The Norwegian Seamen's Church in Miami: Opening speech
Ladies and gentlemen,
Kjære alle sammen,
It’s a great pleasure for me to attend this very special event. It is not every day that I open a church carrying my name. I know that many people have worked hard to make this happen. Congratulations to all of you!
For 30 years, the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Miami has provided comfort, support and a sense community for thousands of Scandinavians.
A great number of people – both those living here and those travelling through – have experienced the warm hospitality of the church staff. The opening of the new Seamen’s Church in Davies is significant in many respects:
It shows the Seamen’s 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.
It also witnesses the will and determination of key Scandinavian institutions in South Florida to work effectively together for a common purpose. In a broader perspective, this consecration also marks a revitalisation of centuries of strong bonds across the Atlantic, culturally and spiritually.
I have visited quite a few Norwegian Seamen’s Churches over the years. What always strikes me is their unique ability to be present in people’s lives in all kinds of situations: in sorrow and desperate need, in calm everyday life, and at the milestone events – like weddings.
Over the last month, my family has in fact attended several events at Seamen’s Churches in the US. In October, my husband celebrated the 60th anniversary of the church in San Francisco – and a few days earlier, the King and Queen attended a service at the church in New York.
As Scandinavians, we are privileged to have our helpful and supportive embassies all around the world. The Seamen’s Church could almost be called “a spiritual embassy”.
It is a home away from home. It is a place for rest, for company, for prayer - and a place for the best waffles in the world.
It is my sincere hope that the new premises will further strengthen an already vibrant community - and that the Church will continue to offer a wide range of activities that meet people’s needs.
In closing, I would like to quote from Ecclesiastes, chapter 3:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to break down, and a time to build up.
It is an honour to declare Sjømannskirken Kronprinsesse Mette-Marits kirke, Scandinavian Church and Centre, officially open.