How it all began
– Word of Life’s history
Word of Life Church in Uppsala was founded on 24 May 1983 by Ulf and Birgitta Ekman and at that time, with about 20 members. From that day onward, our church has been growing, both in numbers of members and in what we do. Today, it is represented in a number of countries and has several large international centres. The international network is called Word of Life International (WOLI) and has inspired the founding of over 1,000 churches, Bible schools, training programs for pastors and leaders and rehab centres for drug and alcohol addicts. The church in Uppsala currently has about 2,000 signed-up members.
At the beginning of the 1970s, Ulf Ekman was involved in a group of students who took part in Bible studies and student evangelism. He later also became a student priest at Uppsala University. Through his father-in-law Sten Nilsson and during a one-year course of study at the Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Ulf came in contact with faith teaching, and this has characterised his teaching and pastoral leadership over the years. His sermons on faith and the following of Jesus in a radical way attracted a great deal of attention among Christians in Sweden. More and more people came and joined Word of Life and the church grew rapidly. In the autumn of 1983, our Bible school – Word of Life Bible Centre – was also launched and over the years, more than ten thousand students have come and studied here.
Other milestones in the history of Word of Life are the start of Word of Life’s Christian School (1985), and our Senior High School (1990). In 1986, the congregation took a great leap of faith and financial giving when, with only 200 members, we began building the church that now houses our activities in Uppsala. In the summer of 1987, the main hall (the Sanctuary) was completed. In 1994, we also started the Word of Life University (LOU) with three faculties, which over the years have educated students and pastors in theology and leadership, both in Sweden and abroad. LOU later changed its name to the Word of Life Theological Seminary (LOTS). In 2014, Word of Life released its management of LOTS and since then it has been run as an independent theological college under the name of the Scandinavian School of Theology.
In 2013, Ulf and Birgitta handed over the leadership of Word of Life to Joakim Lundqvist and his wife Maria. The following year, Ulf and Birgitta announced that, following a personal journey in their faith, they had chosen to convert to Catholicism and in consequence were initiated into the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, with Joakim and Maria at the helm, we have together been on a developing journey of defining our identity, of self-examination and a pursuit of unity in the Body of Christ. We look with great expectation to the future for our church and believe that God has great plans for us. He has opened many doors to new projects and collaborations and we believe that He is going to become even more visible in our church, in our beloved Sweden and abroad.
At present, there are Word of Life congregations in three locations in Sweden, the mother church in Uppsala led by Senior Pastor Jan Blom, a church in Jönköping led by pastor Eddie Stigson and another in Gothenburg led by pastor Lennart Fjell. Over the years, we have also established an extensive international network within which we have planted more than a thousand churches, are running many Bible schools, constantly run pastors’ and leadership training courses, are sending television broadcasts, carrying out missions work, and doing humanitarian work among the needy and in the wake of natural disasters. All the time, we see how God leads us onward in our work and how He opens new and exciting doors and opportunities on the mission field.
The word from God that has served as the foundation of our church since the beginning is still very much alive;
“Equip God’s people with His Word of Faith. Show them their spiritual weapons. Teach them to how to use them and send them out in victorious battle for the Lord.”