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North of the Arctic Circle, a thriving church

. 1 min read

Hammerfest, Norway, is home to the world’s northernmost United Methodist ministry. Photo by Karl Anders Ellingsen

By Johanna Lundereng and Karl Anders Ellingsen
March 15, 2016 | HAMMERFEST, Norway (UMNS)
The Rev. Per Bradley is exactly where he wants to be — “back home” in Hammerfest, Norway, serving the world’s northernmost United Methodist ministry.
Bradley is just a stone’s throw from the North Cape where he spent his early childhood. Despite being far north of the Arctic Circle, the harbor remains ice free because of the Gulf Stream. Hammerfest is home to some 10,000 people.
Six years ago, as Bradley signed up for a work placement for his seminary parish studies, he applied to join the ministry in Hammerfest. Bradley was excited about the possibilities.
“The work placement, gave me a taste for more of the ministry — and they expressed a desire for me to come back to them. Pastor Leif Anders Hansen was about to end his service at the same time as I was starting mine, so we both got what we wanted,” Bradley said.
Hammerfest proved a good fit for Bradley. The church’s former pastor mentored the newcomer, while giving him complete responsibility.
Per and his wife, Hanne Bradley, arrived in Hammerfest to a warm reception from both the congregation and the city. “Many … stepped up and helped us settle here,” Bradley said.
Today Hammerfest is a church on the move.
Initially, Bradley said, “I sensed the ministry was in the middle of a generational shift.