Church of Sweden Expanding Presence in Thailand

“By mid-Autumn we hope that one new priest and one new assistant will be present in Greater Phuket Area to serve the many Swedish and Scandinavian tourists there,” vicar Lennart Hamark told “Kyrkostämman” (the Annual Meeting of the Church) on Sunday 25 May 2008. The meeting was attended by eight Swedes, one Dane and one Norwegian.
Due to the huge increase of Swedish people coming to Thailand each year, many of them settling down for five-six months in different parts of the country, the Church of Sweden Abroad (Svenska kyrkan i Utlandet) is now planning for structural changes of its work here. Two new staff will cover the southern touristic area of Thailand: Phuket, Khao Lak, Krabi and Koh Lanta, while the vicar and the assistant in Bangkok will serve the Swedish communities in Central and North Thailand (including Laos and Kambodja): Bangkok, Huahin, BangSaen-Pattaya-Jomtien-Rayong, Chiang Mai, etc.
The overall work in Thailand will be lead by the vicar in Bangkok and a board for Church of Sweden in Thailand (pastoratskyrkoråd). At each destination like Bangkok, Phuket, maybe Huahin, Chiang Mai, etc., local Scandinavian church committees can then be established with the responsibility of running all the local activities including the financing of these activities.
One challenge for the local Scandinavian community in Bangkok for the coming years, is how to cover the running costs of the ‘church at Soi 33’, which is around 1.7 milliion Baht per year, while the local income is only around 1 million. The deficit of around 7-800.000 Baht per year has sofar been covered mainly through wedding-ceremonies performed by the vicar, mostly in the Phuket Area. In the future this annual income will be used for Church of Sweden’s work in Thailand as a whole, and the Scandinavian community in Bangkok will have to find other sources to financing the ‘church at Soi 33’ if people here want to continue to run this wonderful Oasis in the centre of Bangkok.
The new structure will be prepared for the next general assembly of the congregation, which will take place during the Autumn this year.

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