Official opening of new Seamens Church
Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit officially opened the new Norwegian Seamens Church in Miami on Sunday, 20 November. The church is named Sjømannskirken H.K.H. Kronprinsesse Mette-Marits kirke, Scandinavian Church and Center.
The Crown Princesss programme began on Friday, 18 November, with a banquet marking the beginning of the festivities to inaugurate the new church. Scandinavians residing in the area also had the opportunity to enjoy a number of events on Saturday.
New building in new location
The first Norwegian Seamens Church in Miami opened in 1981. At that time, primarily Norwegian sailors and Norwegians working in the cruise industry took advantage of the religious services and cultural activities offered by the church. Today, there are fewer sailors, but some 4 000 Norwegians now reside in the area. In addition, a large number of Scandinavian tourists visit Miami – and the Seamens Church – each year.
The church was originally located at the port, but as the number of sailors using the church had diminished, the location was no longer ideal. The new church is situated in Davie, west of Fort Lauderdale, and houses a library, banquet hall, offices, conference rooms and homes for three families, in addition to the chapel.
Consecration and official opening
The official opening of the church took place on Sunday. The ceremony began with a consecration service led by the Bishop of Bjørgvin Diocese, Halvor Nordhaug, followed by an official opening speech by Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
In her remarks, the Crown Princess said that the Seamens Church could almost be called a spiritual embassy, and emphasised the importance of the support the church provides as well as its role as a gathering place for Norwegians abroad. She also praised the adaptability of the church and volunteer efforts underlying the establishment of the new church centre:
It shows the Seamens Church extraordinary ability to adapt to new challenges and realities and continue to meet the needs of Scandinavians in South Florida. It reflects the impressive capacity of the local Scandinavian community in mustering financial support, and the enduring volunteer spirit that has made the new church a reality. (...) In a broader perspective, this consecration also marks a revitalisation of centuries of strong bonds across the Atlantic, culturally and spiritually.
There is a tradition of naming Norwegian Seamens Churches in honour of members of the Royal Family. The Seamens Church in Stockholm, for example, is called Kronprinsesse Märthas Kirke, while the church and culture centre in Paris bears the name of Queen Sonja. The Norwegian Seamans Church in New York is named in honour of King Olav, while the church in Torrevieja, Spain, carries Princess Märtha Louises name. The Seamens Church in Copenhagen is called Sjømannskirken i København, Kong Haakons kirke.