Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Pattaya inaugurates new pastor

Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad enters the Norwegian church in the procession of 5 Scandinavian pastors for her inauguration ceremony.

The Sjømannskirken or better known in English as the Norwegian Seamen’s Church Abroad in Pattaya was packed with Scandinavians and their Thai families and friends who had come to welcome and celebrate the inauguration of the new pastor for Norwegians in Thailand.

On Sunday Feb. 26, a procession of 5 Scandinavian pastors led the Rev. Helle Maria Wolstad into the holy church to be inaugurated in a sacred ceremony.

The proceedings began with the reading of messages of felicitation from Gudmund Waaler, Acting Bishop of Bjørgvin Bishop’s office and from Jeffery Huseby, General Secretary of the Norwegian Church Abroad and the general board of the Norwegian Seamen Church.

The ceremony was initiated by Pastor Kjell H. Christoffersen who often served as substitute pastor in Pattaya, while Pastor Ragnvald Seierstad who served the Pattaya Norwegian Church and the congregation for 6 years, lead the inauguration prayer. He also narrated his experiences while living in Thailand.  He said “Welcome Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad to our church, like Jesus, the good shepherd, He left 99 sheep that were safe and went out searching for the one that was lost – that is also a task for you, to visit the sick and the lonely and take care of your herd.”

Diaconal Christer Lilienberg reads the felicitation from Gudmund Waaler, Acting Bishop of Bjørgvin Bishop’s office.

Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad said that she was excited to be here in Pattaya and was looking forward to serving her congregation, saying “It is my sincere wish to be a good leader both for the spiritual life and the social life of the Norwegian community at the church in Pattaya, and for Norwegians around the country. Thailand is a wonderful land to serve in and I go to the task as a pastor here with gratefulness and humility”.

Heartfelt greetings were conveyed by Christa Lund Herum from the Danish Church in Bangkok and Olaf Olsson from the Swedish Church in Bangkok.

Deacon Hans Konrad Nyvoll welcomed Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad saying that he had served the church under the leadership and guidance of 5 pastors and was looking forward to working closely with Pastor Helle to serve the church and the Scandinavian community in Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard.

At the end of the ceremony coffee and traditional Norwegian bløtekake was served much to the delight of the people assembled there.

Pastor Ragnvald Seierstad welcomes Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad and narrates his experiences while living in Thailand.

The following is an interview with Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad that the Norwegian Church shares with the public so that they can get to know her better.

“I am 59 years old and have four grown up children and two grandchildren, one 14 years old and one 4 months old. To say it with a song title “I travel alone”.

“I grew up as a missionary’s daughter and after being qualified in Theology I started working in the Methodist Church. Since then I worked at the City Mission of the Church, the SOS organisation of the Church and for three years I was also the leader of the volunteer centre of Stovner. ”

I have been practicing as a Methodist Church Pastor at several places in Norway. When I started working with Church of Norway I was district pastor at Osterøy and recently I was working as a pastor at Geilo.”

Pastor Kjell H. Christophersen and Pastor Ragnvald Seierstad lead the inauguration ceremonies for Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad.

My great passion is music. I listen to everything from heavy rock, ballads, pop music and hymns to classic music. Therefore I am excited about how we can use the music in more ways in the church. I developed a “Bob Dylan Service”, a “Retropop Mass” and a “Blue Christmas” – the latter was a Christmas service with alternative music for people who feel the Christmas time can be a heavy time.” I also created a “Mental Peace Service” in cooperation with Recovery and AA.”

“As a small child I lived in the Congo and I have since lived, studied and worked in Israel and the United States. I enjoy learning new languages but I don’t know how it will be with Thai. Right now, I am taking a course on the Internet.”

“I love to go for long walks, train, travel and be in the nature be it at sea, on land or in the forest. My spare time I spend listening to music or reading books like Coello and Tolkien.”

The Norwegian Church in Pattaya and the Scandinavian congregation warmly welcome Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad and pledge total dedication and support for her and the church to ensure that her tenure as Pastor in Pattaya will be a most fruitful and happy one.

Christa Lund Herum, pastor for Danish Church in Bangkok delivers her heartfelt felicitations.
The diaconal and pastors perform the holy ceremony of blessing Pastor Helle Maria Wolstad on her inauguration as Pastor of the Sjømannskirken in Pattaya.

Scandinavian residents and their families attended the inauguration ceremony to welcome their new pastor.
Pastors Kjell H. Christophersen, Christa Lund Herum and Olaf Olsson from the Swedish Church in Bangkok join the Pattaya congregation at the solemn ceremonies.

(l-r) Pastors Ragnvald Seierstad, Kjell H. Christophersen, Helle Maria Wolstad, Christa Lund Herum and Olaf Olsson come together for a commemorative group photograph.
Pastor Helle Marie Wolstad expressed her wish to be a good leader both for the spiritual life and the social life of the Norwegian community. “I go to the task as a pastor with gratefulness and humility”.

Norwegian bløtekake was served by Saisamorn Christophersen after the inauguration ceremonies.