The subject of this newsletter is bitter-sweet. Two of the “founding fathers,” two giants in the Reformed Faith in France, are retiring from the Seminary at Aix. Although they will have successors, in one way their shoes are impossible to fill.
Paul Wells came to Aix, with his wife Alison, and their family, before the beginning. That is, they arrived before the official opening of 1974, to teach some courses and help create the new Seminary. Paul not only recruited a solid team of instructors, but established the Chair of Systematic Theology, which he has occupied now for 38 years. He has been a prolific author, writing in both languages, French and English. His doctoral dissertation was published in 1980, on the subject: James Barr and the Bible: A Critique of a New Liberalism. Professor Barr himself attended the defense, and praised the book! Paul is one of the most able theologians in Europe. He is an active minister in the Evangelical Reformed Church, and Alison co-authored a fresh Sunday School curriculum for the church. Paul and Alison have lived on the campus all these years, having poured themselves into the work. Their children, Anna, Judith and Jonathan are grown and married. The Wells look forward to moving back to their native England.
Pierre Berthoud was recruited in the Seminary’s second year from l’Abri, where he and his wife Danièle were working alongside Dr Francis Schaeffer. A Swiss, born in South Africa, his training is in Old Testament and the Hebrew language. He taught in the Old Testament and Apologetics departments, and served as the Doyen (Seminary President) for 19 years. Besides his speaking and writings, Pierre has been a tireless leader in numerous organizations. I have lost count of how many boards he sits on, and presides over, but among the most significant are La Ligue (Scripture Union), the World Reformed Fellowship, the Parvis des Arts, the National Council of the French Evangelical Alliance, and the Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians. Pierre is a consummate statesman. Danièle has been active in editing, and spearheading the Study Abroad Program in France for Gordon College, from which she will retire this year. The Berthoud’s children, Philippe, Damaris, Arielle and Stéphanie are grown and well established in their careers. Pierre and Danièle plan to stay in Aix-en-Provence and continue to lend a hand in many ministries as well as entertain their eight grand children.
Words fail me to express the debt the Seminary owes to these two men and their families. Even more difficult is expressing my own personal gratitude for these two colleagues, who are among my dearest friends. All we can say, is “Thank you, dear Lord, for your rare gift.”
Very Truly Yours,
William Edgar, President