Testament or memorial?
The building you see in the foreground below was originally built in Newport Docks by the Norwegian Seamen’s mission. It was intended to give Scandinavian seamen a place to met with their fellow countrymen and a means to sustain their faith when far from home. In 1910 it relocated to Swansea, and then in 1996 the mission moved to close it. However, a Pastor asked for permission to keep it going, and he did so for the next 32 years. When the waterfront was redeveloped over 10 years later, it was relocated again next to the historic icehouse as part of the chic new development. It now houses contemporary jeweller, Mari Thomas . Its ecclesiastical shabby chic of corrugated iron now stands in marked contrast to the steel and glass buildings behind it. It looks a little overwhelmed, as does the mighty St Paul’s cathedral with the sea of tents lapping at its door.
When I saw this church last week I couldn’t quite decide whether it looked forlorn or proud. I was reminded again of the ’empty’ Belgian church featured on this blog earlier in the year. Is this ‘tin church’ , robbed of its original purpose, a testament to the enduring nature of faith, or a memorial to a bygone age?
What do you think?