The Maranata Church in Stockholm is probably the only charismatic church in Sweden that practises community of goods. A month ago when I visited the Jesus Army, one of very few British churches practising community of goods, I got to know two girls from Maranata: Anne-Lie and Elaine Vidén. Up to that point I had thought that no Christian groups in Sweden besides the monasteries had everything in common like the apostolic church in the book of Acts, but the Vidén sisters told me about how they had been living all their life in an extended family community. Yesterday, I paid them a visit.
The Maranata Church runs a hotel called Pilgrim’s Home close to Bromma Airport in Stockholm. Most of the community’s members work in the hotel or in a taxi firm that the church also runs. All the income the businesses generate goes to the account of the church, which pays for food and accommodation for the community’s members. On top of that, they also receive €70 every month to spend on what they want.
This system is very similar to how the Jesus Army works. They also run businesses which generate income to the community, they also pool their income into a common account and they also get pocket money – around 40 pounds a month.
Many of the Maranata community’s members live in parts of the hotel, but since everyone cannot fit in there the church also rents other houses and apartments in Stockholm. The hotel is quite cheap and unlike many other hotels they don’t have much problem with accommodating homeless people, addicts and asylum seekers, which has made the Pilgrim’s Home very popular among the social service.
The staff told me about how Christer Pettersson, an alleged murderer of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme, had been staying on the hotel for quite some time and had attended the church meetings. They had told him about God’s forgiveness and love, and he was weeping from time to time, but they did not know if he truly received Christ or not.
I got to talk to Camile, a Christian Syrian refugee who had joined the church not long ago. He had his own “mini hotel” outside the building – a caravan. The hospitality and love this church had showed him had obviously encouraged him a lot, and they helped him with his Swedish skills even if some of the girls couldn’t resist to joke around with him (like teaching him to say “cake a bake” instead of “bake a cake”).
The Maranata Church has been through some severe controversies throughout the decades, but my impression when I was there was that it was a healthy community with lots of love, support and spirituality. They’re a charismatic church, with revival meetings and an emphasis on Spiritual gifts, and they regularly do different sorts of street evangelism which is awesome (and something that the Jesus Army should step up doing). God bless them!