What matters in Luleå: Sunday worship

Sunday, 19th November, 2017

It is my first Sunday here so I was keen to find a church to attend. A quick Google search turned up very little but the one that attracted me was the Frälsningsarmén i Luleå, the Salvation Army in Luleå. I have never visited the Sallies, so this was going to be an adventure. By 4:00pm it is pitch-black here so this was going to be a fifteen-minute walk in the snow,

The Sallies sign in the darknessI was not disappointed…and I had so much fun.

From the end of a long street, I could see their shield shining in the darkness. It would have been hard to miss, down the end of long lane off one of the main streets.off one of the main streets. 

Once inside, out of the snow, I talked to a few people but found only one who spoke English. Svenya, also known as Christina or Trish explained that she has lots of Facebook friends overseas who just call her Trish.

All through the service, she helped me with hymn numbers and Bible verse references….because the whole service was in Swedish. Sallies worshiping

The service was a delight. No matter that not a word of English was spoken. I picked up enough “Amen’s”, “Hallejujah’s” and “Jesus’s” to follow along.

The officer with the accordion led the congregation of only seven in loud, cheerful hymns. Before each hymn started, she showed me using her fingers what the hymn number was going to be, digit-by-digit. So I got 1-3-7 hand-by-hand. She also managed Psalm 1-3-9 and Luke 2-0. By the time we got to Hymn 552,

The hymn book

I still had no idea what each hymn meant but later on, I was able to sing along to “What a Friend we have in Jesus” in English <laugh>.

The Sallies have been in Luleå since the late 1800’s . The church has amazing photos around the wall, this one from 1919:


Sally officers 1920

Sally officer 1920

Then tea and cakes with the ladies after the service. The officer at the back was the one playing the accordion and Christina is at the right taking tea to someone.

Sallies at tea

There was something so special about this place. They worked so hard during the service to keep me involved though they spoke so little English. So typical of the Salvation Army philosophy of their faith: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35




Author: Rockweather

I am a writer, musician, teacher, and researcher at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, New Zealand.

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