January 27, 2023

Rodney Sjöberg, Betelhöjdens Minikyrka / Betelhöjden's Mini Church

pictures are screenprints from the video
referred to in the documentation

Along the Kobergsvägen road, between the communities of Koberg and Upphärad in Sweden, a self-built church, probably the smallest in the country, rises on a wooded hilly terrain.

Life and work

This singular architecture was created by Rodney Sjöberg (1929-2020), who lived in Trollhättan, a community slightly north of the small church. He was a son of the local pastor, was trained as a teacher and had a job as such. In addition to his work as a teacher, he was very interested in musical instruments, which he not only played, but also constructed or renovated himself.

On his initiative, the Nordic Psalmodicon Association was founded in 1993, an association of lovers of a string instrument known in Sweden, which is struck lying on a modified ironing board.

The terrain that houses this little church, was originally owned by a couple living in a nearby community. It was used for religious purposes, like a mission house was built in the 1940s that was managed by the Sollebrunn mission community.

When the missionary congregation became inactive in 1997, after some time the site was put up for sale and Rodney Sjöberg and his wife Lisbeth bought the property. 

Initially their idea was to use it for a summer residence, but since the land was originally used for spiritual and religious activities, they eventually decided to continue that tradition, maybe also because Rodney Sjöberg one night had a dream about building a small church. 

After reflecting on that dream the next morning he made a small cardboard model of the church as it had appeared in his dream. In 2000, in his early seventies and retired from his job as a teacher, he actually started building the little church he had dreamed of.

It became a structure with a floor area of 1.5 m² that can accommodate up to five people. The interior has a pulpit, a baptismal font and there are candleholders.

The dedication, attended by 80 people, took place in 2004 on the evening of Ascension Day. The bell in the bell tower on the roof of the small church was rung, Sjöberg played a hymn on a soprano saxophone and clergymen from nearby congregations blessed the church.

The church is always open and can be used for individual devotions, but also for other ceremonies such as baptisms and weddings.

A side note is that a neighboring motorcycle club has designated the church as their church. This has spread to other motorcycle clubs and they also visit regularly.

It has been said that Sjöberg had the intention to make a small organ with wooden pipes as was done in the Middle Ages, but there is no further information on this.

Rodney Sjöberg died in 2020 when he was in his early 90s. It may be assumed that a local congregation takes care of the maintenance of the small church.

* Article (September 2007) on Ttella website
* A variety of photos on  Picuki website

* Video by Susann Engeling (YouTube, 2022, 2'25")

Rodney Sjöberg, 
Betelhöjdens Mini Church, 
Kobergsvägen, Koberg, Sweden
can be visited

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