Although the number of Norwegian seamen is declining, more and more people are visiting the Norwegian Church
Abroad in the 80 countries in which it operates. Many Norwegians residing abroad for shorter or longer periods use the Church as a religious, cultural and social meeting place. In 1863, Johan Cordt Harmens Storjohann, a young theologian from Bergen, was on a study tour in Scotland. In Leith he met Norwegian seamen, and there he saw the need for pastoral care. On his own initiative he started holding divine services for the seamen. Back in Norway, he immediately embarked on the task of organizing a church for seamen. After much difficulty, Storjohann assembled a group who, on 31 August 1864, founded a mission to secure the moral and religious education of Scandinavian seamen in foreign ports.
The 150 years during which the Norwegian Church Abroad has served seafaring folk coincide with the history of the heterogeneous world in which the Church has put down roots. The Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Valencia had to be vacated in 1936 during the civil war and in the course of the subsequent world war the churches in Manchester, Le Havre, Antwerp and Hamburg were hit by bombs. In spite of changing times, the Norwegian Church Abroad held up as an important institution for Norwegians far from home, and visitors are welcome to the churches worldwide. The organization has a comprehensive emergency response and care, and provides general assistance to the Norwegians in both small and large crises. Thousands of Norwegians therefore wish the institution a Happy Anniversary!