As I was in Longyearbyen over Christmas, it seemed somewhat appropriate to visit this church.
It stands up on the hillside on one side of the town and is about a 20 minute walk although, as with the previous review, the snow & cold weather added a bit of time to the journey in late December. The effort was worth it however; firstly for the wonderful views down into the town and over to the mountains all around, just visible through the polar night.
Inside there is a small reception area to leave your coat and take off your shoes, replacing them with crocs that are provided. The church itself is then up a short flight of stairs and I'm fairly sure that there is a disabled lift for accessibility.
Upstairs the church itself is at one end of a long narrow room, the other half of which resembles a cafe with a number of tables & chairs. This immediately conveys not only the sense of community that is strong here but also the role of the church at the heart of the community - this church effectively serves the whole island across all denominations.
With this in mind, it was a very pleasant surprise to see the beautifully detailed Christian altarpiece with its iconography. There is a box of candles to the right of the altar if you want to light one and offer intercession prayers.
Several other reviewers have commented on the volunteers who man the 'cafe' area for visitors, providing coffee & cake. Unfortunately when I was here it was empty but there was a kettle and tea/coffee/whitener & cups on a table, so I could have made myself a hot drink had I so desired, before heading back out into the cold weather.
There is also a small selection of gifts, such as pens, books and postcards that can be purchased in return for a donation to the church.
With religious attendances in the UK on the wane, it is interesting to see how this church has adapted to become a meeting place for locals: the concept of religion bringing people together as opposed to driving them apart is something that has the potential to do so much good.
It was also lovely to be able to take a few minutes of quiet contemplation, in such a magical environment and at Christmas. Not a TV advert for a PS4 or 'up 50% sale' in sight...oh, the world could be such a better place.
If you are in Longyearbyen, try and make the effort to come here, as it is worth it.
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