Christa was the first Danish pastor in Thailand – now she says goodbye

Christa Lund Herum moved to Bangkok in November 2017 and became the very first pastor at the Danish Church in Thailand. Now, almost seven years later she is ready to move back to Denmark. Christa fondly looks back at her years in Southeast Asia and the work she has done to shape the Danish Church in Thailand.

For Christa the work as a priest has included workweeks filled with new challenges and versatile tasks. She especially highlights meeting a lot of people from different parts of society as one of her most memorable tasks.

Before Christa came to Thailand there was only a so-called “traveling” priest. The position was opened
after the local Danish church board, consisting of members form the Danish expat community in Bangkok contacted the Danish Seamen’s Church and Churches Abroad (DSUK), voicing the wish for a permanent Danish priest in the community.

In the last seven years Christa together with the Danish Church Board has been the driving force behind the development of the church. Among other things, she has pushed for the Danish Church to open its first community house in the middle of Bangkok earlier this year with the support and help form DSUK.

Shaping a new position

Because the position was completely new, it meant Christa had many initiating tasks and needed to build a community from scratch. In retrospect, Christa believes the immense independence of her job has been both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand she has had a lot of power over decision-making on behalf of the Danish Church in Thailand within the limits of the Danish Seamen’s Church’s guidelines.

But it has also been lonely at times not having a colleague to talk to and consult with both in terms of theological questions but also in the more mentally tough cases of visiting Danish citizens in prison or meeting people in crisis. She found a lot of comfort and support among the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian priests in Bangkok.

When Christa applied for the job, she lived in Cambodia where she worked with Interfaith Dialogues and theological education. She applied as she was not yet done with living in Asia, and she was very
motivated by the prospect of living in Bangkok.

“I think Bangkok is the most liveable big city I have lived in. The Thais are very polite and friendly and it
makes Bangkok a very easy place to work and live,” Christa said.

But Christa has also really appreciated connecting with the local expat community.
“I think I will miss how easy it is to meet other people here. Everything is constantly moving, and I meet
many people who are in similar situations as me. I will definitely miss the openness,” Christa said.

Longing for home

In regards of moving back to Denmark, Christa especially looks forward to being close to her family
again, as her two adult sons live and study in Denmark. She also looks forward to rekindling old
friendships. She has been away from her home country for ten years now, and for her it is no longer
enough to see her loved ones only once a year.

Now, Christa wants to become a priest in the Evangelical-Lutheral Church in Denmark also called
folkekirken, where she looks forward to spending more time on forming her theological approach to
preaching. She starts a temporary job as a priest in Helsingør Stift from July and she aims to contribute
with her experience from abroad.

“I can definitely use my experience from Asia in Denmark. In the temporary positions especially, I think that it will be a bonus. I also gained a lot of experience in meeting people in different stages of their lives, whether happy or in sorrow , which will be a help for me in my new position” Christa said.

For Christa one of the most important tasks of her job was making sure everyone feels welcome and
included in the church.

“It is important to speak to the congregation in a language everyone can understand, because the Danes in Thailand are from all walks of life,” Christa said.

And that has also been evident for Christa in her numerous visits of Danes in Thai prisons. She
underlines how the job description also includes having empathy towards and being a support system for people stuck in difficult situations. She especially remembers one man, who always remained optimistic in the toughest situations.
“He once said to me: I am like a cork stopper, I always float to the top. But even a cork stopper has a
hard time staying up in stormy weather. His way of finding light in darkness was an inspiration to me,”
Christa said.

Even though Christa’s goal right now is to return to home and set up a base in Denmark, she thinks it is a possibility to go abroad again in a temporary position.

A final goodbye

On Sunday 22 May 2024, Christa preached for the last time in Bangkok in a joint Pentecost and farewell service. She read from the Pentecostal texts and a passage from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says goodbye to his disciples. Afterwards the members of the church board had prepared speeches and arranged for a few additional songs to be sung.

The last service was of great importance to Christa, as she believes in the value of genuine goodbyes:

“I think it is important to say goodbye properly, in the right way and at the right time, because I believe in the importance of expressing thankfulness for everything we experienced in life. And I feel very thankful for having met all these wonderful people during my years as Danish Pastor in Thailand.”

Christa during her last service in the Danish Church community house in Bangkok.

About Charlotte Nike Albrechtsen

Charlotte Nike Albrechtsen is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Charlotte Nike Albrechtsen

2 Comments on “Christa was the first Danish pastor in Thailand – now she says goodbye”

  1. I regret missing the opportunity to hear Christa’s words of farewell. We have much to thank Christa for. Enjoy your path forward, Christa!

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