Congregations Must Meet the Challenges of the Present
R o u b a i x – Congregations must meet the challenges of the modern world and advance further in their development. The Adventist theology professor Gabriel Monet (Collonge-sous-Saleve/Eastern France) appealed for this at the French Baptist Union’s annual conference in Roubaix. The event, which involved 280 delegates and up to 70 additional visitors, stressed the topic of church renewal. The 37-year-old Monet, who had once served as a church planter in Paris, added that congregations must understand what matters most to people around them. Only then will they be in the position to reach others with the Gospel of Christ. The population is in dire need of the message of God’s love, even if they are totally unaware of the fact.
Two anniversaries stood at the centre of the congress. Home Mission celebrated its 70th birthday and women’s work its 50th birthday. Participants were reminded that the deceased Raymond Collet had started doing evangelistic work in the suburbs of Lyon in 1938. He founded not only the congregation in Lyon, but also congregations in Grenoble and Marseille. Lucien Clerc was also active in the Home Mission division from the very beginning, working primarily in the west of France. He is now 87 years old, and is still active in La Rochelle. He was absent from the conference for the first time in 59 years. It was explained that he had “grown tired”. French home mission has the goal of planting new congregations in regions where there are currently none. The Home Mission division is supported in its work by the Baptist Unions of Germany, England, Sweden and the USA.
The applause would not end as Etienne Lhermenault (Paris), the Union’s General-Secretary for the past 12 years, took leave of office. He was bid farewell by Union President Christian de la Roque (Marcq-en-Baroeul). He will remain in office until July, beginning to work as a teacher at the Bible school in Nogent-sur-Marne in September. His place will be taken for an interim period by David Razzano, until now Director of the Department for Home Mission and Evangelisation. David Boydell, the former head of a language school in Massy near Paris, will be taking over this department. This interim solution will only be in force until September 2009. A new General-Secretary will be elected at that time.
A total of 114 congregations with approximately 18.000 members make up the Baptist Union of France.