Hope Cathedral rises from ocean drowning in plastic

By agency reporter
October 19, 2018

For three decades, Solveig Egeland’s walks along the starkly beautiful beaches near Fredrikstad, Norway, where the Glomma River flows into the North Sea, have been “like medicine” for her.  “I love this landscape, the moorlands, the boulders, the archipelago, so open and free”, said Egeland, an artist and cultural advisor to the Church of Norway’s Diocese of Borg.

However, for some time, the shorelines near the artist’s home have been polluted as plastic and other rubbish from the sea piles up. “My trail has been polluted”, Egeland adds.

She worked with children in the area to build colourful cottages from the sea waste – but the pollution from the sea kept coming. The community needed a symbol to create hope amid the groaning creation. Then she envisioned a building of many colours emerging from the ocean – Hope Cathedral. “The winter storms had carried in lots of rubbish and the beaches were covered in litter. "Are these the footprints we want to set in nature?" she asks.

This European autumn, 35 volunteers led by traditional boat-builders from Fredrikstad began creating Hope Cathedral. It will combine wooden construction with the ocean plastics, says Anne Skauen, the project manager.

“The plastics will be used in the roof, which is about 300 square metres. We are inspired by the Norwegian stave churches, our contribution to world heritage, and aim to combine traditional building techniques with our ‘modern’ world. The roof will be a huge plastic painting, where the sun shines through the ocean plastics and figuratively speaking, transforms suffering into joy and something beautiful”,  Skauen said.

Instigated by the Diocese of Borg, the Hope Cathedral is a ground-breaking project merging the interests of modern art, world heritage, the environment and Lutheran theology that brings many different people together in a hopeful enterprise.

The project manager explained that the Hope Cathedral is rooted in the local community and Lutheran theology. People in Fredrikstad and the surrounding region have a strong relationship with the ocean and the fact that it is drowning in garbage.

Hope Cathedral reflects the Church of Norway’s commitment to Diakonia and the integrity of creation. “The project gives Lutheran creation theology a visible symbol and stimulates hope in the everyday baptismal life”, Skauen said.

The cathedral also promotes the idea of an inclusive community. Organisers are working hard to anchor the project as an interfaith endeavour by encouraging interfaith participation in the building process.

The Hope Cathedral website calls the project: “Our temple, our mosque, our synagogue, our church and our sacred room.”

* More about Hope Cathedral here

* Lutheran World Federation https://www.lutheranworld.org/


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