Converting to Orthodoxy in Norway (It’s Been Done)

July 21, 2016 By Fr. John

A Romanian writer, Tudor is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Romania. He has published a number of articles related to philosophy and theology in different cultural and academic journals. His work focuses on the evolution of Orthodox spirituality in Western societies as well and he is going to publish a book of interviews with Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. In this article, he interviews Father Johannes Johansen, an Orthodox priest in Norway.

TP: First of all, please do tell us how you discovered Orthodoxy and why have you chosen the conversion to the Orthodox Church.

Fr. Johannes Johansen: By studying the Holy Bible. The Orthodox Church is the direct contuation of the Church that Christ himself founded on his holy apostles – the only possible Christian Church.

TP: What should we know about the Orthodox heritage of Norway, about the origins of Orthodoxy in Norway? When did actually appear the first Orthodox church in Norway?

Fr. Johannes Johansen: Everybody thinks that Norway was Roman Catholic the first 500 years and then Lutheran/protestant. BUT this is a truth which has to be corrected. The Christianity started to influence “Norway” already in the 8th century, and in the 1000-c. We have the history with St. Sunniva of Selja (described in The Saga about King Olav Tryggvason) and then we have St. Olav Haraldson who eventually Christianized Norway (Stiklestad 1030), and a little later st. Hallvard in Oslo-aerea) – all of it BEFORE the schism between Rome and the other Orthodox Churches. That means the Church/Christianity in Norway in that first period was Orthodox Church/Christianity (not “roman-catholic”).

The second point is in the far north-east: In 16. century the holy missionary Trifon came from Novgorod and Christianized all the eastern “skolt” laps (saami) people. He built the chapel in Neiden in 1565 – still existing, and the tribe he Christianized are still Orthodox people and belonging to our parish.

The third point is 1920 – when a group of ablout 1000 Russian refugee came from Archangelsk/Murmansk to Norway and founded “The Orthodox Church (St. Nicholas Parish) in Norway”, still existing, my parish. The parish has after that expanded much.

TP: Can you please talk about the fullness of the Norwegian Orthodox tradition among the other orthodox traditions in Eastern and Central Europe? I don’t know if this is a right question, but I am thinking about the fact that there should be a some kind of fullness as I have mentioned above.

Fr. Johannes Johansen: In fact, we can not yet talk about a Norwegian Orthodox cultural tradition, but we can say that it is in the process of being formed. First of all the language: we are using more and more norwegian (in stead of church-slavonic) because of the international composition of members in the parishes. We are also combining Russian/slavonic music with the byzantine. We have published a great range of books, and translated most of the liturgical texts.

TP: Who are the most important saints celebrated in the Norwegian Orthodox Church?

Fr. Johannes Johansen: We do not say “The Norwegian Orthodox Church” but “The Orthodox Church in Norway” (an important difference). The most important saints for Orthodoxy in Norway are: St. Sunniva, St. Olav, St. Hallvard and St. Trifon, the apostles Peter and Paul. St. Seraphim of Sarov and St. Nicholas.

TP: What can you say about the dialogue between the Norwegian Orthodox Church and the other local and traditional orthodox churches such as the Russian, the Greek or the Serbian one?

Fr. Johannes Johansen: We try to have good and friendly relations to them. But a great difference between them and us, is that they are very nationalistic, while we welcome people of all nationalities, for us the Orthodox faith and Tradition is the only thing that matters.

TP: Which are the most important Orthodox churches and monasteries in Norway?

St Nicholas Church in Oslo. St. Georges chapel in Neiden. St. Trifon monastery in Hurdal.

TP: I also wish to find out more information about the written books concerning the Orthodoxy in Norway. So, what books should we read so that we can better discover the Orthodox Church in Norway?

Fr. Johannes Johansen: In 2003 we published a book of the history of the parish of St Nicholas (the first and oldest parish in Norway) in Oslo. Now we are ready to publish a book about the monastery of St. Trifon also.

TP: Which is the main role and importance of the Orthodox Church in the Norwegian society at this moment?

Fr. Johannes Johansen: We try to defend traditional Christian dogma and moral standards againt modernism and secularisation. We are active in oecumenical movement to witness about Orthodoxy.

Fr. Johannes Johansen’s parish website can be found here.

This interview is one of many that will be published in the book “The rediscovery of Orthodox heritage of the West” by Tudor Petcu, containing interviews with different Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. It will be published in two volumes and the first one will appear by the end of this year.

Hl. Peter og hl. Paulus dag
29. juni (12. juli)


8.-9. juli ble hl Sunniva feiret på Selje. Fader Johannes forrettet Liturgi i Selje kirke fredag 8. juli sammen med munkediakon Serafim. Etterpå dro følget på pilegrimstur til Sunnivahulen på Selja hvor det ble bedt en moleben. Ca 30 personer deltok i markeringen.

Lørdag ble det feiret Liturgi i det nye ortodokse Mikaels-kapellet i Selje hvor f.Olav forettet sammen med munkediakon Agatangelos. Etter liturgien var det kirkekaffe i galleri Amdam hvor Caroline Serck-Hanssen holdt foredrag om hl. Trifon. Takk til f.Agatangelos som gjorde denne feiring mulig og til galleri-eier Kjell-Stig Amdam som åpnet galleriet og hjemmet sitt for oss.

Alle foto: Caroline Serck-Hanssen


Archbishop Job (Getcha) of Telmessos replaced another hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Metropolitan of Pergamon John (Zizioulas) in the post of co-chairman of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

Addressing Archbishop of Job at the meeting with a delegation of Constantinople held at the Vatican on June 28, Pope Francis greeted him on a new appointment. It was reported by Blahovest-info citing the Vatican’s press service.

Metropolitan John (Ziziulas) was born in 1931 in Greece. This is one of the most famous contemporary Orthodox theologians. He headed the commission since 2006, when its meeting was held in Belgrade after a long break. Previous meetings took place in 2000 in Emmitsburg (USA) and were dedicated to uniatism.

Archbishop Job (Getcha) was born on December 31, 1974 in Montreal into an ethnic Ukrainian family - natives of Galicia. He was a parishioner of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (in 1990 it was accepted in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople).

In 1996 he was ordained as hierodeacon, in 1998 he moved to France, where he was tonsured into the mantle by

Archimandrite Placide (Deseille). In 2003, he moved to Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe following the Russian tradition and was ordained hieromonk by Gabriel (de Vylder) of Komana.

He defended his doctoral thesis at St. Sergius Institute. He took part in the work of a number of committees. He was a lecturer at universities.

In 2004, he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite.

In 2013, he was elected chairman of the Western European Patriarchate. The episcopal ordination of Archimandrite Job was performed on 30 November of the same year by Patriarch Bartholomew in St. George's Cathedral in the Phanar (Istanbul).

On November 29, 2015 he was transferred to the post of representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

Archbishop Job is well familiar to those who followed the progress of the Cathedral of the Orthodox Churches in Crete. He was one of the main speakers at the daily press briefings.

(Kreta 2016)

I Faderens og Sønnens og Helligåndens navn.

Med takkesang, lovsyinger og tilber vi Gud i Treenighet, som har gitt oss i Pinsens høytidsdager å samles her på øyen Kreta, som har blitt helliggjort av Hl. Paulus, folkeslagenes Apostel, og hans disippel Titus, hans «ektefødte barn i vår felles tro» (Tit. 1, 4), og, ved Helligåndens inspirasjon, å gjennomføre møtene til vår Ortodokse Kirkes Hellige og Store Konsil – sammenkalt av Hans Allhellighet den Økumeniske Patriark Bartholomeos, ved fellesbestemmelse fra Deres Saligheter, de allhellige ortodokse kirkenes overhoder – til Hans hellige Navns ære og for stor velsignelse for Hans folk og for hele verden, som bekjenner med den guddommelige Paulus: «Således akte dere oss som Kristi tjenere og husholdere over Guds mysterier» (1 Kor. 4, 1).

Den ene, hellige, katolske og apostoliske Kirkes Hellige og Store Konsil utgjør et autentisk vitne til tro til Gudmennesket Kristus, Guds enbårne Sønn og Ord, som ved sin menneskevorden, ved alt sitt verk på jord, ved sitt offer på Korset og ved sin Oppstandelse, åpenbarte den Treenige Gud som uendelig kjærlighet. Med én røst og ett hjerte retter vi derfor dette budskapet om «det håp som bor i oss» (1 Peter 3, 15), ikke bare til vår allhellige Kirkes sønner og døtre, men til hvert menneske, «langt borte eller nær ved» (Ef. 2, 17). «Vårt håp» (1 Tim. 1, 1), verdens Frelser, ble åpenbart som «Gud med oss» (Matt. 1, 23) og som Gud «for vår skyld» (Rom. 8, 32), «som vil at alle mennesker skal bli frelst og komme til sannhets erkjennelse» (1 Tim. 1, 4). Vi forkynner Hans miskunn og skjuler ikke Hans store velsignelser, vi minnes Herrens ord om at «Himmel og jord skal forgå, men mine ord skal ingenlunde forgå» (Matt. 24, 35) og «fulle av glede» (1 Joh. 1, 4) forkynner vi troens, håpets og kjærlighetens Evangelium, mens vi ser frem til den «dag uten kveld og uten ende» (Basilios den Store, Om de seks dager II, PG 29.54). At vi har «vår borgerrett i himmelen» svekker på ingen måte vårt vitne i verden, men heller styrker det.

I dette følger vi tradisjonen til apostlene og vår Kirkes fedre som forkynte Kristus og, ved Ham, den frelsende erfaringen av Kirkens tro, og som talte om Gud «slik fiskere kaster et nett,» altså på apostolisk måte, til folk av hver alder for å forvalte til dem frihetens Evangelium, for «til frihet har Kristus frigjort oss» (Gal. 5, 1). Kirken lever ikke for seg selv. Hun ofrer seg selv for hele menneskeligheten for å løfte opp og fornye verden til en ny himmel og en ny jord (Åp. 21, 1). Hun vitner derfor til Evangeliet og forvalter Guds nådegaver i verden: Hans kjærlighet, fred, rettferd, forsoning, Oppstandelsens kraft og forventningen om det evige liv.

Oversatt av f. Kristian Akselberg

Hele encyklikaen kan leses her: