|Olof Hellström, ‘the city artist’, is also Missionskyrkan’s artist. He has been responsible for the forming of the relief To Be Born Again, the mural painting The Tree of Life, the background engravings The Fish and the Lamb, the candle holder The Ship and the clock tower, the campanile.|
|The relief in the front is the theological and architectural centre of the church. It is the artist’s response to the challenge given to him by the congregation to form death and life, crucifixion and resurrection.|
|Christ’s wounded body is hewn directly into the bricks of the church wall and fixed to the cross with thick removable nails. Immediately above the body there is a bright pillar of colour painted on the plaster in an al secco technique. There, through the contours of a foetus, a pregnant woman can be imagined, half turned towards the observer. In the next moment we see the head of the infant, bursting into life through the pregnant woman’s womb. In the midst of the cross life is born. Christ is the child again. The darkest moment of life – death – is transformed into the most radiant joy, the new life.|
|The theme of life and death returns in the tall mural painting The Tree of Life (see the front page of the brochure). In this we recognise the annual cycle – from bare branches, through the bursting into leaves, blossom, fruits and again to the naked tree. A journey in time, through storm and sunshine, a tree with a strong root system drawing via an invisible source its water from the baptismal well.|
|The Fish – an early recognised secret symbol of confession – and ΙΧΘΥΣ (the Greek word for fish), initial letters for I(esous), Ch(ristos), Th(eou), (H)y(ios), S(oter), Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.|
|The Lamb is looking backwards to the Christ monogram where the A and Ω, alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, are added. This motif is also seen in the church’s funeral pall The Ribbon of Eternity.|
|Above the doors into the worship area two texts from the old church are moulded and gilded: God is love. In the Son there is life. This is a message which is also moulded into the biggest bell: God so loved the world (John 3.16).|
|Around the relief there appears to be a circle, partly painted over and thus open, a two dimensional earth, whose rounded shape is also found in the candle holder The Ship. It can be seen again in a three dimensional form at the top of the church tower, placed free standing from the church. This campanile – also called To Be Born Again – is held upright by concrete pillars. They can be seen as God’s strong arms, whose hands encircle the globe, cosmos, broken through by the cross.|
|This motif can also be found on the outer wall of the church facing Dragarbrunnsgatan: the globe|
with the arms of the cross which also can be understood as the sun’s disc, the wheel and the compass-rose.
| ||Along with Olof Hellström’s works of art we find in the church Margareta Södersten Johansson’s icons – Christ accompanied by the angels Gabriel and Michael and in a different place Mary and the child Jesus – painted in Nordic colours, lighter than traditional icons. This signifies that ‘Missionskyrkan’ is part of the church universal.|
Outside The Crypt there is a vivid larger painting, The Hope and Future of Latin America, painted on the church premises in the 80s. This piece of work was undertaken collectively by Latin American refugees, expressing their dreams and the confidence in the strength of a people longing for liberation.
Text Bernt Jonsson
Translation Kerstin and Donald Eadie
Photo Johan Lindblom (Olof Hellström 1983); Göran Almlöf
Missionskyrkan in Uppsala was consecrated on the 1st Sunday in Advent 1983, thus replacing the church in Kungsgatan 18 which had been the home of the congregation since 1875. The architect Jan-Ove Fogelberg of ‘Aros Arkitekter’ and the artist Olof Hellström gave shape to the church and, in particular, to the worship space in a uniquely close collaboration between the church members, friends and the building committee. This also included the design of the organ, built by Nils-Olof Berg, Nye. You can read about it HERE.