Stream Christmas into the New Flekkerøy Church

Even with strict COVID restrictions, Flekkerøy Church has space to invite people for a stroll inside on Christmas Eve. And the Christmas services are streamed straight to homes.

“It will be a different Christmas. But! There will still be Christmas this year,” says Roy Øverland, managing director of Flekkerøy Church. For the residents of southern Norway, who may constitute the country’s most active congregation, the absence of normal church use is keenly felt during the pandemic. The brand-new church, completed just before Christmas in 2019 by Hille Melbye Arkitekter and Einar Dahle Architects, is typically in use all the time.

“The church is centrally located on the island, and it is in use around the clock, seven days a week. We miss the church as a meeting place; it’s a state of emergency. Fortunately, we have been able to maintain services for children and youth,” Øverland explains.

STREAMING CHRISTMAS IN: This year, there will be a Christmas Eve service for both young and old streamed right to living rooms via Facebook.

Digital alternatives don’t replace physical Christmas experience

While the longing for the church is significant in everyday life, Øverland doesn’t expect it to diminish during the holidays.

“For many, Christmas Eve is about going to church, including those who don’t frequent the church much during the rest of the year. That’s why we wanted to offer the opportunity for people to come for a Christmas walk with us on Christmas Eve,” Øverland explains.

When it became clear that Norwegian churches couldn’t accommodate more than 50 people for Christmas services, Flekkerøy Church decided to record two services to be streamed on Christmas Eve. This way, everyone can watch them from home on Facebook. However, it will also be possible to visit the church on Christmas Eve.

“People can come for a Christmas walk and see the church interior, the stable, the crib, listen to Christmas music, meet the staff, and hear the Christmas gospel. The digital can never replace coming together and experiencing Christmas physically,” says Øverland, who looks forward to being able to gather 1400 people for services again sometime in the new year.

Churches designed by Hille Melbye over the years

Flekkefjord Church (2020)

“NY HORIZON” aims to become the powerhouse for a modern congregation built on strong traditions. The existing church will be preserved and incorporated into the new church building with a new church hall and a new church square. The new church building will be functional, visionary, and sustainable. The main feature of the project is a “transverse axis.”

Spikkestad Church and Cultural Center (2018)

Together with Einar Dahle Architects, we have won a competition for a new church and cultural center in the center of Spikkestad. We have continued the collaboration during the implementation. The proposal “Løft” (Lift) presents a compact solution over two levels for the new church and cultural center in Spikkestad. Compact yet generous, with ample capacity for simultaneous use and clear readability.

Jessheim Church (2017)

The old church with a parish hall and office wing was built in the 1980s-90s according to Hille Melbye’s drawings. Over time, the church proved to be too small and could not be expanded. In 2016, the church building itself was demolished and replaced by a new church. Additionally, a new tower, expansion of the office wing, and a separate section for addiction care were added.

Snarøya Church (1968)

Snarøya Church is a functionalist concrete sculpture constructed in a rectangular form. It is dominated by raw concrete where the traces of the formwork actively contribute to the church’s ornamentation. Since the church was located in the flight path of Fornebu Airport, there were restrictions on height and requirements for sound insulation.

Åssiden Church (1968)

Åssiden Church in Drammen is crafted in hand-hewn brick. The church presents itself as a cohesive yet dissolved form with round arches and an apse in the plan. With its characteristic cylindrical shapes in speckled, red brick, organized from the main entrance towards the choir with increasing height and decreasing width, the church is an eye-catching and powerful symbol that sets it apart from the surrounding buildings.