A home away from home: The Norwegian Seamen’s Mission in Singapore since 1955

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Established in 1955, the Seamen’s Mission in Singapore has consistently provided a sanctuary for Norwegians living abroad, mirroring the spirit of its iconic counterparts in Rotterdam, Rio de Janeiro, New York, and across the globe.

Located at 300 Pasir Panjang Road, the Mission sits atop a hill, offering a tranquil retreat from the industrial surroundings of ships, port terminals, and warehouses in Singapore’s dynamic business environment.

Upon entering, an inviting scent of heart-shaped waffles immediately welcomes the visitors, symbolizing the warmth and care the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission extends to its community. Jan Brattgjerd, the Managing Director and Chaplain, shares, “These waffles are more than just a treat; they embody the love and care we provide for our community.”

The Norwegian Seamen’s Mission is a crucial part of Team Norway in Singapore, with The Embassy, Norwegian Business Association Singapore (NBAS) and Innovation Norway.

From excursions to lunches

Mr. Brattgjerd emphasizes the Mission’s foundational goal: to create a home away from home and foster an inclusive environment rich in peace and companionship. Serving as a vital meeting point, the Seamen’s Mission showcases Norwegian culture in the heart of Asia.

The Mission’s array of activities, from Tuesday excursions exploring Singapore’s landmarks to traditional Norwegian lunches on Thursdays and energizing hill runs on Saturdays, mirrors the Norwegian way of life. These events, along with regular church services and special events, maintain the vibrancy of Norwegian culture in Singapore’s tropical environment.

A welcoming team

Mr. Brattgjerd emphasises that at the core of the Mission’s operations is its dedicated team:  Solveig who offers spiritual support and education, especially to those navigating life’s challenges. Jan Edvard, who is responsible for the website, social media, and coordinating vessel and company visits. Camilla who manages event planning, the shop, and volunteer coordination, ensuring everything runs smoothly. Behind the scenes, Evan and Shamini who play critical roles in administration, financial management, and maintaining the premises, contributing significantly to the welcoming atmosphere. “We work closely as a team to ensure that we greet all our guests warmly, including our amazing volunteers,” Mr. Brattgjerd notes.

Moreover, the Mission houses a store where traditional Norwegian items like brown cheese and porridge rice are particularly sought after by visitors, enhancing the homely feel.

The world’s steepest Constitution Day parade

Mr. Brattgjerd reveals the anticipation building up towards the Seamen’s Mission’s National Day celebration, elaborating on the traditional components such as band music, ice cream, sausages, competitions, speeches, songs, and notably, the May 17 parade. With 350 attendees last year, this year’s celebration, especially since May 17 falls on a Friday, promises to be even more memorable. The festivities take place from 4:00pm to 6:30pm.

A friendly advise based on the author of this articles own experience: A light blue shirt amidst Singapore’s notable heat and humidity is probably not the smartest choice of clothing for the world’s steepest Constitution Day parade.

For those interested in engaging with the church’s activities:

As the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission in Singapore approaches its 70th anniversary, its unwavering dedication to providing a slice of home for Norwegians affirms its status as a cherished place where everyone can find a sense of belonging.

Truly a piece of Norway in Singapore!

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