The Story of Jakob Church / The Church of St. James

Konsert i kirkerommet
Our church was built in 1880, and served as parish church for the working class area around it.

By 1985, the area was mostly taken over by commercial buildings – and a large percentage of the remaining population was no longer Lutheran – and so, the church closed its doors. The Bishop of Oslo wanted to tear the structure down to save on maintenance costs, triggering the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage to step in and preserve it. However, over the next fifteen years, the building gradually fell into decay, only occasionally being used by squatters and small underground parties. Kirkelig Kulturverksted (Church Cultural Workshop) saw the building’s potential as a Church of Culture, but it took 14 years of intense lobbying, fundraising and tremendous volunteer effort before the necessary funds was in place to restore the building as part of a wider renewal effort in the worn-down Eastern parts of central Oslo. A cultural grant from the Norwegian Cultural Council and large donations from Norwegian bank Nordea and others allowed for installation of new interior, musical instruments + necessary sound and lighting equipment. The Jakob Church of Culture finally reopened the massive wooden church doors on February 18th, 2000.

After its first 16 years of operation, Jakob is well established as one of Oslo’s most iconic cultural spaces, having cooperated with nearly all the major festivals and performing arts institutions in Norway. The Jakob Mass is held every Sunday at 8pm, and KKV has its own «living room» for recording, presenting new projects and our legendary Christmas concerts.

The establishment of Jakob as a Church of Culture has been an inspiration to other churches across Norway to call themselves churches of culture too, and research shows Norwegian churches as a whole is the fastest growing arena for cultural perfomances.