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NEUCHÂTEL CHURCH MAGAZINE
October – December 2017
Message from Rev. Ken Kvistad from our
Dear Neuchatel English Speaking Church Community,
We have passed through the summer vacation months in which many have been away. During this period the Council continued meeting and we have kept the schedule of three services per month. It has been a time of reflection for many of us.
It would be easy to be consumed with details and not look from the overall Perspective of the Church in a dynamic, evolving environment. The Church here continues to change radically in an effort to find its identity in Christ and to respond to His call to a diverse and rapidly changing environment.
One Challenge is that Neuchatel has continued to shrink in the size and number of companies employing foreign (English speaking) workers. The base of native English speakers has continued to decline and many of the English speaking families involved in NEC have gone on to other places. Therefore we have had to seek new and God- inspired ways to attract those seeking fellowship and to find new leadership, and as the Church has diminished in size, so too has the leadership and resource pool. It has also laid bare our diversity and our difficulty in understanding each other. While we have a dedicated core of those called to the ministry, we need to work harder at understanding our differences. A learned mentor once said to me that we need to “Focus on the essentials and love across the differences” in order to move forward in Christ’s love and harmony. All of these challenges mean that we must seek God’s leadership and creativity all the more!
Our greatest Opportunity is to utilize this time to seek God’s indwelling and enlightening presence in each one of us individually and together. It means allowing God into our lives more and more and trusting in His leadership in us to forge Christ-like identities and new relationships where old ones have caused friction and misunderstanding. It means employing that old Christian adage to “Live as if Christ came yesterday, arose today, and is coming back tomorrow.” We see around us an ever growing awareness that this world as we know it is rapidly changing and new and greater anxieties are growing which are creating a growing vacuum for Christ to fill. We are here to help “Close the Gap” between this need and Jesus Christ’s outstretched arms.
With this objective in mind the Spanner family has created Breakfast Church as a way to invite friends and families around us into a safe, unthreatening atmosphere, over breakfast and a video, to present and discuss how Christ can and does fill the Void. It helps outsiders to see that Church can be fun but at the same time bring Jesus into their lives.
In addition during our normal Sunday Services and Bible Studies we have endeavoured to focus on aspects of the Bible (continuing on previous studies such as Mark, Matthew, Ephesians, Philippians, Timothy, Peter and James) which among many other things help bring us individually to God and to his plan and purpose (Revelation) and to help us find ways to be freed from all that hinders by following and imitating Christ intimately, walking faithfully and boldly, empowered as did the early Christian apostles and Christians (Acts).
Finally we have seen how the Israelites came together to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah). How they were first engaged in a Vision and stepped out together to do their assigned part. By so doing they followed God’s will and became part of God’s plan of reconciliation and renewal. They learned how to pray, to study God’s Word together and how to be reconciled to God and each other through humility, contriteness of heart and forgiveness.
Going forward we will try to understand and participate in that one most important ingredient, Love (1 Cor 13:1-13) and our Christian concern and obligation to love and take care of God’s Creation (Genesis).
Prayer Request: Our request then is that you join with us in praying that we continue to find new God-inspired ways and means to help those in need find Jesus Christ as the answer in filling the growing vacuum in their lives and for us to grow together in Christ’s Love as one in our unique diversity in this effort.
NEUCHATEL CHURCH NEWS
Open-air service & barbecue at Boudevilliers
At our annual church picnic on 13th August we were glad to welcome back as our special guest Rev. Dianne Cox. Dianne was our priest for two years and is now back in York – and now officially retired, although she does the occasional locums in ICS chaplaincies in Europe during the summer. Dianne conducted the service on the theme of God’s “Magnificent” Creation and how We are part of his “New” one.
The weather was kind to us and we enjoyed our traditional bring-and-share picnic as well as grilled meats and sausages, superbly cooked on the BBQ by our now-expert chef, Peter.
And as usual, there was plenty of space for ball games for the children on the dog training ground while the rest of us relaxed and caught up on one another’s news as the summer holidays drew to a close.
Our special thanks go once again to Rosemarie for booking this popular site for us and organizing the day.
Ecumenical service for the canton of Neuchâtel
On Sunday August 20th a joint service for all Christian communities in the canton was held in Chézard at “La Rebatte” community hall to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Members of our congregation participated in the celebration, which was of course conducted in French. Both Rosemarie and Ken had attended preparatory meetings to organize the liturgy. The idea came from the Protestant communities of Grandchamp and Don Camillo for Christians of all traditions to acknowledge the errors we have committed in the past (and which we continue to do), and to look to the future together in our witness of God’s love in this canton.
The service was well attended – which Peter, Bernard and Hazel can attest to, being responsible for car parking! Representatives of the various communities took part and the atmosphere was one of attention and mutual respect.
Although I found the whole service meaningful, I was particularly impressed by the five pledges read aloud together by the assembly (in French) and interspersed with a chant and the lighting of a candle:
- To open ourselves to the richness of our different traditions and express our gratitude to God
- To create occasions to pray together by visiting each other in our respective places of worship or attending ecumenical prayer services which already exist in the canton
- As Christians we share the same faith in Jesus Christ. The testimony of the Bible, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, inspires our path towards visible unity of all Christians. We promise to take this testimony seriously and meet together to listen to the Word.
- We want to work for the welfare of the local community, collaborate closely in our activities organized by the parishes, particularly in favour of migrants.
- We pledge not to accept the consequences of our secular divisions. We want to share in the missions of our various churches and the specific gifts of each one. We pledge to support the leaders of our churches and communities in an attitude of dialogue, always trying to take others into consideration, with the aim of offering a credible testimony in this canton.
As you will probably agree these pledges will require some effort on the part of the different communities! Let’s hope they will be taken seriously and will not remain empty words.
After the service, refreshments were served and as you will see on the photos, our church was well represented among the serving staff!
SOME DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
Harvest Festival : 22nd October from 15.30. Afternoon tea with a glass of prosecco, followed by a service of thanksgiving and an auction of produce in aid of Beryl Baker. Beryl relies on our prayers, but also on our financial support. So please bring along friends and family.
Breakfast Church : 29th October 09.30 at the Spanners’ house in Vallamand-Dessus. Please contact a Council member for car-sharing and Nick or Louise to confirm numbers
Carol Service : 17th December 17.00. Traditional Carol Service in our beautifully decorated church followed by a fantastic bring and share Christmas tea. A collection will be taken during the service for Beryl Baker.
Christmas Eve : Sunday 24th December 16.00 – more details later
Our regular services at La Coudre church are as follows :
1st Sunday 10.00, 2nd Sunday 10.00, 4th Sunday 17.00
Fortnightly Bible study sessions at Ken & Milli’s flat, Peseux, every second Tuesday or Thursday morning from 9.30 am. All welcome. Please confirm with Ken if you’re intending to come.
Monthly prayer & fasting group: Our prayer group meets regularly and all are welcome. Times (usually 12.30 to 13.30) and dates will be announced regularly by email to those interested. One of the locations is La Lanterne, a small chapel in Neuchâtel’s old town used by the street chaplaincy.
Prayer changes things so even if you only have a few minutes, please drop in and join us. Please make any prayer requests known via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prayer requests will be dealt with in strictest confidence unless otherwise indicated, so if you would like the wider church body to be praying beside you or for you, please let us know.
Monthly ecumenical services (Taizé style) in La Chaux-de-Fonds: see flyer on a later page for dates.
Events in October-November
The exhibition on Martin Luther in the foyer of the Temple du Bas “Luther ouvre les portes à la modernité” can be seen until 5th November either when the church is already open for services or concerts or by appointment with Elisabeth Reichen, 032 913 02 25 or 078 703 48 41, email@example.com
This exhibition is in 6 parts and was designed by the Eglise protestante unie de France.
“Chante-t-on la Réforme? is a musical production on the heritage of 500 years of music in the Protestant church (hymns, psalms …) with 5 narrators, soloists and the mixed voice choir of the EREN. Collection (suggested amount: 30,-)
It can be seen at various venues in the canton on the following dates:
14th October 17.30 Parish of Val-de-Travers Temple de Môtiers
15th October 17.00 Parish of Joran Temple de Boudry
22nd October 10.00 Parish of Entre-2-Lacs Temple de St-Blaise
29th October 17.00 Parishes of Côte / BARC Temple de Peseux
19th November 17.00 Parish of La Chaux-de-Fonds Temple Farel
See also the website https://www.eren.ch › Actualité
A play called « Painting Luther » performed by the well-known Compagnie de La Marelle is on tour in Suisse romande and can be seen at the following locations in the canton :
Wed. 25th October 20.00 Peseux (Temple)
Sun. 12 November 17.00 St-Aubin (Salle de spectacles, Débarcadère)
PRAYER LETTER FROM BERYL BAKER
Casilla 1124, Asunción, Paraguay, Beryl Baker 9. 9. 17
Dear Praying Friends,
Ephesians 6.18: Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes. Plead with Him, reminding Him of your needs and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere.
This coming Sunday will mark a national day of prayer in the USA, something that hasn’t been done for a long time. Disaster upon disaster brings people to their knees, including myself.
The drought continues and 2017 is the hottest winter every recorded. Needless to say rain is the top of the prayer requests plus the spiritual outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that people will turn to the Lord.
This weekend the Anglican church and the Mennonite church are uniting for an evangelistic outreach in La Patria.
Last Monday I came to town with a very sick, 60-year-old Indian lady called Vence from La Patria who arrived at the ranch on Sunday. She is now admitted to the Regional Hospital at Villa Hayes responding to intensive therapy. Health Promoter Cirilo Benitez from El Estribo is also in the same hospital very, very poorly after arriving in a coma by ambulance.
Marializ who formerly had meningitis is now 6 months old and is hydrocephalic. She needs a shunt to drain the liquid from her brain and is at present at the Indian hospital at Limpio
After I spoke to the laboratory technician at Villa Hayes, he commented that TB is rife again not just amongst the Indians but amongst young people in the towns.
Serafin Villa Mayor is back in his community with his treatment. Florencio Martinez had to get a job in the Mennonite Colonies for lack of finances and so Narcisa Rojas is the only active Health Promoter at Estribo.
Since I wrote the last time, the terrorist group have kidnapped another two Mennonite men on separate occasions now making a total of 5 hostages.
Please pray for the local Christian school at Rio Verde which had to send all the children home after militant demonstrators made classes impossible and the safety of the students was threatened. It is now two weeks that the school has been shut.
Spiritual apathy has decreased the number of people attending the Rio Verde church and a wake up call to get priorities right is needed.
Please pray for David Orritt as he attends a meeting of SAMS Ireland on the 18th to plan the visit of three Irish Volunteers to Paraguay next year.
Love and prayers,
Letter sent out by Julie Fagan Tel: 07985 780 204 firstname.lastname@example.org
24 Folley Rd, Kibworth Beauchamp, LE8 0PF
GREEK SUPPERS ARE GREAT FUN, YET MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Remember our last two Greek Evenings? Organized by Jenny and Peter who lived and worked in Athens many years ago, these were occasions for our church to raise money for the projects of the Anglican Church in Athens in aid of refugees and the Hostel for Unaccompanied Minors run by the Orthodox Church. Earlier this year Jenny and Peter were in Athens and had hoped to visit the hostel and the chaplain of St Paul’s Anglican Church. Unfortunately he was away at the time but we recently received a letter with the following article for our magazine, which you can read below :
« In March 2016 national borders were closed across the Balkans and central Europe. This brought an end to the huge flow of families and individuals fleeing war, terror, destruction, persecution and economic instability in the Middle East, Afghanistan and the South Sahara by following the ‘West Balkan Route’. As a result, suddenly, 62,000 people were stranded in Greece with nothing in place to care for them. Till then the Government had been focused upon the economic crisis afflicting the indigenous population. It was not over concerned with the flow of displaced persons passing through the country. In short its attitude was, ‘Such persons have money, they do not want to stay in Greece, the traffickers are making provision for them, so why get involved?’
The Anglican Church in Athens was very early in responding to this flow of displaced persons. Through the receipt of donations it was able to sponsor a newly formed NGO called ‘Lighthouse’ which awaited the arrival of over-crowded dinghies from Turkey on the island of Lesvos. The members of this NGO went into the sea to meet the dinghies. It was often as they approached the rocky shore line that fatalities occurred especially among the women and children. This NGO also provided ‘primary care’ and directions as to where official help existed. At the height of the crisis thousands were arriving every twenty-four hours. Meanwhile the Chaplaincy was meeting up with displaced persons who had arrived in Athens and were negotiating with traffickers for the next part of their journey. Working with the Salvation Army it provided a translator so as to better hear the stories of displaced persons, learn of their needs and make provision in the way of food, clothing and medical support. At the same time financial support was afforded to assist with the running of a hostel for unaccompanied male minors established by the Orthodox Church in the suburbs of the city. Also a response was made to an appeal for medical supplies at the reception centre on the island of Samos.
The closure of the borders in March 2016 brought about a ‘re-think’ by all involved in this humanitarian crisis. Care had to be re-orientated towards the 62000 people now trapped in a country where they did not want to be. The Government was caught unprepared. Not even the most basic of facilities were in place. The Government was obliged to make immediate provision by establishing emergency camp sites throughout the country. Once shelter, regular meals and medical care were in place new needs emerged – the provision of child-friendly spaces, counselling for those who had been brutalized in their home country or on the journey, coping with the emotional responses (depression, aggression, relationship issues, grief) of a people who had risked all for grasping a better future that lay before them but now blocked by others. Previously these displaced persons had been proud masters and mistresses of their own lives deciding for themselves but now languishing in camps where all decisions, even the daily food they ate, were made by others.
The Chaplaincy with the help of a ‘Refugee facilitator’ provided by the Church of England Mission/Development organization, USPG (along with extra funding from this organization), adjusted to the new situation. So financial support was now directed towards providing a safe place and educational support for young children in a camp at Ritsona, financing a lawyer and a psychologist for a year to support minors in three hostels one of which is for females (they have, as can be imagined, their own set of bitter stories), the funding for six months of a hostel for male minors to cover a shortage of funding from the EU and further provisions of medical supplies for the reception centre on Samos facing over-crowding. In the meanwhile the Anglican congregation in Athens responded to a request from the same centre for tins of condensed milk to supplement children’s diets – seven thousand tins were collected.
Today the scene has changed yet again. The long process in respect to asylum and relocation to another country (or returned to a home country) is a slow process with no desire by the EU countries to speed it up. Some families especially the Afghans are now aware that they may be in Greece for the rest of their lives. The Greek Government has tried to return to these displaced persons some personal dignity. Rather than giving out handouts it now provides them with a monthly credit card by which they can buy their own food and other items of need. Furthermore, every effort is being made to relocate them in apartments. Added to this is the emergence of integration programmes – learning Greek and English along with Greek culture and European behavioral patterns. Children are being placed in State schools. Despite such efforts the fact still remains that people are languishing and their future is uncertain. There is not much encouragement in being integrated into a country that has its own vast unemployment problem.
At St Paul’s, Athens, among the displaced persons sharing in its worship is found two contrasting families. One is from Iran – the husband an accountant, the wife an architect. They fled Iran with baby in arms because of religious persecution – the husband is a Christian. It was their good fortune that they were housed in a camp on the edge of Athens that acts as the Government’s ‘show camp’ for foreign dignitaries. They have been there for over two years. They have no privacy in that another man shares the accommodation given to them. They have sought through UNHCR an apartment but to no avail. They wish to gain asylum and live permanently in Greece. Recently at 05.45hrs I was heading to the airport for a flight to Italy when I spied the mother with her child in a push chair heading to join the long queue of those standing outside the office dealing with asylum claims. I could not but wince slightly knowing that I had freedom to fly where I wanted to and she with her young child and husband were trapped waiting, waiting and waiting for decisions made by others, their freedom severely curtailed. The first three years of their son’s life is that of a displaced person. What hopes they may have for him are presently empty dreams.
The other family is from Pakistan. Husband and wife are both highly qualified surgeons. They have two children. Not only did they hold senior position in the hospital in Peshawar they also helped established a school for 200 girls. On three occasions the Taliban tried to murder the husband. He fled Pakistan and gained asylum to settle with his family in Greece. His family joined him after hiding in Pakistan for three years. Through donations sent to St Paul’s, the Chaplaincy has been able to cover the expenditure needed for the wife to undertake revision courses and to sit exams by which her medical qualifications have been ratified by the Royal College of Surgeons in the UK along with an offer of employment in a UK NHS hospital.
As a way of finishing may I, on behalf of the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens, thank you profusely for holding Greek evenings whereby monies have been raised to help those who have become the victims of what is amiss in today’s world. Without such help the Chaplaincy would have only seen and heard human suffering but not been able to respond. Your donations along with others have made a difference to people who are desperate. Thanks greatly and many blessings. »
Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw
Former Senior Chaplain, Athens
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
What’s in a name?
In the first of these articles we saw that Mary had been clearly told by the angel, that the name of the baby she was expecting, was to be JESUS [or Joshua – meaning The Lord saves] and that he would be great and was to be called Son of the Most High (Luke 1 31-32).
What did Jesus believe and understand about his name?
When we look at ourselves we realise that people call us by name, sometimes sadly by a less then happy one, but we do exist with our name as did Jesus.
Are you happy and content with your name? Why is our name so important to who we are?
In the Old Testament one of the saddest stories is that of Job, who reaches the very depths of despair as it all goes badly wrong around him and as he sits on the city rubbish heap he utters these words Why was I ever born? (Job 3 16), You will search for me but I shall be no more (Job 7 21).
Then from the uttermost place of hurt he cries out The memory of him perishes from the earth; he has NO Name in the land (Job 18 17).
People will walk by and have no knowledge that he ever existed, there will be no memory of him .What a tragic and sad state of affairs.
It would have been very sad if Job’s experience had ended there, but thank God that He loved and knew Job and was already restoring him to a special relationship.
In Job 42 7-8 the Lord speaks about Job being his servant (the Hebrew can mean friend) and so the Lord restores Job to a more wonderful place than he had at the beginning. And so, he died, old and full of years (Job 42 17).
Surely this speaks of a very contented and highly loved old man!
I am convinced that the Lord wants the same experience for us : he wants us to come to him and experience the same depth of love he had for Job.
Isaiah foresaw this relationship and realised that this was at the very heart of Yahweh’s plan for his people, so in Isaiah 43 1 he spells out the depth and scope of this promise.
“He created you, he who formed you, Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned (called) you by NAME, you are mine”.
I suggest that you take some time to read through and to contemplate the whole chapter, which contains so many wonderful promises about the relationship the Lord would have with us as his people.
We are indeed called by name and that redeemed name is precious to the very heart of the Lord.
I remember the very special days when my children, who were adopted, were chosen by my wife and myself. What a beautiful privilege to see them and say “Yes please we would love to have them as our children.”
Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus thinks about the same privilege, For He chose us in him before the creation of the world (Eph 1 4), not only did he choose us, he in love adopted us as his sons and daughters (Eph 1 5).
What an incredible picture of the love of our Father God. We have no remote pantheon of gods such as do the Hindus nor the remote and unknowable Allah of the Moslems. We have in and through Jesus Christ a loving and personal father!
Paul says again in Galatians, You are no longer a slave, but a son (or daughter) and since you are chosen, God has also made you an heir (Gal 4 7).
We are indeed the children of a Heavenly Father. Paul again emphasises this in Romans, The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit, that we are God’s children (Rom 8 16).
We can therefore rejoice that we are indeed chosen children of a Heavenly Father who does know our name for all of eternity.
In a loving family, children grow up surrounded by love; they are guided and cared for by their parents. So it is in our Christian life, from the moment we accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour that we are taken into the very heart of the Father.
The Bible speaks so clearly about this relationship:
- We are loved – Jesus himself tells us in John (15 9-11) that as the Father loved him so he loves us and commands us to stay within his love. I remember my kids climbing into my lap and snuggling down and just being loved and experiencing love. In the same way Jesus asks us to come deep into the presence of the Trinity and experience that eternal love.
- We are guided and provided for – In perhaps one of the most beautiful passages in the Old Testament, Hosea (Chapter 10) speaks about the Lord loving, calling, teaching Israel to walk, healing them and leading them with cords of love, lifting the yoke from their neck and bending down to feed them.
Isn’t that what loving parents do for their children? How much more will our Heavenly Father do this for us?
- We are cared for – Again in the Old Testament, there is a beautiful picture of this family relationship provided by Isaiah (66 12-13) As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you. The Lord promises to nurse and carry us on his arm. Wow, isn’t that such a special relationship? Paul gets right to the heart of this relationship when he says (Rom 8 37-39) neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.
Let us then come into the presence of our Heavenly Father, called by name, chosen, beloved and provided for and tell Him how much we love him.
Donna Adkins expresses this so clearly in her 1976 song:
Father, we love You,
We worship and adore You;
glorify Your name
in all the earth.
Glorify Your name
in all the earth.
Can you substitute I for We?
In the final article, I will explore the wonders we enjoy as children and the glorious inheritance that is ours in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ruth Whitehead is a young woman who is a member of Malmesbury Abbey congregation and is a very talented poet and writer. She produced this poem to fit the first article on which I based a sermon on at the Abbey a couple of weeks ago.
Who do I think you are? (Peter on Jesus)
Who do I think you are?
- A carpenter
- A very persuasive person
- A great story teller
- An enabler
Could you just be … a very skilful man?
Who do I think you are?
- A merciful law interpreter
- A person who helps the unclean.
Could you just be … a very compassionate man?
Who do I think you are?
- A person who challenges leaders and demons.
Could you just be … a man who speaks with great authority?
Who do I think you are?
- A water walker
- A storm calmer
- A miracle worker
- A prophet
Could you really be … THE SON OF GOD ?
© R.M. Whitehead 2017
MEET A MEMBER
Since our last AGM in April, we have a new member on our Church Council, in the person of Maggie Matthews. I thought it might be nice to feature Maggie, a fellow Scot, in this edition’s Meet A Member column so I invited her along for a chat. I’ve known Maggie off and on for many years but was surprised to discover a whole lot of things I didn’t know about her!
Maggie: My full name is Margaret Anne, I was born in Edinburgh in 1969 and went to school there. I’m married to Paul, have three children and live in St-Blaise.
I studied International Business and Languages (French and Spanish) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. I was a keen skier and joined the university ski team. We used to go skiing in Aviemore in the Cairngorms. In fact it was through skiing that I met Paul!
Ann: How did that come about?
Maggie: After I graduated, I got a seasonal job with a UK tour company as a ski resort manager in Flaine in the French Alps. It was there that I met Paul who was employed by another tour company! He had completed a three-year commission in the army but didn’t want to extend his career in the army further. We both moved to London after that and found jobs. Six months after we married, in 1996, Paul was approached by a company in Switzerland, specialising in recruitment and based in St-Blaise. We’d already thought about living abroad, so we decided to go for it with a view to staying permanently. He now runs his own company.
Ann: And how about you, Maggie? Did you manage to find work here easily?
Maggie: Yes, I got a job with Ebel, the watch company in la Chaux-de-Fonds, and worked in their marketing department for a few years. But as we wanted to have children, I decided to train as an English teacher to be more flexible with my working hours. So I did the CELTA diploma in London to give myself a recognized teaching qualification.
Ann: Where did you work?
Maggie: Initially in Neuchâtel for a language school, before setting up my own and working in companies in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It fitted in better with my new lifestyle.
Ann: And then your children came along!
Maggie: Yes, Victoria was born in 2000. James in 2002 and Cameron in 2004.
Ann: Are they doing the Swiss or the UK curriculum in school?
Maggie: Victoria’s doing her final year here at the Lycée Jean-Piaget and would like to go to university in the UK next year to study history and French.
James is now at boarding-school in Edinburgh because he loves rugby, which he already played in Neuchâtel – as Paul did! – and he’s able to play more at school in Scotland.
Cameron’s at secondary school here in Marin. Maybe he’ll want to follow his brother to Edinburgh – we’ll see later.
Ann: And you’re still teaching?
Maggie: Yes, I still have my own English language school in St-Blaise. I also do French-English translations for a variety of places including the town of Neuchâtel and the Bilingual Forum in Bienne.
Ann: And I suppose you and Paul still do a lot of skiing!
Maggie: Of course! We have a chalet in Wengen with our friends, the Rogersons, and during the ski season we go there practically every weekend.
Ann: That explains why we don’t see much of you at our church services in winter!
Maggie: That’s right! But we have an English church at Wengen too!
Ann: To get on to the subject of church, how did you make contact with our English church in Neuchâtel?
Maggie: Well, it was through a friend, Kate, who told me about a mother & toddlers group called Tiddlywinks, run by Rosemarie Zimmermann and Miriam Wolfrath. I started to take my children to it. We heard about the services at Les Charmettes, but 5 pm was a complicated time for us with the children and also because Paul often had to take a flight to Munich on Sunday evenings for his work. So we went to the local church in St-Blaise where I also taught in the Sunday school, and the children went there as well.
I was baptized and brought up in the Church of Scotland but I became an Episcopalian by personal decision. I enrolled for the Duke of Edinburgh Award and wanted to do Sunday school teaching as my project, but couldn’t do this in the Church of Scotland. However, St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh agreed and it was there that I was confirmed and Paul and I were married and had the children baptized. Paul was also brought up as an Episcopalian. Now we come to the English church here as we are all more at ease with services in our mother tongue!
We talked a little about the challenges we’re facing at the moment here in Neuchâtel, with the departure of so many of our younger members for professional or family reasons in the past two or three years and the (hopefully temporary) disappearance of the Junior Church. Maggie has no instant solutions to propose but is open to possible changes in buildings and forms of service to attract younger members, as our chaplain Clive Atkinson from Vevey mentioned recently to the Church Council. She can understand newcomers to Switzerland wanting to “enjoy God’s creation” as she puts it, by exploring the country in their free time and at weekends instead of attending church services regularly. She realizes too that it may be off-putting and overwhelming for younger visitors to find themselves in a small gathering of mainly older people who’ve been here for a long time! These are of course problems faced by many churches in Switzerland, Britain and elsewhere.
I’m confident that Maggie will have plenty to contribute to the Church Council, with her energy, ideas and talents, and hope that she will be amongst us for a good length of time!
ON A LIGHTER NOTE …
There’s no denying that the number of churchgoers around the world is dwindling, but that hasn’t occurred for want of trying to attract new members by churches and parishes. As we already know, the U.K. is home to some churches with a fantastic sense of humour, but Canada and U.S. churches are giving them a serious run for their money. Take a look at these …
2 More information available inside.Taking a dig at a certain someone…
3 Taking a dig at a certain someone…
4 There’s only so much praying one can do…
5 An objective look at the state of affairs.
6 This church even shows how to fast-track to heaven.