Foto: Pixabay

Newsletter October 2020

Summary in English

The Vicar’s Thoughts

A few days ago, the Church of Sweden Abroad (SKUT) gathered for a digital conference where, among others, SKUT’s managers, Bishop Thomas Petersson - Visby Diocese, Vicars, Church Council Chairmen, representatives and members of the Church Board for the Church of Sweden Abroad participated.

Many of us have become accustomed to meeting online, especially in the last six months, but it was the first time that SKUT had a conference in this way. The conference lasted from Thursday to Sunday with many live sessions and pre-recorded lectures. It went beyond all expectations.

Imagine being able to have fellowship with so many even though we are at such great distances around the world, in many different time zones! From Melbourne, Mats Marklund and I, the chairman of the church council, participated.

Katja Lin Foto: Gunnar Wenehult

We could chat and ask questions to the lecturers both before and during the live sessions, there were morning prayers, Sunday worship and several interesting lectures about the church's financial situation, church and parish views, ecumenism, changes in our operations and communication.

There was also a music concert, pilgrimage and mingling with colleagues and as icing on the cake a quiz, but the time difference unfortunately meant that the quiz and some sessions had to be skipped, as I could not sit up all night, even though I would have liked to join in for that too!

One of the features was a greeting from Archbishop Antje Jackelén that I want to share with you. She took note of a bible verse from 2 Timothy 1: 7, which many have found comfort in since the Corona Pandemic began: "for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but the spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind" Archbishop Antje wants to emphasize that there is comfort in those words, because God knows that discouragement is something we sometimes end up in, but that there is an identity for us in those words, because we know whose spirit’s children we are and who give each of us "power, love and sound mind".


Archbishop Antje said that this is something that many of us have shown now during this troubled time we are now in, both as individuals and as a church. We have become creative, but also shown that it is possible to show care and love even if the conditions are different depending on where we are. Our spiritual resilience continues to be challenged, but the Archbishop emphasized that challenges and opportunities "connect" and affect everything in our lives. I can really recognize myself in that and it gives me a feeling of hope and strength not only in my own life but also for the church and our congregation.

We continue to celebrate worship together online every week, we can continue to pray for each other and our congregation and we are obviously looking forward to meeting at the church even if it looks like it will take a while longer. We have to remind ourselves of the "spirit of power, love, and sound mind."

Katja Lin, Vicar

Tough school year for young and old

Unfortunately, 2020 became a historic year in many ways. Not least for the world's school children who in many cases spent most of their time at home at the computer, alone with the teacher or with mum and dad. There are certainly many who miss outdoor sports lessons, experiments in the chemistry lab and not in the kitchen, and especially their friends in the schoolyard.

It was probably worst for the oldest students who are in their final year - and for the very youngest who have been looking forward to starting school for so long.

Lilly och Grace Bell
Lilly and Grace Bell are six years old identical twins. In February this year, they started Prep at Mont Albert Primary School in Mont Albert.

Lilly, Victoria och Grace

"We had held them back a year because they were born prematurely and quite shy, so when it was finally time they were so excited," says mother Victoria Ringenson.

Four other sets of twins were also going to start at the same time, they had all met for a photo shoot for the local newspaper so they knew they would not be the only ones. In addition, they had one of their besties in the same class.”

The girls spent term 1 at school, the school holidays were extended and then there was home schooling during term 2. The girls handled it well and appreciated that mum would now be their teacher. It was tougher for mum.

“In the beginning it was much harder because they couldn’t read or write, and I had to sit with them all the time and help with everything - twice. I am not a teacher but try to be pedagogical. We are now home for the second time and things are much better because we know the set-up and I am trying to have fun rather than pushing hard,” says Victoria.

The girls have not missed their friends that much, they always have each other and play so well together that schoolwork has sometimes been done at other times. Most of all, they have missed their teacher, Mr V.

"We get the lessons recorded and can do them whenever we want, in the beginning they sat and waved to him even though he could not see them."

School will probably start again on October 12, and perhaps Mum Victoria is the happiest about it.

“I am very proud of everything they have achieved, and it’s been awesome to be with them when they learn, it never happens otherwise. Now I'm happy that they're going back, they probably think I'm nagging,” she says and laughs.

Anna Wilson

Anna Wilson is 18 years old and is in her final year of high school in Kew. From the stress doing VCE to 18-birthday parties, driving licenses and schoolies, year twelve is both the hardest and the most fun for the students. But because of Covid-19, nothing turned out as expected for "Class of 2020".

“It has been a lot of ups and downs. The school has been very supportive, but it is sad not to be able to take part in things that usually happens in year 12. It is of course a disappointment,” says Anna.

This year, there was no formal, graduation ceremonies or schoolies with Anna's closest friends.

"We were supposed to have a formal in April, but it was cancelled. Our graduation ceremony may be online. "My friends and I had booked to go on schoolies to Byron Bay in New South Wales, but of course that will not happen," she says.

Anna studies drama, a subject that has been difficult to do online. And the annual large theater production in front of a full audience shrank to a small event with only ten parents in the audience.

Hemundervisning med Anna Wilson

“It's hard to play theater with others online. So much in theater is about timing and atmosphere. It disappears so easily when everything is online,” she says.

Asking for help and talking to your teachers after lessons is also something that feels more natural when you are at school. Asking questions while everyone else in the class is listening on the internet is not as easy. Sometimes it has been difficult to keep the mood up, but the school has done what they could and sent home small care packages with sweets, heating pads and stress balls to cheer up the students.

"Everything has gone well anyway and it has made us appreciate being at school more," says Anna.

Another milestone for many during the final school year is turning 18. Anna was lucky to turn 18 early in the year and took the opportunity to celebrate before everything was shut down. Several of her friends were not so lucky.

"All we can do now is drive past their house with balloons and cake and sing “Happy Birthday”, that’s all we can do."

The driver's license almost didn’t happen either this year. The first test was cancelled and when Melbourne opened up a little more in June, Anna was offered a new time in a week when she already had three tests in school.

"It was very stressful but I did not dare to say no."

Did you get your driver's license?

"Yes, I did so it was worth the stress."

Now she is looking forward to finishing her final exams, which after all will be held as usual. Next year she wants to study at university, health sciences or midwifery. The choices and opportunities are many. But first she hopes for a really nice summer.

“I hope it will open up so much so me and my friends can celebrate on the beach. We may not be able to travel, but we can all celebrate.”

Anna's family has a long-standing connection to the Church of Sweden in Melbourne - mum Cecilia worked in the kitchen for many years, and her grandparents Ulla and Ulf Lundberg have worked as long-term volunteers for several years.

Values ​​and staff health extra important during the pandemic

It would be easy for companies to not prioritize work with values ​​and sustainability during the stress of the pandemic. But for the fire engineering company RED Fire Engineers, which is run by Anna Önnebo and Tobias Salomonsson, this work is more important than ever.

The role of the fire engineer in Australia is to find fireproof solutions when the usual rules cannot be followed. This can apply to all types of buildings, but usually to larger buildings such as high-rise buildings, shopping centers and hospitals.

Sustainability has been the most important core value for the company since the start in 2013 and therefore it was obvious for RED to become a climate-positive company.

"We want to be long-term sustainable in all possible ways in the company, from having satisfied employees who want to work with us to creating a safer society through fire safety and of course we want to contribute to reducing environmental impact," says Anna Önnebo who is marketing and operations manager at RED Fire Engineers.

Climate compensation means that companies pay for their climate footprint by investing in climate measures. For RED, this meant that they went through everything that contributed to carbon dioxide emissions in 2019. With about 40 employees in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Sweden, there will be quite a few plane and taxi journeys in the service. Waste and energy consumption were also added together. There were a lot of minus points on the climate account. To compensate, RED paid a number of thousands of dollars that went to planting trees in New Zealand.

Anna Önnebo och Tobias Salmonsson

“In Sweden, there are quite a few companies that help you compensate for climate change. It is not as common in Australia so we worked with a company in New Zealand that was recommended by a Swedish company in the same industry. We paid 120 percent more than the value of everything we put out to become climate positive, ”says Anna.

The climate compensation is repeated every year so that the company will continue to be climate neutral. But for 2020, both airline and taxi accounts are still at zero for the company.

"There has really been a shift during Covid-19. Of course, people want to meet, but we do not have to travel as much as before. You can have many meetings online. ”

What has been toughest for you when it comes to running a business these days?

So far we have had plenty of work, the large construction contracts we work with have continued and when we do inspections it is seen as 'essential services' and the building sites are often empty. We hired seven new staff during the year. I have taken several HR courses and really had to rethink how we work with the staff. We have invested heavily in mindfulness programs and gifts for our employees. Next, we will donate to volunteer organisations that our employees choose. ”

Is it also part of your values?

“It is part of sustainability to think about both the staff and society. Then we want to create a flexible workplace where the family is important, so we pay for longer parental leave than usual. We have employees from all over the world and we want them to feel involved in the company and we listen to their opinions. We have worked out our values ​​together, ”says Anna.

Anna herself has worked from home since March but hopes to soon be able to go back to work again, and work with staff in person.

“What I hope this period has taught us is to take care of each other more. I think people will become more empathetic and think about how others are doing. ”

If you recognize Anna Önnebo from the Church of Sweden, you have probably met her at the Christmas Bazaar where she usually takes care of the cafe tent. She was also the principal of the Swedish School for a few years and is now part of the nomination committee for the Church Council.

“The church is like my second home. I have met many people through the Church who I really like. What I like is that it is open and welcoming to everyone of all ages. ”

Bazaar update

This year we are planning to hold a contactless virtual Scandinavian Bazaar in November, with an online silent auction instead of our usual raffle. Purchases would be made online and be collected via a click and collect system or sent by Australia Post.

We are therefore currently setting up an online store which will be ready to open up end of October or beginning of November.

This means that you will still be able to buy Christmas items, decorations and groceries but in a slightly different way. You will still be able to enjoy the amazing products sold at the Bazaar through the web shop, including many of your favourite items as well.

Due to the fact that we are still waiting for confirmation as to when our Bazaar goods will be released to us, we don’t have the exact dates ready yet.
We will continue to keep you updated with more information when we know more.
Please check:

We are looking for volunteers who can help us with tasks such as price tagging, unpacking and packing orders or running the web shop. We are also looking for volunteers who would be willing to work in the café and kitchen if restrictions allow later on. 

We hope that you will be interested in joining. Please do not hesitate to contact us to express your interest or for answers to any queries you may have.

Thank you for your support. 
All the best from us at the Swedish Church. 
We are looking forward to working together this year again.

Reverend Katja Lin

Vicar – Swedish Church in Melbourne, Australia

Thank you for supporting the Church - you are needed!

As you probably already know, the church currently has no major income and we continue to plan ahead the best way we can.

We are therefore grateful for your continued support, by purchasing from us, renewing your membership or contributing to the congregation's activities.

To all of you who have so far shopped, renewed your membership or made a contribution, a big thank you!

If you want to give an offering, it is also appreciated.

You can find our online worship services on the website, facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for your continued support, we need you!

Here are the bank details for your contribution to the congregation. Thank you for your gift!

Account number: ANZ Bank, Swedish Church, BSB 013445, Account 008679345

The Church's shop is still open online.

Do you know that the Church’s shop is still open for online orders? If you live outside the radius of 5km from the church, we are happy to send your goods to you via postal delivery.

All items that can be ordered can be found on our website and there is also information on how to proceed to send in an order and what it costs to have it sent home.

Right now there are both cinnamon and cardamom buns, cabbage pudding and pea soup and a lot more at a reduced price.

We are currently working on an online shop which will make it easier for you to order items from The Church and we hope it will be ready soon.

We are here for you

Even though several of our activities have been paused, we are here for you. You can call or e-mail us. Contact us if you want to talk or need support. You can also contact Katja Lin if you wish to have a home or a hospital visit.

How to reach us:
Katja Lin, pastor
0421 045 112

Gunnar Wenehult, educator
0459 225 532

You can also keep in touch with us via social media: Facebook and Instagram

You can worship with us online, new worship services every Sunday. We still have baptisms, weddings and funerals.

Do you want us to pray for you or someone you know?
Every week the staff at the church gather to pray for the needs that arise. We include everyone in our thoughts and prayers. No one should have to feel forgotten.

Get in touch with your prayer topics to Katja or Gunnar.