26 May 2022 |
At the end of March, Seventh-day Adventists in Iceland were featured in a large full-spread article in Iceland’s oldest and most venerable newspaper, Morgunblaðið [The Morning Paper], in a piece about the church’s investment in mining and tourism. The story involves Seventh-day Adventist member Eiríkur Ingvarsson, who has helped the church turn a piece of land it owned into a source of income—one that has the added advantage of being also environmentally friendly.
The property, about 5,000 acres, was purchased by the church in 1947 for a boarding school, Hlíðardalsskóli. The school has since closed, but not before Eiríkur was a student there, which led him to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Says Eiríkur, “Later it was revealed that this land is rich in resources. In addition, it contains unique natural wonders and geothermal energy.”
Eiríkur’s contribution was to start a company to use a combination of minerals from mines on the church’s land to replace fly ash, a key ingredient for making concrete. Fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal, is in short supply as coal-fired plants across Europe have switched to cleaner energy sources. Eiríkur found that a volcanic ash known as tuff
found in Adventist mines in Litla-Sandfell and Lambafell can be fully utilized for this purpose. But the mines do little good, individually. By mixing the rock together from these two mountains, a material is created that has similar properties to fly ash. They can therefore be the key to solving the headaches associated with the closure of coal mines.
Construction companies are eager to use this mineral to replace the less environmentally friendly fly ash.
The church also owns a lava-tube cave, Raufarhólshelli, which is operated for tourists on their behalf by another company. Eiríkur has also been involved with strengthening the business plans for this natural wonder. He says that “the development of Raufarhólshellur is one of the most fun projects he has been involved in.”
The Adventist Yearbook shows the church in Iceland to have 6 churches and a membership of 465. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006, at which time its membership was around 600. Growing the church in Iceland is, according to the report of the centennial celebration, difficult, both because of Iceland’s small population (around 366,000) and “strong secularism” that “hinders church growth.”
According to Morgunblaðið,
Eiríkur says that this is a turning point in the strength of the church…. “The operation has been good, but large projects such as mining further strengthen the work. It has been strong domestically and it will be possible to strengthen it even further with this. I do not have a seat at the table where these decisions are made, but the church has always been involved in humanitarian work. My dream was to be able to build aid work abroad as well, even to support the education of girls and young women in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.”