Metal Sanctuary, which launched in mid-May, bills itself as “Sweden’s first church for metal heads”.
The church was formed from an ever-expanding network of Christians who “love hard rock and want to see the metal world transformed by God’s power,” according to a statement by the church’s founders.
“We want to be a safe-haven for Christian hard rockers where they can feel at home and grow spiritually, and where newly-converted hard rockers can develop their faith and be protected,” said the group.
The idea for Sweden’s Metal Sanctuary came to life following a 2003 trip to the United States by “hard rock pastor” Göran Jacobson, who hails from Norrköping in eastern Sweden.
During the visit, Jacobson stumbled upon a metal church outside of Los Angeles
“The psalm singing was great, there were distorted guitars, double bass drums…it was just rocking and I just…I was blown away, like they say over there. I almost fell over backwards,” Jacobson told Sveriges Radio (SR).
Currently, the Metal Sanctuary lacks a permanent physical sanctuary in Sweden. Instead members meet in small groups at people’s homes, which are spread around the country.
But the group hopes to eventually secure a permanent location where it can stage hard rock church services.
“We have a place here in town which would work pretty well, with four chimneys and that people refer to as a church. I think it would be a great place for a metal mass,” said Jacobson to SR.
“We could put up black curtains, have a metal band lead the singing and instead of an organ we’d have a distorted guitar, bass, and drums and a gravely-voiced singer.”
A big part of Metal Sanctuary’s mission is to spread the Metal Bible to secular metal heads, something which they did at the recent Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg in southern Sweden, and plan to repeat at other similar festivals and metal shows.
The Metal Bible is a special edition of the Bible for metal fans which contains the New Testament and testimonials from metal heads in which they discuss the importance of God and the Bible in their lives.
According to the Metal Bible’s website, Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden and Tommy Aldridge of Whitesnake are among the contributors to the book, which has sold around 40,000 copies in Swedish.
An English version of the Metal Bible has been completed and is due to be released in the autumn of 2009.
Also planned for the autumn is Metal Prayers Day 2009, a September 19th event to be held in Kumla in central Sweden and which the Metal Sanctuary claims will “make Swedish church history”.
Plans call for a day filled with focused prayer, songs of praise led by heavy metal bands, as well as Bible lessons.
“We encourage prayer warriors, pastors and spiritual leaders, and everyone else interested in bringing about a religious revival in the metal world to unite with us on this day,” said Metal Sanctuary.
“Nothing like it has ever happened before in Sweden.”