New hope for Roma in Sweden

Most of the United Methodist congregations in Sweden have become part of the new Equmeniakyrkan. But the small church in Östersund is still part of the UMC.

The small United Methodist congregation in Östersund towards the north of Sweden, under the committed leadership of Arne and Ulla-Gun Ångman, former missionaries to Sierra Leone, has for many years had a strong ministry reaching out into the community. Ulla-Gun grew up in Cambine (Mozambique) as a missionary child and since then returned to Mozambique several times, and now the congregation supports Cambine as its mission project.

Over the years, the church has reached out to the refugee and migrant community in Östersund, and when they observed that a large group of Roma from Bulgaria and Romania had come to the city, they began to act. They began to build relationships to Roma begging in the streets of Östersund and to learn about the Romani culture and their background in Bulgaria.

The support from the Fund for Mission in Europe enabled them to take the ministry to the next level, which included building personal connections with United Methodists in Bulgaria in ministry with Roma in order to learn more about how to develop their own ministry in the most effective and culturally sensitive way.

The ministry began on a small scale by building relationships, by offering possibilities to take a shower or to do the laundry, and by building fellowship over a meal. As Roma migrants are not allowed to participate in the government’s official language courses, the need for language classes soon became apparent, and as a result, simple language classes are offered in the evening on a weekly base. A sewing and other handicraft workshop, which will hopefully generate some income for those involved, was also started.

Finally, a very important aspect of this ministry is practical assistance on the journey towards self-sufficiency, i.e. helping Roma to find employment as well as housing, and encouraging and supporting them in the process of integration into the Swedish society.

As Ulla-Gun and Arne Ångman are saying: «Our involvement with this group has only grown deeper, and we are going to continue to do what we can to support the Roma in Sweden. We pray that God in the future will teach and show us how to help in the best possible way.»

Source: Fund for Mission in Europe
Date: July 6, 2016