Lulea twins: Thetford and Holmsund

Published on: 1 July 2017

Have you ever thought about twinning your parish with a similar parish in Sweden?

Despite being a member of the Luleå Link Group, a committee which oversees our link with Luleå Diocese in Northern Sweden, it hadn’t really occurred to me either! However, after a group from Bureå visited our Deanery, we were asked if we’d be interested in twinning with Holmsund Parish, another parish in the Diocese of Luleå.

The first group from Holmsund came to visit us in March of 2013 and, from the outset, it was clear that a link would not only be helpful in terms of learning and support, but that it’d be a lot of fun too! During that four-day visit, our Swedish friends had an intensive introduction to Thetford and the Diocese of Norwich; meeting many members of our congregations; seeing the sights of Thetford; eating fish and chips; watching an episode of Dad’s Army (partly filmed in Thetford, in case you’re wondering!); enjoying a cream tea; and participating in worship at three of the churches in our Team Ministry. During their visit we also spent time talking and praying about the ways that we would hope to benefit from twinning our Parishes.

Following the initial visit of our friends from Holmsund, a Twinning Agreement was then established. The agreement includes our intention to support each other in the following ways:

  • Praying for each other, both corporately and individually
  • Sharing information so that our prayers can be purposeful
  • Getting to know each other, maintaining communication links
  • Sharing ideas, being open and learning from each other
  • Sensitively offering advice and feedback to each other
  • Encouraging visits between the churches

The overall aim is to help each other discern God’s will for His church in a secular world, and through discussion and deepening relationships, to be better equipped to share the good news more widely in our communities.

Since our link was established we have continued to welcome Holmsund groups to Thetford and, in return, we have visited them as well. The Holmsund visits are usually theme based now; for example, we have hosted the Parish Deacons and also groups of young leaders.

Holmsund Parish is very different to Thetford. For example, whilst in Holsmund, they took us on snow scooters out onto a frozen lake, where we fished through holes in the ice and then had a barbecue! So the environment is very different, but the people have many similarities. The most enriching thing has been the firm friendships that we have made. They have enriched our life, and our worship, and have been a real source of joy and inspiration.

You may be wondering how this works out economically. Due to the tax that the Church of Sweden receives which, although voluntary, is still paid by many Swedes, Swedish parishes generally have a much greater income than parishes here. The Swedes are aware of this situation and so, as we have hosted groups from Holmsund, they have made gifts towards our expenses and these have enabled us to set up a Twinning Fund.

There are other parishes in Lulea Diocese who would be interested in connecting with a parish in out Diocese. If you’d like to find out more, please contact the Lulea Link Group or get in touch with me by email eriuryrawnel@tznvy.pbz or phone 01841 755769.

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