INTRODUCING MEMBERS OF BCC


With around 8,800 members, BCC is only a small group in Norway. Nevertheless, many believe the public impression of BCC is not always accurate. We have asked dozens of members about their everyday lives, and what they think of being presented as outsiders in society.


By Johanne Reiersrud – Photo: private

In the work of investigating and cleaning up after the influence operation that has taken place against BCC, it has emerged that it has been a completely conscious strategy to describe BCC as a dubious assembly outside ordinary society. This is clear from documentation that has been uncovered in connection with the investigation of the case.

Unfortunately, it is nothing new that BCC members experience that their congregations and communities are portrayed as something they are not.

We also see the same trend in recent years’ media coverage of BCC, and recently through a number of questions from NRK Brennpunkt. It is very harmful, not least for our members, when wrong impressions are not corrected.

Who are BCC’s members?

BCC’s members are ordinary people that you meet in normal places in everyday life; at your job, when you pick up your children from daycare, or when meeting other parents at school council meetings. They have different educational and cultural backgrounds, and can be your nurse, lawyer, or handyman. We have spoken to dozens of members, and here you meet five of them.

Miriam Twilley Olsen (35)
Home: Tønsberg, Norway
Profession: Nurse

What is a normal day for you?

I am a nurse at Tønsberg Hospital, where I work almost full-time, mostly on night shifts. I really enjoy and love the challenges that come with the job. I like working shifts, as my days are varied.

I am married with four children between 4 and 14 years old, and we are probably like most families who have hectic evenings filled with after-school activities. I love to work out, and manage several sessions every week despite a busy schedule. I like to exercise with friends because then it is almost like a coffee break, except we get healthier rather:). I have done some volunteering at my children’s’ school, but I had to drop this during COVID-19 because of the added restrictions put on my profession in the past half year.

Why are you a member of BCC?

I am a member of BCC primarily for myself because I have a personal faith in Jesus and the life He lived, and opportunity I have to follow Him. In BCC I get help and inspiration to achieve what I believe in. My children can grow up with good, healthy values, which will provide them a good starting point in life, no matter what path they choose for themselves.

What do you think of the allegation that BCC operates outside the mainstream of Norwegian society?

I am very skeptical of the characterization of BCC as a church on the outskirts of society. I see myself as a parent, a colleague, and a taxpayer on equal footing with others around me. I am a part of a community that makes me a happy person.

I cannot accept that my personal faith makes me less valuable in our society. As a citizen, I respect others and the values they have. It is natural to expect mutual respect.

Torill Ellefsen (51)
Home: Horten, Norway
Profession: High school teacher

What is a normal day for you?

My everyday life consists mainly of work and, and partly of studies, as I am a part-time student. In addition, I spend time with my children and husband, other family, youth and others who stop by. I also try to spend time together with my friends. I previously played violin in the Vestfold Symphony Orchestra and the Drammen City Orchestra, and have always volunteered at the school, the school band and at the music school where our children have participated for many years.

Why are you a member of BCC?

I am a member of BCC because what we learn there has made me a happy person. I have without a doubt become warmer and more inclusive towards other people. In addition to that, the belief that God loves me, follows me, and will help me no matter what happens, is a great security in my life. I have known people who have been in difficult situations or been seriously ill, but it went very well for them, and they still had enough of a surplus to bless others and not become bitter. For me this is proof of the power found in God.

What do you think of the allegation that BCC operates outside the mainstream of Norwegian society?

I find it stigmatizing and ignorant to characterize us as a church on the fringes. I participate just as much in society as my colleagues and neighbors who are not in BCC. Of course, it can be that some families in BCC are less active in their local communities, but that applies to families who are not in BCC as well. We are free people, and an important part of our gospel is not to interfere in the affairs of others. Most people I know are socially active people. And in our family, we discuss everything from American politics to environmental protection, architecture, and Norwegian grammar when we gather around the dinner table.

Ole Johan Helgesen (41)
Home: Stathelle
Profession: General Manager of a payment processing company

What is a normal day for you?

My everyday life is relatively hectic as I am the general manager of a company with twelve employees. I am also a committed family man and enjoy going on trips with my family to the sea and to the woods.

During the week, a lot of time is spent driving to and from the children’s activities. My wife or I have also been school council representatives or class contacts while we have had children at school, and I am now the class contact for the 10th grade. I am also a volunteer coordinator and operations manager in our local church where I am a member, and I spend some time on that every week.

Why are you a member of BCC?

I am a member of BCC because that is where I find people with the same beliefs and interests as me. We and our children thrive as a part of this community, and I clearly see that the Good News which is preached also works in practice.

What do you think of the allegation that BCC operates outside the mainstream of Norwegian society?

I perceive this as completely wrong and do not recognize myself in the description “outside society”. We and our children participate where it is natural for us, and we obviously want to make a positive contribution to our school and local community. Our involvement in BCC in no way hinders our participation in society. I am personally very passionate about the atmosphere children grow up in, and that all children should feel safe at home and at school and experience a care-free and happy childhood.

Mona S. Olsen (44)
Home: Tønsberg, Norway
Profession: Administrative employee

What is a normal day for you?

I work in the office at a Christian high school, in addition to working shifts as an assisted living associate.

I have seven children between the ages of 4 and 24, who I am very proud of. I of course spend a lot of time with them and have always been involved in their school and extra-curricular activities, both inside and outside of our church. I also take a lot of time as an avid supporter for the children in their many football and hockey matches.

Why are you a member of BCC?

I was born and raised in BCC and am very grateful for that. As a Christian, it is valuable to belong to a Christian community, so it was a natural choice to stay in BCC where I have good friends with shared interests and life goals.

What do you think of the allegation that BCC operates outside the mainstream of Norwegian society?

I cannot understand that anyone thinks we are a church on the outside of society. I live my life in my local community on an equal footing with everyone else.

Andreas Frebrich (41)
Home: Fredrikstad, Norway
Profession: Department Manager,
Electronics and Automation

What is a normal day for you?

My day starts often with driving first to the daycare center, and then on to my job, where I work with great colleagues and customers. At home, dinner is often a gathering point before the kids’ activities begin. I help the kids with their homework and drive them to activities like climbing and gymnastics.

Why are you a member of BCC?

For me BCC is a place where I have friends and socialize with people who have the same basic outlook on life as I have. The focus on having many fantastic activities for children and youth is a bonus.

What do you think of the allegation that BCC operates outside the mainstream of Norwegian society?

I don’t find it positive that people who do not know anything about BCC get a negative impression. Those who I associate with daily, such as colleagues and other friends who do not belong to BCC, will probably describe it in a different way. If you were to compare society in general with the way it was in the 1980’s, there has been great development. We have also experienced a similar development in BCC.

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