Norwegian Church in Singapore: Young dynamic priest-family takes over

At the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Singapore, a new adventure has started for the newly appointed priest and his family. His vision is to give Norwegian expats with a changeable daily life a solid and steady community in the church.

The new Norwegian priest in Singapore, Alexander Colstrup along with his wife and two children. Photo: Sjømannskirken

On top of a little mountain looking over the impressive and gigantic container port of Singapore, a road sign is standing with a picture of a moose along with the name of ‘Kong Harald V’s Vei’. This is the place of the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission. A young family moved in this fall in the neighbouring building and has now more or less settled down. The priest in the church, Alexander Colstrup, and his wife Christine Colstrup, Communication Manager of the church, are thrilled about their new life catering Norwegians in the tropic island-country.

“It was essential that Singapore became our foreign choice. This is nicely western, safe and efficient,” says Alexander Colstrup.

Their two sons Edwin and Abel aged three and six are also adapting to their new life, and big brother Edwin have just started school where the big challenge is learning the new language.

39-year-old Alexander Colstrup has worked 11 years as a priest in the Mortensrud Church in Oslo before he moved to Singapore the first of October this year. When the couple saw an ad for a vacant position as priest of the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission in Singapore, they found the idea intriguing, but were not expecting to get the offer. A few months later though, the young family could embark on a new adventure.

“If you had asked me half a year ago it would have been crazy to think about having this position,” says Alexander Colstrup. As he’s sitting in the main hall of the church talking to ScandAsia a group of Norwegians are still enjoying the traditional Norwegian buffet along with some waffles in the last hours of the church’s weekly Thursday Lunch.

Alexander’s wife, Christine, is walking around the area doing some of the daily chores as the busy Christmas season is about to kick in. It was very much Alexander’s wife who were intrigued about moving the whole family across the globe. She explains that this was a perfect decision of them and they are still finding everything exciting and new. The weekend before, they had 450 people visiting the church for their annual Christmas Bazaar and the interior of the church is full of Nordic Christmas creating a genuine Norwegian atmosphere.

For the priest, the important thing about the job is to give Norwegians abroad a safe and welcoming environment. A solid place where they can rest from their perhaps changeable daily life.

“Not everything can be bought with money and we try to offer what can’t be bought with money,” Alexander Colstrup says while addressing that they especially want to give the Norwegians a sense of community here.

The family is still adapting to their new home but they’re overall positive about the safe, modern and efficient country. When not on duty, Alexander Colstrup enjoys playing football along with some Norwegian expats or working out in his own little gym at the family’s home.

But with Christmas around the corner there might be quite less spare time. Alexander Colstrup is facing the busiest season for a Nordic church abroad with activities like the Christmas Bazaars, Christmas services and Christmas Eve. He’s looking forward to managing all of it, and with the help of his wife, volunteers and the rest of the staff, the Norwegians are in safe hands with the new couple in the church.

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