The City of Paris has long been the setting for romance and adventure. In her memoirs, The Only Street in Paris, master story-teller Elaine Sciolino recounts the marvels of the intricate, richly-human, colorful lives on a single street, La Rue des Martyrs, in the Pigalle Quarter. There she could purchase the best foods, buy the most specialized books, and witness the many public spectacles on the sidewalks. Each of its dwellers is a character, and each has a contribution to make. Paris is also the setting for the generation of world-changing trends and ideas.
Significantly the Rue des Martyrs is bookended by two historic churches, Notre Dame de Lorette and the Sacré-Cœur. Paris is populated by churches throughout the city. A many of them have stories going far back into the recesses of history. Sadly, not all of them have kept their original verve. Yet new initiatives are occurring on a regular basis. And they still connect with history, without being stuck in nostalgia.
Here is a marvelous story. A number of years ago Samuel Foucachon, a graduate of Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence, was working for a Jewish business man who knew he was a Christian and was deeply aware of Protestant history (there has always been a special connection between the Jewish community and French Huguenots who harbored them during the Nazi occupation). The man invited Samuel into his home and gave him a Bible from 1638. This Bible included a copy of the Gallican Confession, a rarity in that day. It had originally belonged to a Pastor Jacques Lafon, who signed the Confession. Today this Bible has come back to the Latin Quarter of Paris, where the Confession had originally been proclaimed. Samuel is the founding pastor of a church in the Chapelle de Nesle, two blocks from where the first Reformed synod met to ratify the Confession. Such an historical link gives credibility to the new church.
Samuel is not the only church-planter in Paris. Aix graduate Benoit Engel is working with Ed and Laura Nelsen, who have been involved in planting a church in the 17th arrondissement, where I grew up! The International Presbyterian church is planning to establish a community led by Westminster grad Gethin Jones. There are many more. As one person put it, “It’s the light of Jesus in the City of lights.”
Very Truly Yours,