My name is Jon Aalborg. I was born in 1959 in the north of Norway, where my father was a teacher at a boarding school for young adults. My mother also worked as a teacher. I grew up in the town of Trondheim and have lived most of my adult life in Oslo.
As a young man I wanted to study theology but after a few years I found it to be hard to keep theology, faith and the rest of my life together. I left seminary and did some other subjects, worked, and started a family. My wife Torbj?rg (“Tori”) and I now have three grown children and will celebrate our 30th anniversary next year, God willing. During the late 1980s and well into the 2000s I made my living mostly from self-made IT expertise in the publishing industry and with Apple Computer, though I also worked as a truck and bus driver, a night watchman, and an IT salesman. A varied career!
Faith and the Church would not leave me alone and I needed to reorient my life. In 2004 I was asked to take up a position in Egypt as an IT director of a Christian publishing house in Cairo so I left Apple. That was my first time ever in Egypt. A year into my stay I got to hear about the ETSC and immediately decided I wanted to do an MA program in Middle Eastern Christianity there. I graduated in 2007. That means an MA in ME Chr. from the ETSC (2007), another MA in Theology from the Norwegian School of Theology (1984, 2010) and a BA in the History of Ideas from the University of Oslo (1989).
In 2010, after 32 years, I was finally ordained. That must be a small record! Since then I have been a pastor in the Church of Norway (Lutheran) – first a chaplain (or curate) for 18 months in an urban Oslo congregation, and now a vicar in the small industrial and trading town of Kirkenes. The municipality and parish have almost 10,000 inhabitants. It is several hundred km north of the Arctic Circle and as far east as Istanbul and Cairo, close to Russia’s north-western border. It has Norwegian, Sami, Finnish and Russian influences and traditions. It is a very exciting but also challenging area.
My years at the ETSC were extremely important to me. They gave me a solid grounding in Middle Eastern and Ancient Church history. The Coptic tradition and the ETSC have shaped me decisively as a theologian and a preacher and I am forever grateful to God and to Egypt for that enormous gift.