20 August 2019 | Arendal, Norway [Tor Tjeransen]
For the third year running, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has gained considerable attention at an annual fair in the town of Arendal in south-east Norway. The week-long event is simply named after the town, Arendalsuka (Arendal Week).
The six-meter-long church booth showcased the work the Adventist church does with ADRA, healthy lifestyles and the Norwegian Bible Institute. This is significant in an event that boasts of being “Norway’s largest political meeting place” with the stated aim of strengthening democracy. Running for the past eight years, the event has become the place to be for politicians who want to be in touch with the plethora of Non-Government Organizations showcasing their work during the week.
During Arendalsuka, the downtown streets are filled by over 200 booths run by organizations ranging from the Church City Mission to the Norwegian Association for Rock Blasting Technique. Around 80,000 people visit during the week, learning about various organizations’ work both through what happens at the various stands and at 1,258 small and large events where relevant issues important for society are highlighted.
It is also the best location to meet top politicians in an informal setting. As a meeting place to make new contacts, Arendalsuka is unique.
Visiting the Adventist booth, the public enjoyed tasting samples of vegetarian food. A plant-based diet is unusual in Norway but both young and were willing to try the nut-roast with tomato sauce which was on the “menu” for Wednesday.
Three teenage girls tasted and thought a little when asked, “How is the taste, on a scale of zero to six?”
“Five, or five plus,” the girls all replied. They took with them one of the latest issues of the Norwegian Health Magazine, Sunnhetsbladet.
A chef working on one of the oilrigs in the North Sea wanted more “piff” in the taste. Another ‘pro’ suggested a little lemon to accentuate the flavour, but most people enjoyed the food samples which are good for both the stomach and the environment.
“It’s so useful to be here, and it’s so easy to get in touch with people”, says Svanhild Stølen, editor of Sunnhetsbladet. She found herself engaged in many interesting conversations with people who wanted to know more about vegetarian food as well as the work of the Adventist Church. “We have to be where people are,” she says.
Torbjørn Fors, elder of the Arendal church, took afternoons off from his physiotherapy clinic to meet people who came by the booth. He is excited about the opportunity to make the congregation visible in the local community.
“It is a delight to be present here, because people are tuned in to meet someone to talk to”, he says.
Arne Lerøy is one of those who stopped at the stand. He stated that he is full of praise for the lifestyle guidance he received from Adventists when he was a patient at ‘Jeløy Kurbad’ may years ago. “There I learned healthy eating and how to take care of my health,” he says.
Gunnar Holanger (93) has been a member of the Arendal congregation for almost his entire life. He spent time at the booth but also strolled around to other exhibitors to tell them a little about what the Adventist Church is doing locally, nationally and globally.
At one of the booths we met Torbjørn Hørte, a local politician, running for a seat in the local government elections coming up in a few weeks. He is full of praise for the Bible study programmes on Hope Channel Norway.
“The Bible study programmes you produce, are great. You read the Bible text and encourage people to read the Bible yourself. I like the way you encourage viewers to read the Bible for themselves,” he enthused.
Several others who came to the booth were also excited about the Hope Channel TV. One mentioned the series about Martin Luther, and told us he had been blessed by it.
Designed especially for Arendalsuka, the Seventh-day Adventist church acquired two marquees with print on all the walls, so that different aspects of church activities and offerings could be profiled. They are now available for other congregations across Norway to use at local fairs and events.
The city of Arendal has a population of 44,000 but doubles that for Arendalsuka. The Adventist presence at the fair is part of the community outreach, bridge building programme of the 4,500 Adventists who live in a widely scattered population of 5.2 million people.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
119 St Peter’s Street, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3EY, England
E-mail: [email protected]
tedNEWS is an information bulletin issued by the communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division. Readers are free to republish or share this article with appropriate credit including an active hyperlink to the original article.