A GEM FOR EVERYONE

5th May 2016

On a recent visit to Iceland a discovery was made that everyone should know of. This is nothing new and some may be aware of Hlidardalsskoli, but it's value should be reiterated. I discovered that there is a school and conference centre that is willing and waiting to host you if you want to visit the country, whether by group or as individuals. And the best part is that you will have the freedom to decide your own agenda, meals and accomodation. This centre is well prepared to deal with most conference type meetings as well as leasure needs, and the staff is willing to adjust the tarrifs according to the visitor's needs. Just have a word with them.

Eric Gudmundsson is part of the staff, managing and maintaining the Hlidardalsskoli school in Iceland. This is an Adventist Retreat Centre in Iceland and it has 2 dormitories, a boys and a girls side. The school has a good gym as well, and on the school premises are homes related to the school. Each dormitory has it's own kitchen, making catering something that can happen independently should there be such a need.

The school was built in 1950 and was planned as a boarding school for the Adventist church in Iceland. The school catered for pupils from Grade 8 to 10, which is 13 to 16 year olds. The school was built up and it developed as the years went by, and after 20 years of adding the result is where it is now. The school ended up with more than 90 students.

Due to changes in society the school discontinued operations as a school in 1995. Since 1999 it has been upgraded as retreat centre. Iceland went through difficult years, and the question of selling the property came up. At the Iceland Session of 1996/7 the idea to sell the property was discussed. The price offered was so low, that it wasn’t feasible to sell. Since then the economy has changed so much, the value of the plot is much higher now. The staff know that real estate values will continue go up, so they feel that this property remains an excellent investment.

The staff are constantly reviewing what to do with this place. They maintain that it can be a great asset to the church which can be used used for growth in many areas, an oppertunity for evangelism, both in Iceland and abroad.

The process of maintaining the property has its values embedded in the ownership of church, that should not be a burden, that it should serve the mission statement of the church and that it should enhance Christianity in the country.

Situated 40 km outside Reykjavik, the school offers interesting sights around, beautiful countryside which is free and open, and which allows those who visit more than enough activities with recreative purposes.

The rooms in the dormitories can handle up to 70 people. Camping is also an option.

One of the most interesting features of this gem is the water resources. Hot water is as free as the cold water. The school drilled a hole into the ground in 1965 almost a mile deep, and as a result there is a constant flow of water which is 120 degrees, coming up free from below. This water is used for heating the buildings. The staff see this natural hot water as a tremendous blessing for the place. When the school initially wanted to drill for hot water, the government wasn’t sure there was enough activity for heating around there, but the church members persisted and special equipment was borrowed from the government to make explosions and drilling this deep. And since 1967 the hole has provided hot water without pause.

Earthquakes happen about 100 years apart, but in 2000 a 6.7 points on the Richter Scale earthquake happened, and 2008 another. These quakes caused water hole to actually improve, amid fears that it may be worse after an earthquake. The school also benefitted from a 13th Sabbath intake in the late 60’s to improve the property.

During this time the government said that the church is small and uninfluential. But the worldwide church convinced the government that this is not a small church. The contributions made by the world church told the story that this is a worldwide comunity of believers, and when the world church responded, the government was convinced and approved all the work related to the water hole.

The school had seen many visitors throughout the years, including Icelandic Pastoral councils, other councils from the Trans European Division of Seventh-day Adventists, visitors from the USA like Pastor Dwight Nelson, and other representatives thoughout the division.

The school is preparing and planning to host a Geoscience Research Institute conference in July 2016. Movie makers are also interested, and Hollywood made part of the blockbuster, Noah, with actors such as Russel Crow and Anthony Hopkins on the premises. This happened in the cave, around 500 meters from the school buildings, and now the cave is more known as Noah’s cave. More crews have used this area as backdrop for films and fashion shows, etc.

Development at the school is open for so many options. The sky is the limit. Resources are small. The staff would like to maintain the place as spiritual watering hole for the church.

This is the place where you can find the cleanest water in the world. The melting water from nearby glaciers is estimated to be 1600 years old, and has fallen as snow in a time when there was no pollution on the island at all. You can buy bottled water like this, or make the trip to Hlidardalsskoli, you will never regret it.

To make contact with the school, please email Elias Theodórsson at elias@4e.is

[Jimmy Botha]


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