Church Newsletter

NEUCHÂTEL CHURCH MAGAZINE

October – December 2017

Message from Rev. Ken Kvistad from our ministry team

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.

Ken

 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:

  1. To open ourselves to the richness of our different traditions and express our gratitude to God
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:  admin@neuchatel-english-church.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, elisabeth.reichen@eren.ch

https://www.eren.ch/ref-500/agenda/expositions

This exhibition is in 6 parts and was designed by the Eglise protestante unie de France.

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“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

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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          bbakerparaguay@gmail.com

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,

Beryl

 

Letter sent out by Julie Fagan Tel: 07985 780 204   faganjulie@yahoo.co.uk24 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

August 2017

www.anglicanchurchathens.gr

 

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).

We asked the question : How much of that conversation and experience with the angel had Mary told the child as he grew up?

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).

Out of his pain he cries I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and deep shadow (Job 10 21-22).

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

Roy Farrar

                           

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!

Ann:   Can you start by introducing yourself?

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!

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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!

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If you wish to receive our quarterly newsletter regularly by email in PDF form, please contact Ann via this website, or any Council member. The layout is easier on the eye and there are more photos and other visuals.

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NEUCHÂTEL CHURCH MAGAZINE

July-August-September 2017

Message from Rev. Ken Kvistad from our ministry team

Having just past through the weeks and months in which we remembered the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer, we go forward living the resurrected life empowered by Christ and guided by the presence of God’s Holy Spirit!   In our last message we reflected on Romans Ch 8 verse 11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

Have we truly been living this resurrected life? Has our life in and out of Church been truly reflective of that which Christ died for and for which we have been raised up?   A new life, a life in which we are continually seeking his living guidance and his empowering love?

In our House Group we have been looking at the inspired word of James’ Epistle: Christ challenges us today as he did those first century Christians who he calls, “The twelve tribes scattered throughout the nations”… Ch 1: v 19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.

Why does it matter what we do? We all claim that we believe in Christ Jesus and that the resurrection took place! It matters because we too have been and will be resurrected bodily; It matters because it means that Christ continues to live with us today and eternally. It matters because our life eternal is at stake. And it matters because Christ continues to depend on his followers as he did in the two Millennia since his resurrection to fulfill his plan for bringing all creation back to that perfect, pristine state in which it was created. We need to listen to St Paul as well as James, to believe in Christ’s resurrection and be those disciples who “… look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.

As we enter the summer days of holidays and travel, may we be richly blessed in all we do as we continue seeking Christ alive in us and his empowering love to accomplish all Christ is calling us to accomplish! May our Church continue to accomplish its call to love each other and reach out in love around us. Amen!    

Revd Ken Kvistad


Neuchâtel Church News

La Nuit des Eglises (or a Night in a lot of Churches)

This is really just my Nuit des églises. Lots of other people had completely different nights because they spent time in different churches. Depending on your interests, there were opportunities for chanting and praying, dancing, listening to people bear witness to the work of God in their lives, looking at and making Bible-based art, reading the Bible, listening to music… and I’m sure I’ve missed things. The opening ‘ceremony’ was at Les Rochettes Swiss Evangelical Church on Saturday 20th May at 19.00 and the closing event was at La Maladière, hosted by the Swiss Reformed Church and Neuchâtel English Church and that started at 23.30. Throughout the warm summer evening, armed with a detailed “timetable”, people were free to wander between 7 different churches.

So, after helping to decorate La Maladière church with a large ” Taizé “crucifix, and lots of candles, hoping to create an atmosphere conducive to worship, prayer and meditation, we made flasks of tea and herb tea and prepared bottles of juice and water. We also set out big traditional Neuchâtel “tresses” (plaits) ready to welcome flagging participants.   I hurried up to Les Rochettes church in time to take part in the opening ceremony. Their pastor welcomed everyone gathered in the upper part of the church and and we all sang. It’s no wonder Les Rochettes has a reputation for their choral music! There was a big display of world famous “Religious” art, with copies displayed on easels, but also opportunities to get creative. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do more than glance at a few pictures – duty called!

I arrived back at La Maladière just as the first 30 minute session of worship was about to begin, so I hurriedly took my seat at the front, ready to do the Bible reading in English. I admit to some misgivings. Taking part in the “same” service five times between then and 23.30 seemed a long and possibly even boring undertaking. Of course, I was wrong! By the time I walked back into church for the third time, my heart was completely uplifted and I was only sorry that the last worship and prayer service would be starting at 23.30. I’d been stupid and arrogant enough to reckon without the presence of God. Having the privilege of spending an evening in prayer and worship couldn’t be anything other than wonderful. Words fail me. It was meaningful, precious, uplifting, invigorating, exciting … and none of these words describes my night in church.

Soon after 23.00 the events in the other churches drew to a close and about 30 people gathered for a final session at La Maladière.

I can only report that other people waxed lyrical about the simply told but moving stories of God at work that they listened to in the Basilique Notre-Dame, and one lady was eager to share her discovery and rediscovery of some moving paintings. So, if you missed the Nuit des Eglises this year, I hope you’ll be able to attend the next one, whenever it is.

 Hazel Moreau


Joint open-air service & barbecue at Chaumont

 We were told last June by the congregation of La Coudre French-speaking church that it would definitely be the last time we would be able to use their lovely old chalet Le Bon Larron up in Chaumont for our annual joint service, followed by a shared picnic and barbecue, as the chalet was to be sold. However, fortunately for us all, one year later on Sunday 18th June, we were all back again, joined this time by a heatwave, to worship together.

Our hymns were from the Taizé hymn book, with contributions by the Kucera family’s 2 children. The theme of the service was taken from the Gospel reading from Matthew 10, v 1-10 in which Jesus sends out his 12 newly commissioned disciples and prepares them for their first apostolic voyage. The message was presented interactively by seven members of both church communities to help us reflect if we are truly relying on Christ or on unnecessary objects of power or value. Objects presented were: back pack, walking shoes, purse, mobile phone with GPS, Swiss knife, chocolate and spare t-shirt. Each person described why the item might be thought necessary for the mission … then had second thoughts and removed it from the travel kit!

Christophe Allemann (La Coudre) and Ken Kvistad summarised what they thought to be the essential part of the text – two words: “simplicity” and “the essential”. The instructions to those discip
le leaving on mission were not to buy gold or silver, nor bring money, nor a second shirt, nor a second pair of shoes, nor a walking stick. These items encumber and give a false sense of security. Don’t be overburdened with superfluous things that could become obstacles to a true exchange between

one another and even more importantly between us and God. The service ended in Holy Communion, and was followed by fellowship and a shared meal. Peter Veenendaal treated us to an amusing quiz about numbers in the Bible. The winning pairs weren’t necessarily the pastors!

It will be difficult to replace Chaumont for our next year’s venue, but our canton is full of beauty spots and I’m sure we’ll find a suitable place!


 Co-hosting the cantonal ecumenical prayer services – known as the Taizé services

It’s over, done and dusted. If you missed all ten services in 2016/2017 then you’ll have to get on your bike and get yourself to La Chaux-de-Fonds in September.

Other than Roy’s unorthodox flight down the stone steps at La Maladière church as he was leaving one Sunday evening, resulting in a jaw broken in several places, and what could have been a cauliflower ear if the hospital in Berne hadn’t managed his injuries – so, well, it was a good 10 months. Roy assures us all that although he lost weight during the weeks that his mouth was all wired up, he doesn’t feel much the worse for wear now.

When we embarked on the preparation for the first service (we being Jenny and Rosemarie with the team from the Swiss Reformed parish) it seemed like quite a daunting undertaking. We are very thankful to Rev. Christophe Allemann and his team for doing so much work, leaving us to provide some muscle to set up the church each time, and also to do the catering. We shared the readings and both Roy and Ken “did” the benediction on occasion. We also owe an immense debt of gratitude to all the musicians who lead the service each month. A CD just wouldn’t be the same!

How much did we achieve? Well, we helped to provide an opportunity for Christians from all the established churches to worship and pray together once a month. As we watch people from other religions kill each other nightly on the news, we know that this is a real blessing. Have we helped the church leaders move closer together? Who knows, but we may have been a very tiny cog turning in the right direction. Have we increased attendance at our own church? No – but more people know that we exist! Was Christ with us?   Well, it certainly felt like it to me.

There will be an exceptional ecumenical service at Chézard St-Martin on 20th August. Rosemarie has been a member of the working party – so ask her for details.

Hazel Moreau

 


2017 AGM

Our AGM was held on Sunday 23rd April, chaired by our Chaplain, Clive Atkinson, with an assembly of 12 members present.

Regarding elections to the Church Council, Pat Smith is now sole treasurer as Bernard Moreau stepped down as joint treasurer but remains a Council member. Nick and Jordan Spanner decided not to seek re-appointment. Maggie Matthews offered to stand for election and was voted in by acclamation. As Christa McCartney has moved back to the Isle of Man, two places are still vacant. The remaining Council members are: Jenny Veenendaal (Churchwarden, Synod representative), Hazel Moreau (Secretary). Ex officio: Rosemarie Zimmermann (Safeguarding officer, music), Ann Morel Huber (Electoral roll, auditor, magazine, website).

Concerning church finances, the income for 2016 was similar to 2015. Ministry-related expenses are considerably lower as we no longer have the clergy flat and related bills, simply fees for the clergy involved in the 3 services per month. We will continue to donate 10% of our income to charities, mainly local. In our budget we aim to gradually replace the amount we used from our capital towards financing a House-for-Duty Priest.

Clive, in his Chaplain’s Report, offered his sincere thanks to everyone in the congregation for making him feel so welcome, and to all the Council members, as well as Rosemarie and Ann, for their energy and hard work. He is particularly grateful to Ken for keeping things going in his absence, preparing the services and housegroups, visiting and generally doing everything necessary. Clive is aware of the challenges of a small ministry and apologises for not being more available. He would like to encourage us all when “the net is empty,” reminding us of the text of that day’s reading and sermon about the miraculous catch of fish (John 21). Ken thanked Clive on behalf of us all for his quality time, his heartfelt encouragement and prayers.

Churchwarden’s Report, prepared by Jenny:

This past year has been a really difficult one for our Church. Our numbers have dropped considerably, mainly as a result of people moving away and this has meant a thinner spread of willing workers! On the positive side, we have been blessed by the leadership of Clive, Ken, Roy for the first part of the period and the services of Mark Pogson. We have been able to keep up our Bible studies and monthly prayer meetings. We have been thrilled to be able to participate in Nick’s initiative for regular (every month when there is a 5th Sunday) Breakfast Church sessions. This year we were also co-hosts with our Swiss Reformed friends at the monthly cantonal Taizé-style ecumenical services. Our Church has continued to support Beryl Baker in her missionary work in Paraguay and we were also able to hold a Greek evening in aid of the work being done by the Anglican and Orthodox Churches in Athens. We thank God for all that he has done for us and pray that he will help us to shine the light of Christ in Neuchatel.

In the Junior Church report, Hazel points out, with regret, that there are currently no meetings as there is only one child who comes regularly.

In the Any Other Business discussion, Nick explained that he and Jordan were stepping down from the Council as they preferred more informal church structures and evangelising through personal contact – meals, Nick’s professional website, the ICM fellowship for Jordan and Maddie. They were dissatisfied by the current situation in our Neuchâtel Church with declining membership. Most members present at the AGM were keen for Louise and Nick to continue organising Breakfast Church on 5th Sundays of the month, with inspiring videos to reflect on, and were grateful for all the energy they had put into them these past months. We are glad to report that this activity will continue!

In their absence, Jenny and Peter Veenendaal were also thanked for the splendid organization of the fundraising Greek evening, which was enjoyed by all present.

A full version of the Minutes will be sent to all our regular members before the 2018 AGM.

In encouraging us to think about new initiatives to attract new members and to be a community, not just a church, Clive used the term “fresh expressions”. As some of us here may be unfamiliar with this notion, myself for example, I looked it up on the internet and there’s a good website devoted to it that you can peruse at your leisure:

www.freshexpressions.org.uk


WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

There has been a TV programme in the United Kingdom which uses this statement as its title and although I have never seen it, it poses the question that we all have to face up to, some time in our lives.

Earlier this year, I was asked to speak to a class of 10 year olds about my life as an evacuee some 75 years ago! Their searching questions and comments caused me to think very deeply about myself and the life that I have led since those early days of the second world war. Who am I? Who am I really?

When we think about the early days of Jesus Christ as portrayed by the gospel writers, we can ask the same questions about Jesus. Who did he think he was as he emerged onto the local scene and what did the local people around him think about this young man?

Mary had been told by the angel, that the baby she was expecting, was to be called 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). How much of that had she told him?

Remember that the people of Jesus’ time used their human memories and had a very powerful engagement with oral literature and history [no Google or Bing was available!]. As Matthew carefully lays out in the beginning of his gospel, the ancestry of Jesus was very clear [Matthew 1 1-17], all the way back to the father of the Jews – Abraham.

The people were living as subjects of the oppressive Roman empire and were longing for the restoration of the original Kingdom centred in Jerusalem, that had been destroyed with the exile to Babylon in 586 BCE.

They were still expecting and looking forward to the day when the King would return and when they would become independent and free again. Into this ever-moving situation walks the young man Jesus. Again, what had Mary told him about the angel’s message, what did Jesus think, as a human being, about himself?

As Jesus walks down to the banks of the Jordan river to listen to John, the last of the Old Testament prophets, what did he expect? What did the crowds of people expect?

This was the 12-year-old who had debated with the Professors of Theology in the temple and had left them speechless and astonished with his knowledge. Who was this young man?

The answer comes directly from heaven in a voice which said so clearly you are My Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. (Luke 3 22). Did the crowd hear this? Did they see the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus?

What did Jesus think about this experience as a young man? Big questions and it is good for us to stop and try and put ourselves on that river bank and think about what we would have seen and experienced on that day.

On that special day did the fusion of Jesus the young man and Jesus as God take place? Just try and imagine what he must have felt at that moment; did he realise that he was fully human and fully divine? That his name was Jesus and that he was to be the Saviour of the world?

Here was no mere man, nor even a man with some divine qualities. Mary’s baby was one and the same in one and the same person, both Son of God and son of man – both fully divine and fully human; both God and man”

[Gospel and Kingdom – G Goldsworthy].

According to Luke, the first recorded words of Jesus were spoken soon after the Jordan baptism event, when he stands up on the Sabbath day in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth and makes the most outrageous claims about himself, by reading Isaiah 61 from the Torah scroll.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me.. he has sent me to proclaim freedom.. to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour(Luke 4 18-19).

No wonder everyone was looking at him (NIV- eyes fastened on him) and then he makes the greatest claim of all Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. (Luke 4 21).

What! Who was this man? Surely the carpenter son of Joseph and Mary but what did he mean by these statements? What was going to happen now?

The earliest followers of Jesus, found again and again that the God of their historical faith, Yahweh, God himself, had come among them in the person of Jesus.

Jesus himself made astonishing claims to fulfil Scriptures that spoke about God coming to save his people. His earliest followers addressed Jesus in worship and prayer, using language straight from passages of the Old Testament that had been written about Yahweh, and sometimes spoken by Yahweh”

[Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament – Christopher J H Wright].

The centrality of Jesus Christ claims is shown by the names that were ascribed to him, names which look back to the Old Testament and which are completely fulfilled in him:

a). Jesus is depicted as the true Adam (Luke 3 23 – 38).
As Adam was driven out into the ‘desert’ by his sin, so the second Adam conquers this place and regains the territory occupied by the enemy (Matthew 4 10).
b). Jesus is the seed of Abraham (Matthew 1 1ff).
c). Jesus is the true Israel (Matthew 2 15 and Matthew 4 1 – 11).
d). Jesus is the Son of David (2 Samuel 7 14 and Hebrew 1 5).

 

So, in the power of the Holy Spirit and with the voice of his loving Father ringing in his ears and with the commission of eternity Jesus sets out to fulfil his mission not only to the local region but thankfully to the whole world, so that now in the great and precious name of Jesus we can ALL be included in the Kingdom.

The promise for-seen by Isaiah (43) has become a true and a living reality

He created you, he who formed you, Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned (called) you by NAME, you are mine”.

We are called by name and called to bear this name and to share in the great plan of salvation, we are to be filled with the same Holy Spirit and empowered to continue with the same mission that Jesus both God and man started.

In the next article, I will explore more of what this means for us as children of God, bought, empowered and redeemed by the Lord Jesus.

Roy Farrar

June 2017


SOME DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Our next events

Fortnightly Bible study sessions at Ken & Milli’s flat, Peseux, every second Monday evening at 8 pm and on Thursday mornings 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 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:  admin@neuchatel-english-church.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.

Sunday 2nd July at 10.00: Service of the Word

Sunday 9th July at 10.00: Service of the Word

Sunday 23rd July at 17.00: Holy Communion

Sunday 30th July from 9.30: Breakfast Church

Sunday 6th August at 10.00: Service of the Word

Sunday 13th August from 11.30: Open-air service and barbecue at the Dog Club premises at Boudevilliers. Our former pastor, Dianne Cox, will be there too. Bring the family! Games will be organized for children and young people.

Sunday 27th August at 10.00: Holy Communion


Sunday AUGUST 20th at 4 pm

 An ecumenical service for the canton of Neuchâtel

at “La Rebatte” community hall, 2054 Chézard, Val-de-Ruz

followed by bring-and-share snacks

During the past year I‘ve attended numerous meetings at Grandchamp to represent our Church in the preparation of this service marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The idea came from the Protestant communities of Grandchamp and Don Camillo for Christians of all traditions to acknowledge the errors we have all committed in the past (and continue to commit) and to look to the future together in our witness of God’s love in this canton. So, if you think that’s a good idea, you need to be there !

This coincides with the « Fête de la Terre » week-end at Evologia, Cernier, the neighbouring village. This is a lovely event for families, so make a day of it up in the Val-de-Ruz !!!

I do hope I’ll see you there.

Rosemarie

PS   For further info on the places mentioned above.

www.grandchamp.org

www.doncamillo.ch

www.pro-evologia.ch


22nd October at 5 pm Harvest Festival followed by auction of produce in aid of Beryl Baker and her clinic in Paraguay


 MEET A MEMBER 

If you’re a regular worshipper at Neuchâtel, you can’t fail to have met Mieke Farrar. The chances are she’s the one who greeted you at the church door with a hymn book and a big smile! You may have detected a slight accent – yes, it’s Dutch, hence the first name! And what about her surname? Could she be … yes, right again, she’s married to Roy, our pastor and friend.

I was looking forward to interviewing Mieke. I wanted to know what had brought her to Switzerland and in particular, to Auvernier. I also knew she had been been brought up as a Roman Catholic so I was wondering how she had become a Protestant and did it have anything to do with Roy!

Ann:   Mieke, tell us a little about yourself!

Mieke: As you know, I came from a Roman Catholic background. I was the youngest of 15 children – 7 brothers and 7 sisters! Catholic families were expected to have lots of children in those days! We lived in a small village in Holland surrounded by water, so we did plenty of water sports – swimming, rowing and so on. My father was the Town Clerk of 2 adjacent villages. He was very keen for us all to get a good education and as there was no secondary school nearby, we were all sent to boarding schools. I went to a girls’ school near The Hague, run by nuns and could go home at weekends. My father made a point of writing us all letters while we were away from home!

Ann:   Did you enjoy being at boarding school?

Mieke:   I hated it! All the discipline and the punishments for not toeing the line … ! I cried with relief when the “bac” exams were over and I could leave school. In those days, it was the custom for girls to stay at home for a year to learn housekeeping, but I managed to enrol for more English lessons in Amsterdam and live with my sisters. Then I took courses in typing and shorthand in other languages (French & German). I loved shorthand. It became my own secret language!

Ann:   Didn’t you want to go to University?

Mieke: No! I didn’t want any more restrictions. I really wanted to leave home and work abroad. So after a year working for an English boss in my village, I found a job in Amsterdam, which I enjoyed, then I got the chance to go with a friend to work in Adelboden for a season in a hotel run by Dutch people for Dutch tourists. I was a barmaid! Then when I came back to Holland, one of my sisters had gone to Karachi in Pakistan with her husband who worked at the airport. I decided to borrow the money for my air fare and went to join them. I got a job working as a P/A for the KLM manager.

After that I applied for a job in Trinidad and Tobago working in the Dutch embassy. It was in Trinidad that I met my first husband, who was English and worked for Nestlé.

Ann:   Now I think I can see the Swiss connexion!

Mieke: Yes, and after a 3-year spell in Kobé, Japan, we moved to Vevey in 1967. By that time I was a mother and my 3rd son was born in Switzerland. I lived in Vevey (La Tour-de-Peilz) for nearly 30 years till 1996 when I married Roy and moved to England. I didn’t work outside home while the children were small but later I worked part-time for a Greek shipping company in La Tour-de-Peilz.

I then became a full-time pastoral assistant as well as churchwarden for All Saints’ Church Vevey. I really enjoyed this job and felt I was able to help people.

Ann:   Why did you join an English-speaking Protestant church?

Mieke: Although I’d been raised as a Roman Catholic, I wasn’t really a believer. It was when one of my brothers, who was a priest, organized a family reunion and we were all at church, that I realized God was speaking to me. I got to know the new Anglican pastor in Vevey, and his wife, and they gave me a booklet “How to become a Christian”, which answered many of my questions and I became a Christian.

Ann:   And you met Roy in Vevey?

Mieke: Yes, I’d been divorced from my first husband for 10 years and Roy was still recovering from the death of his first wife from cancer. He came to Vevey for a holiday and we were introduced by mutual friends. Strangely enough, I’d had an experience a short time before that when I was out for a walk and I heard a voice saying to me “You’ll be married before the end of next year.” I couldn’t understand what it meant – I didn’t know anyone I wanted to marry! And it turned out to be true. Once again, I believe it was a message from God!

Ann:   And it meant you leaving your beloved Switzerland!

Mieke: I didn’t want to leave, but Roy was still working. He was able to take early retirement 3 years later from his post of deputy vice-chancellor of Southampton University – and promptly applied for a course of theological training to become an Anglican priest! It meant us staying in students’ accommodation in Oxford for a year. We only had one chair in the room to begin with! I enjoyed my stay there and was able to attend various courses, for example counselling, as a listener. When Roy was ordained, he started looking for a post abroad. He knew of ICS (Inter-Continental Church Society) and was able to work in Lille before finding a place in Switzerland. He met Richard Pamplin, the Chaplain of St Ursula’s in Berne, who told him about our little church in Neuchâtel which was looking for a resident priest in order to grow, and that’s how we came here and got an apartment in Auvernier. The church was then meeting at the Chapel of Les Charmettes.

Ann:   Which we all regret having to leave!! It was ideal for us. So your travelling days are over?

Mieke: Well not quite. We still have a small flat near Bristol where we live a few months per year. My eldest son and his family live in Charmey in the canton of Fribourg, my second son is in Geneva and the youngest is in London. But I’m always glad to be back in Switzerland.

Ann:   And you’ve even applied to have Swiss citizenship!

Mieke: Yes, I’ve hung on to my Dutch passport for so long but I can’t have dual nationality. We’ve both got C permits but I’d like to think I could have permanent residency rights in Switzerland.

Ann:   We haven’t talked about the church here in Neuchâtel. How are you feeling about the dwindling numbers?

Mieke: We have to pray our hearts out for some new members, especially families! Maybe we should be thinking about moving to smaller premises – or even having a house church!

I didn’t ask Mieke much about her hobbies as I knew what they are – apart from walking and reading, she loves needlework and her big passion is patchwork. She often donates an exquisite quilt or decoration to be sold or auctioned for charity. Their apartment is full of items – cushions, wall hangings – that she has made.

Time just flew by during our conversation – and at one point it was as if Mieke was interviewing me! Such is her gift of empathy and interest in other people. Not a bad thing for a pastor’s wife! We’re so lucky to have her amongst us in our congregation.


ON A LIGHTER NOTE …

 The new minister stood at the church door greeting the members as they left Sunday morning service. Most of the people were very generous in telling the new minister how they liked the message, except for one man who said, “That was a very dull and boring sermon, pastor.”

In a few minutes the same man appeared again in the line and said, “I didn’t think you did any preparation for your message, pastor.”

Once again, the man appeared, this time muttering, “You really blew it. You didn’t have a thing to say, pastor.”

Finally the minister could stand it no longer. He went over to one of the deacons and inquired about the man.

“Oh, don’t let that guy bother you,” said the deacon. “He is a little slow. All he does is go around repeating whatever he hears other people saying.”

*****

A small boy told a Sunday school teacher: “When you die, God takes care of you like your parents did when you were alive — only God doesn’t yell at you all the time.”

****

Three ministers were sitting around a table. They decided to draw strength from each other by each one sharing his greatest fault.

The first minister confessed, “I have an addiction to gambling and sometimes I dip into the offering plate.”

The second minister said, “I admit that I have trouble with lustful thoughts.”

The third minister shook his head sadly, “I must tell you, I am a terrible gossip.”

*****

A minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. 

Therefore, he talked with the organist to see what kind of inspirational music she could play after the announcement about the finances to get the congregation in a giving mood.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll think of something.”

During the service, the minister paused and said, “Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected, and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up.”

Just at that moment, the organist started playing the National Anthem.

*****

A businessman happened to be staying in a hotel where a group of ministers was holding a conference. The next morning was very cold and as the businessman approached the dining room, he noticed the ministers gathered around a blazing log fire in the dining area. He was very cold and tried to get close to the fire but the ministers blocked the way. The businessman sat for a few minutes shivering in the cold. Suddenly he shouted, “Last night I dreamed I was in hell.”

“Really?” said one of the ministers. “What was it like?”

The businessman replied, “Not much different than right here. I couldn’t get near the fire for all the ministers in the way.”

*****

Every ten years, the monks in the monastery are allowed to break their vow of silence to speak two words. Ten years go by and it’s one monk’s first chance. He thinks for a second before saying, “Food bad.” Ten years later, he says, “Bed hard.” It’s the big day, a decade later. He gives the head monk a long stare and says, “I quit.” “I’m not surprised,” the head monk says. “You’ve been complaining ever since you got here.”

****

A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”

“I wouldn’t know what to say,” the little girl replied.

“Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the mother said.

The little girl bowed her head and said: “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?


 

NEUCHÂTEL CHURCH MAGAZINE

April-May-June 2017

Message from Rev. Ken Kvistad from our ministry team

We enter the weeks and months in which we remember the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer.  Paul in his letter to the Romans Ch 8 verse 11 reminds us:  11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” 

It is crucial then that we believe in his resurrection from death and that we bear the Spirit of Jesus in us and that Christ’s continuing life lives through us.  This is the essence of the Christian life.  The resurrection from death of Christ is the cornerstone of our understanding and our own resurrected life.  In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15:1-11   he reminds them what they originally believed and what the essential message of the Gospel (the Good News of Jesus) really is:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel  I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance,

  • that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
  • that he was buried,
  • that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
  • and that he appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep”.  

Paul is telling us that this message of first importance was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.  It happened just as foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures as God’s will and his plan of unconditional forgiveness to bring all humankind back to his open loving arms.

Why does it matter how we believe the resurrection took place?  It matters because we too will be resurrected bodily, It matters because it means that Christ continues to live with us today and eternally.  It matters because our life eternal is at stake.

And if we live this truth that Christ conquered death and if we believe it hour by hour, day by day, year by year, indeed all our living days

  • we too die to sin and are freed from separation from Christ , and  
  • we too are resurrected from death , and
  • we are reunited to God and arise alive in Christ.  

Christ is risen!  And what’s more, Hallelujah, we are risen with him.  Martin Luther said in effect that we are to act all of our living lives as if «Christ was crucified yesterday, rose from the dead today and is returning tomorrow! »  Let’s just believe it and live it!  AMEN

Ken Kvistad

 

Neuchâtel Church News 

Greek Evening

 

This was held on Saturday 25th March at the Old Catholic Church (St-Jean-Baptiste) in Neuchâtel in aid of the hostel in Athens, which looks after unaccompanied child refugees (see below). 45 guests and 6 Greek dancers were present and a delicious meal was served by the Veenendaals and the Moreaux, consisting of tapenades, tzaziki, humous, then Greek salad, roast lamb, Greek potatoes, spinach filo pie and for dessert baklava and grapes, with of course wine to wash it down!

Before the meal, guests enjoyed answering quiz questions on ancient and modern Greece.

Our treasurer Bernard Moreau is delighted to announce that we managed to raise almost CHF 2000, including proceeds from the sale of Louise’s beautiful home-made book bags, and there may still be some donations on the way!

Some reactions from the guests:

“Amazing food and great Greek dancers!”

“Lots of food, full bellies, joyful hearts, laughter!”

“Even the Greek dancers said that the food tasted more Greek than Greek!”

Thanks to you all for supporting this fundraiser, especially to the Greek dancers who came from Lausanne to be with us even though it was Greek Independence Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d also like to thank Louise, who had made some beautiful book bags and dog cushions to sell.  As members of Jenny’s book club were present, they naturally sold quite well!

 

 

 

NEWS OF THE HESTIA HOSTEL
FOR UNACCOMPANIED CHILD REFUGEES IN ATHENS [1],

which Neuchâtel Church has been supporting

Christian agencies have united and stepped in to support a hostel for unaccompanied child refugees in Athens, Greece after its funding was suspended due to a European Union restructuring.

The Hestia Boys Hostel in Athens, which is run by the humanitarian arm of the Greek Orthodox Church, has been taking care of unaccompanied child refugees from Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria with the support of the government since 2011. After the funding was cut, the Diocese in Europe’s Athens’ chaplaincy sought the help of the Anglican mission agency USPG and British ecumenical agency Christian Aid, the Anglican Communion News Service[2] reports.

USPG and Christian Aid have stepped in to provide emergency funding for the Hestia child refugee hostel for a year.

There are around 2,300 unaccompanied child refugees in Greece, based on official estimates. While 1,300 of them are staying in refugee shelters for children, the rest are living in refugee camps, detention centres or on the streets, according to USPG.

An example of less-than-ideal living conditions for refugees is the one in Greece, where stranded Syrians braved sub-zero temperatures while staying at camps that have no ideal protection against the winter weather. According to 34-year-old Rostam who lives at a camp near Athens, the weather is “very cold for children,” unlike in Syria, Reuters relays.

Greece’s migration policy minister, Ioannis Mouzalas, and the Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens visited the Hestia hostel recently. The minister hailed the home’s efforts in providing the basic needs, health care and psychological services to the unaccompanied minors.

Father Malcolm Bradshaw, the senior Anglican Chaplain in Athens, has called for an end to the holding of unaccompanied child refugees in detention centres. Vasileios Meichanetsidis of Apostoli also said these children are struggling to adjust to their situation, so they need activities that will enrich their lives and help lead them to their greater purpose.

[1] www.christiandaily.com, 2nd February 2017

[2] www.anglicannews.org/news/2017/01

 

The Baptism of Mickaël Christen

February 16th was a very special occasion for Neuchâtel Church as Mickaël Christen, son of Nirina and Cyril was welcomed into God’s family. His twin sisters Elodie & Gaëlle (in the photo below along with their cousins) had already been baptized by Rev. Dianne Cox a few years back, and since then we have had no more baptisms ! The Christen family have long-standing connexions with the Anglican church in Neuchâtel. Rev. Ken Kvistad from our church visited and instructed the family beforehand and performed the ceremony surrounded by family and friends and our regular congregation. Refreshments after the service were prepared and served by Louise & Nick Spanner. The family would like to thank all those who made them feel so welcome on that special day.

ADELE TAKES THE REINS IN SWITZERLAND

This Autumn, Canon Adele Kelham began her duties as Acting Archdeacon of Switzerland (in succession to Ven Peter Potter who retired during the Summer).

She was formally licensed by the Bishop and Diocesan Registrar for her duties during a meeting of the Bishop’s Senior staff in Brussels.

Her contact details are :-

Christ Church Office, Avenue Floreal 3, CH1006 Lausanne, Switzerland T: +41 21 312 65 63 Email: kelham@bluewin.ch (Office)

 

New Website

 Some of you may have had difficulty in accessing the church website over the past few weeks – and here’s the reason : the website address has been changed to www.neuchatel-english-church.org   and the old address is no longer valid !

Since our former webmistress, Christa McCartney, is now back in the Isle of Man and our website was housed on her personal website, we decided to build a new one. Ken has been behind the change and we’d like to thank him for all the time he has spent transferring data and photos. It’s by no means finished yet and if any readers in the Neuchâtel area with suitable technical skills feels called to help us in this task – adding new pages, uploading the magazine, adapting photos and other images to different formats – we’d be delighted to welcome you to the group.

We’re using WordPress, which some of you may know.

Sitting with Job 

A Christian Approach to Grief and Bereavement

Many of us in our Christian lives will experience times when we have to face up to major loss through bereavement, trauma or loss of job. How do we respond when our faith in a loving God is challenged in this way?

David Howell[3] says:

Suffering, including that of bereavement, can be redeemed as something which God can use as a pathway to life, peace and a deeper maturity in Christ. Even Christ was not exempt. He was made perfect [mature, complete] through suffering.

The days and months following a trauma can be very dark indeed, leaving little room for spiritual perception. It is only later, much later, that we can begin to grasp how God can use our suffering.”

Some 2500 years earlier, the writer of the book of Job faced up to the same question and through the experience of his central character sought to understand how we can come to terms with such dramatic trauma. Job lost everything, his family, his livestock and his position in society and yet he never abandoned his faith and trust in Yahweh.

The process of suffering and bereavement is very complex and its very nature poses major questions for us who have a faith in a just and fair God, certainly the one revealed as Father by the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, these events do happen and affect not only our emotions, but our physical bodies and our status in society.

Thinking through the experiences of Job and the various studies, that others, dealing with bereavement, have made, we can develop a theology that allows us to work through the “what will happen to us“

That it is all right to both question and to be angry with God

Job’s outburst in Chapter 16, where he vents his anger both on his friends and then on God are prime examples. Surely, we all need to learn that true anger is allowed, it is all right to scream at God about how we feel. It is part of the healing process, “this is how I feel and I want you to know about it.”

That we can plead with God

This is a major challenge to our usual approach to prayer, this is not a nice pleasant request, it is a dispute with God telling him that he is wrong and that things need to change, this is a painful telling him that he has got the whole thing wrong. As the writer to the Hebrews tells us, we can come with confidence to the throne of grace to seek mercy and find grace in our time of need (Heb 416).

That the question ‘Why Me’?’ is an eternal one

Job asks this question many times (“Why then did you bring me out of the womb?” 1018). Job wants to know why he has ended up in this state, what is the purpose of all this suffering? For many people this is the question that rapidly forms on their lips …”Why Why ME!

For Christians, this is a shocking question to ask because it seems to betray a lack of faith and trust. Maybe the answer lies in the simple but honest statement “We do not know why the innocent suffer.”

That God is in total control of ALL things

The overwhelming message that seems to shine out of this book, is one that God knows and that He is in absolute control. If this is not true, how on earth could Jesus Christ in all his humanity go so willingly to the cross? In the garden, he asks the same question, “Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 1430).

For our post-modern minds, this is perhaps the greatest challenge we face, we have to admit we are not in control. We cannot justify ourselves, we cannot determine our own salvation, and there is simply NOTHING BUT GOD!

If we have been bought with a price, which involved the death of Jesus, will God ever forsake us or allow us to experience things beyond His knowledge and control?

Surely the answer must be NO!

There in the dark is the light of resurrection

This is perhaps one of the most precious jewels that can be found in the pale gloom of suffering. Not only do we feel that God is in control, it is totally within his greater plan of resurrection and salvation. Paul tells us in Phil 310 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”

As Christians, we so easily rejoice in the triumph of the resurrection, that we tend to neglect that there was a painful, bloody and awful death upon a cross before resurrection came.

That at the end, there is a GIFT OF GRACE

If God is sovereign, if God is in control, if God has allowed all this to happen, then there will in his ‘time reference frame’ be a restoration.
Job Chapter 42 paints a wonderful picture of ‘Paradise Regained’.
It is obvious that the Lord not only restores Job to all that he had, He gave him even more. But it is simply an undeserved act of grace, and an underserved gift poured out by the Almighty on Job.

For me perhaps the greatest jewel I found through the experience of suffering is that Jesus was the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. His Gethsemane was a human experience, but it exceeded all others in its intensity and healing power.

What Job longed for blindly has actually happened. God himself joined us in the hell of loneliness and acquired a new completeness through what he suffered.
If we are to walk the way of the cross, then we must expect to experience some of its pain and rejection, some of that burden that was placed on Jesus Christ.

[3] “The Pain of Parting Understanding the Grief Journey”:  D Howell Grove Pastoral Booklet No 56 1993

Roy Farrar      Sermon preached at Neuchâtel English Church 12th March 2017

Quotations about Grief (contributed by Roy Farrar)

Lament, by Lucy from the Ivory Coast

Eternal, see what has happened to me!

My soul is beaten down inside me and I don’t know what to do.

I cry about our situation because I am in distress.

All that I build during the years is destroyed,

as simply as if someone turned over a glass of water on the ground.

Come to my rescue, Lord. Come and deliver us.

My throat is tight.

My heart bleeds, when I see our situation.

I am miserable and I suffer.

I don’t understand myself why in one wink I lost everything.

Look, Lord at the evil that is killing me!

How long will you leave me in this situation?

I still know, even if suffering make me let words come out of my heart,

I still know, that you are God, and you don’t change.

(Written following a deeply traumatic experience)

 

Quotation from an undated letter from Mother Teresa (~1948)

Lord, my God, who am I that you should forsake me? The child of your love – and now become as the most hated one – the one – you have thrown away as unwanted – unloved. I call, I cling, I want – and there is no one to answer – no one on whom I can cling – no, no one – alone. Where is my faith – even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness – my God – how painful is this unknown pain.

I have no faith – I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd my heart – and make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them – because of the blasphemy.

If there be God – please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven – there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. I am told God loves me – and yet the reality of darkness and coldness is so great that nothing touches my soul

Addressed to Jesus

 

 SOME DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Our next events:

Sunday 9th April 10.00: Holy Communion

 Sunday 16th April: Easter Sunday lunch at the Spanner house. All welcome! Please contact Louise or Nick at loupielouuk@yahoo.co.uk to say you’re coming. (No English church service at Neuchâtel)

Sunday 23rd April 17.00: Holy Communion, followed by AGM

 Sunday 30th April 9.30: Breakfast Church at La Coudre church

Sunday 7th May 10.00: Service of the Word

 Sunday 14th May 10.00 Service of the Word

 Sunday 21 May 18.00: Ecumenical “Taizé” service at La Maladière church

Sunday 28th May 17.00: Holy Communion

 Sunday 4th June 10.00: Service of the Word

 Sunday 11th June 10.00: Service of the Word

 Sunday 18th June: Joint outdoor service followed by a shared lunch with La Coudre French-speaking church. Exact time and place to be announced later.

18.00: Last ecumenical “Taizé” prayer service co-hosted by us at La Maladière church. In September this “pilgrimage” of prayer will move to La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Fortnightly Bible study sessions at Ken & Milli’s flat, Peseux, every second Monday evening at 8 pm and on Thursday mornings from 9.30 am.

Monthly prayer & fasting group: Our prayer group meets regularly and all are welcome. Times 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:  admin@neuchatel-english-church.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.

 

STEPHEN’S CHILDREN

Loving the Unloved

30, Pied Bull Court, Galen Place, London WC1A 2JR. Tel: 020 7831 6085E-Mail Address: wilfred.wong@btopenworld.com

The Spanner family support this charity which helps poor Christian children and their families in the slums of Egypt, many of whom exist by salvaging and recycling garbage. At the moment they are very concerned about the threat of the Islamic terrorists of ISIS who are seeking to persecute and destroy the last large Christian community left in the Middle East.

If you write an email to Wilfred Wong, you can receive their regular newsletter describing the work done by the Stephen’s Children workers and how to support them financially.

 

500th ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION   1517 – 2017

EFFECTS OF THE REFORMATION IN NEUCHATEL

The Edict of Nantes, promulgated by the French king Henry IV in 1598, had granted Protestants in France, called “Huguenots,” religious, political and military autonomy, and had appeased tensions latent since the Wars of Religion in Europe, particularly since the terrible massacre by Catholic mobs on St Bartholomew’s Eve, 23rd August 1572 in Paris and elsewhere. However, Louis XIV, his grandson, revoked it in 1685, driving an exodus of around 400,000 Protestants to Switzerland, Holland, Prussia, Great Britain, South Africa and the new French colonies in North America. This deprived France of many of its most skilled and industrious citizens such as weavers and engineers. Philippe Suchard, the famous chocolatier from Neuchâtel, was a descendant of a French Huguenot family. He also introduced and captained the first steamer, L’Industriel, on Lake Neuchâtel, and had the level of the lake lowered to control floods, thus revealing the Celtic settlement at La Tène!

In Switzerland, the arrival of Protestant refugees can be compared to the present situation in Europe. It is estimated that 250,000 passed through Neuchâtel on their way to various destinations. About 250 refugees remained, which is quite a small figure. The population gave them food and shelter. There are stories of the events, which will also be described in an exhibition in Neuchâtel this summer. (Elisabeth Reichen, Neuchâtel deacon and organiser of some of the commemorations, relates that the canton had between 25 and 28,000 inhabitants and the city 3,000.)

Neuchâtel had been a Protestant canton since 1530, after a close popular vote (a difference of 18 votes out of a total of 300). The domain of Valangin (the Val-de-Ruz, without Boudevilliers) and the Neuchâtel mountains followed in 1536. Catholics were driven out or else they converted to Protestantism.

Local theologian Denis Müller describes the influence of the reformer Farel:

“The impact of Guillaume Farel was felt long after his death in 1565 and was complex. In Neuchâtel, we’re not Lutherans but Presbyterians, as they say in the USA. The main credit of Guillaume Farel, a second-class reformer, is that he harangued Calvin into coming to Geneva from Strasbourg. He would never have come otherwise. In Neuchâtel, Farel carried out a rather brutal reform, of Calvinistic inspiration. The positive effect of this was the return to the Bible. The negative side was, in my opinion, the gradual introduction of a certain moralism – more than with Luther. … We suffered until the 20th century, in Neuchâtel, from moralism of Calvinistic inspiration. “

  1.  In the footsteps of the Huguenots in Neuchâtel Take a look at the special jubilee website of Neuchâtel Reformed Church (www.ref500.ch in French): under the heading Manifestations in particular the Agenda and Promenade:
  2. La promenade des deux Guillaumes outlines a walk through the city of Neuchâtel in the footsteps of St Guillaume and the reformer Guillaume Farel. The guided walk takes place onSaturday, 22 April, 24 June, 30th September 2017, from 10.30 – 12.00, starting in front of the Collégiale church.
  3.  La promenade sur les traces des Huguenots takes place on Saturday 8th April and 15th July at 10.30, starting at Faubourg de l’Hôpital 24.
  4. La promenade Marie Torel sur les traces des femmes du 16e siècle tells us about the life of Marie, a young French Protestant refugee who, at the age of 18, married the reformer Guillaume Farel, who was already 69, and bore him a son, Jean. This walk will take place on Saturday 20th May, 26th August & 28th August.
  5. Exhibitions at the Temple du Bas, Neuchâtel:  “1) Women of the Reformation” (till the end of April) 2) “Huguenots” from May to August 2017.   3) “Martin Luther” September – November.
  6. A play “Luther à Table” based on extracts of writings by Luther, (originally “Tischreden” in German) on 19th May at 19.00 at the Salle des Pasteurs, Rue de la Collégiale 3, Neuchâtel. This will be an opportunity to plunge into the era of the Reformation, to find out more about its message and to discover its leading figures and their courage.

(Sources: Wikipedia: Huguenots, St Bartholomew’s Day massacre, Edict of Nantes; www.eren.ch – Jubilé de la Réforme).

HOME & AWAY

 At the beginning of February, we were delighted to receive a message from Jenny Rogerson, now living in Jersey with her family, after her husband Grant was transferred to the St Helier office of his firm. Their son Alex is still living at home, whereas their two older children, Johnny and Tara are away studying. Here are some extracts from her letter:

 “We still think of you all often and it was lovely to catch up with the church news from Ann’s newsletter – please feel free to share this news with anyone from church who may be interested.  We do miss you all, and that warm and welcoming community that is the Neuchâtel church (and Louise’s food, of course!).

Alex and I have joined Grant attending his newly found church ‘home’, the Lighthouse church, which is a very different type of worship from what we are used to.  I can understand why Grant enjoys it as he has met some lovely people and the ‘sermons’ are often illuminating and very thought-provoking.  He has also been going to a regular house-group, so has a core group of valuable church ‘friends’.  There is a good-sized congregation, including quite a few young families so it is great to see that churchgoing is so active here.  I am not quite convinced that the ‘Evangelical’ type service is for me though (I really miss the hymns for one thing!) so we have also visited a few of the more traditional churches to try out some other services.  Each parish on Jersey seems to have its own active parish church (some of them are absolutely beautiful) so there are plenty of options.  We went to a lovely old church when my Dad was here just before Christmas (Grouville Church) and they were holding a nativity scene festival throughout the Christmas period, which was fascinating – all sorts of different scenes from all over the world, made from all sorts of different materials (there was even one made up of rubber ducks!).

Alex is enjoying the Lighthouse services too and there is a Friday night youth group, which he manages to attend regularly (even though at the beginning I kept forgetting that he needed to eat supper early so that he could get there in time for 7.30 pm (it’s quite far away) – we had a couple of very rushed cooking/eating sessions until I got into the habit of not having a nice relaxed Friday night supper!).  He has also made some new friends there, who don’t go to his school so that’s a nice extra dimension to his life here.  Talking of school, Alex LOVES it!  Of course, a lot of what he loves is the social life and, as you know, Alex makes friends easily so he had lots of friends almost from Day 1.  He is doing an AS level in Dance and A Levels in French, Theatre Studies and Business Studies.

…. Teenage social life is a bit different too (of course no beer or wine-drinking at 16) so if there is a get-together it will always be at somebody’s house.  Alex can’t wait for summer weather to arrive as our big balcony/terrace will be a great place for a get-together!  So far, we haven’t really been able to enjoy it all, although there have been some lovely sunny, wintry days, but more recently LOTS of rain and stormy weather.  We live very close to the beach so Roxy really enjoys her walks there and is full of beans as she scampers around playing with seaweed and chasing seagulls.  She’s nearly 10, but is almost like a puppy again!  (Sadly, that is also the case at home where she has spent weeks making lots of ‘mess’, to greet us with in the mornings.  Obviously, the whole move has been very unsettling for her. …. The last two weeks or so have been much better so I hope she is feeling like this is really home now and she can relax!).

Alex is also doing extra-curricular theatre and will take his first LAMDA exam soon … He was in the school Christmas production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. … He has also started playing football again and has joined a local club team for training and occasional matches.  Actually, it’s not very local as I discovered when I had to first drive him to training – it took nearly an hour, and the route took us down countless teeny wee country lanes, in the pitch black – horrible driving as we are still in our Swiss car so the steering wheel is on the ‘wrong’ side, and I kept feeling that I was practically driving in a field.  Can’t wait for Alex to start driving lessons in June!

Johnny and Tara are both fine although Johnny is less fine than Tara, mainly because his time as a language assistant at a lycée in Belfort (France) is not quite lively enough for him …. He came to Jersey for the first time just before Christmas, then came to Wengen with us for a few days, then to Neuchâtel to catch up with friends, and then back to Belfort.  He’ll probably be here for a time at Easter and in the summer and then back to Nottingham for his final year at uni.

Meanwhile Tara is adoring all aspects of her student life in Leeds and is throwing herself into everything: her course (History of Art), ballet classes, cheer-leading society (she is one of the ‘flyers’ which means she gets thrown up in the air!!), exercise classes, and social life in her Hall of Residence.  She has not done any singing for a few months … but she may audition for the Hall Musical which is coming up soon.  She’s also in charge of finding a second-year house for her group of friends and has just booked her summer holiday with her Neuchâtel friends, so as usual she is the super-organised one.

We actually need her to come and organise our house as we still have to finish settling in properly – it’s a new house, but there is no sensible Swiss planning here, so there are almost NO cupboards, wardrobes or ‘caves’!!  The garage is over-flowing and Johnny’s room now has a new ‘cardboard city’ wardrobe – designed by Grant from some of the packing boxes and at least it means the boxes have been opened and vaguely unpacked.  Elsewhere the new furniture which we ordered in October has still not arrived – island life can be very frustrating – so all our books are just piled up on the floors, and the three of us squish on to one sofa!  Oh well, it will be great once it is all ready.

I haven’t found a new job yet, but that is on the cards now as I do think it would be a good way to make new friends; so far, we have met some friends of friends, and other people through Grant’s work, but it’s not the same as OLD friends yet.  I have met a lovely girl who moved here recently from near Nyon, so we have lots in common and our dog walks are fun – her dog comes from Chaumont!  Grant still has to do lots of travel for his work so I don’t want to commit myself to anything really time-consuming just yet as poor Alex would be abandoned.  Hopefully something appropriate will turn up.

Well now I need to go and make up beds for our Chinese visitors – we are hosting two 13-year-olds who are coming over on a school exchange this week – I don’t think they speak much English so it will be interesting all round.  Alex hasn’t decided yet if he wants to go to China next year, but maybe this experience will help him make up his mind.

I send you all lots of love and hope you are all well,

Jenny

ON A LIGHTER NOTE …

 An Anglican priest was about to deliver Sunday’s sermon. Approaching the microphone on the pulpit he tapped it and said: “There’s something wrong with this mike.” Immediately came the response: “And also with you.”

Three Hymns

One Sunday a pastor told his congregation that the church needed some extra money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns. After the offering plates were passed, the pastor glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 bill in offering. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with his congregation and said he’d like to personally thank the person who placed the money in the plate. And there sat our Rosie all the way in the back and shyly raised her hand. The pastor asked her to come to the front. Slowly she made her way to the pastor. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and in thanksgiving asked her to pick out three hymns. Her eyes brightened as she looked over the congregation, pointed to the three most handsome men in the building and said, “I’ll take him and him and him!”

 The Dead Church

 A new Pastor in a small Oklahoma town spent the first four days making personal visits to each of the members, inviting them to come to his first services. The following Sunday the church was all but empty. Accordingly, the Pastor placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that, because the church was dead, it was everyone’s duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon, the notice said. Morbidly curious, a large crowd turned out for the “funeral.” In front of the pulpit, they saw a closed coffin, smothered in flowers. After the Pastor delivered the eulogy, he opened the coffin and invited his congregation to come forward and pay their final respects to their dead church. Filled with curiosity as to what would represent the corpse of a “dead church,” all the people eagerly lined up to look in the coffin. Each “mourner” peeped into the coffin then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look. In the coffin, tilted at the correct angle, was a large mirror.

 Church bells

 A minister was walking to church one Sunday morning when he passed one of his members working in his garden. “Can’t you hear those bells calling you to church?” asked the minister.

“Eh, what’s that?” said the member.

“Can’t you hear those bells calling you to church?”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to speak a little louder!” said the member.

“CAN’T YOU HEAR THOSE BELLS CALLING YOU TO CHURCH?!” shouted the minister.

“I’m sorry,” said the member, “I can’t hear you because of those darned BELLS!”

Church Gossip

 Mildred, the church gossip and self-appointed arbiter of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose in the other members’ private lives. Church members were unappreciative of her activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence. 
 She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup truck parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon. She commented to George and others that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing. George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny; he said nothing. 
Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house and left it there all night!

Former Newsletters


NEUCHÂTEL CHURCH MAGAZINE
  January-February-March 2017

 

Message from Rev. Ken Kvistad from our

ministry team

We praise the Lord for all His abundant love and outpouring provisions that He has been giving us here in Neuchâtel.  Despite numerous Church members leaving and going on in their lives away from Neuchatel and being pruned down to a regular, but loving group, He has been providing us with energy, wisdom and grace.  Under the inspired leadership of our Chaplain in Vevey, Clive Atkinson, we have been praying for new leadership and ministry support.  Recently Rev’d Mark Pogson has been preaching and serving Holy Communion.  We are praying that his ministry may prove to be a longer lasting fit with us here.  A new Breakfast Church ministry has evolved and is introducing us to new people and a way to reach those seeking an English-speaking family in Neuchatel.  We continue to pray for more workers to help in the Harvest of needy souls searching for their Home in Christ and provide support to this ministry of rebirth here in Neuchatel.  Please pray with us and join us if you feel called to His ministry.

Ken Kvistad

Neuchâtel Church News

 

Christmas Services

 

Our traditional Carol Service was held on 18th December in our beautifully decorated La Coudre church – many thanks to Louise Spanner and her team! Rev. Roy Farrar officiated and his address this year was on the ever topical theme of passports! Rev. Ken Kvistad led us in prayer. We sang eleven popular carols and meditated on nine lessons.

This year the organ was played by Walter Huber, with Rosemarie Zimmermann accompanying him on the keyboard for descants. Solo verses were sung by Kholofelo Kugler and Victoria Matthews.

Our collection raised CHF 532 for the work of Beryl Baker in her clinic in Paraguay among the Chaco Indians.

The Christmas buffet downstairs after the service was a chance for us all to relax and chat and we were able to buy gifts in aid of church funds.

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a short but lovely Christingle service, expertly led by the Spanner family, and well attended by families with young children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosemarie once again played a selection of carols and Jordan – with the help of the children present – explained the history and meaning of the Christingle oranges, before they were handed out to the congregation and lit.

We were happy to see some old friends who managed to be with us, including Abbie Therrien and her family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The workshop on Biblical Theology, organised by Roy Farrar at his home in Auvernier on Saturday 19th November was attended by about a dozen people, including a couple from the All Saints’ congregation in Vevey. It was divided into three sessions : God’s great plan for salvation (looking at the BIG picture), People and Covenants (looking at God’s faithfulness across history) and the Exodus/Redemption (looking in more detail at the great plan of salvation). Roy had prepared some interesting documents with timelines, diagrams and plenty of Biblical references and suggestions for further reading which we could peruse later at our leisure. The workshop ended after questions and feedback.

We also enjoyed the coffee breaks, when we could gaze at the beautiful views of the lake and mountains on that mild sunny November Saturday, and of  course at midday the simple but delicious meal of soup and fruit salad.

Thank you Roy and Mieke for your hospitality !

 

Breakfast Church

A « trial run » of Breakfast Church was organized on Sunday 25th November in the church hall by the Spanner family.  We enjoyed a delicious continental breakfast of croissants, bread, various jams and honey and tea or « good » coffee,  as Nick liked to call it (from an espresso machine), in a relaxed atmosphere. After this we watched a thought-provoking Christian video. The strong message conveyed was of belief and why we should share it. The theme of the next breakfast on 29th January at 9.30 will be « Celebration ». All friends and newcomers are welcome ! We hope this event will become a regular one on the 5th Sunday of a month.

 

 

A Letter from Beryl Baker in Paraguay

 

Asunciòn

13th January 2016

 

Dear Praying Friends,

JOHN 6,  37-38

Jesus said, « However, those the Father has given me will come to me and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. »

Tomorrow, 14th January, 60 people young and old will be baptised  near the Rio Verde church.  Please pray that they will all be determined to do God’s will with the rest of their lives as Jesus was.  Pray that the numerous people that raised their hands for counselling at the December Luis Palau crusade will go on to become mature Christians.

Praise the Lord for many answered prayers concerning the healing of Adriano, Lorenzo, and Ricardo, all living at the Indian colony La Patria.

Florencio Martinez is one of the new Health Promoters at Palo Santo, El Estribo.  Please pray for his continuing perseverance and sincere concern for the sick people in his community.

Maria  Luisa, a Paraguayan lady in her late 30’s,  has cancer of the colon.  She and her husband Elias are very poor people and have five children.  They attend the Rio Verde church.  Maria has been told she only has 3 months to live and she has to make a long journey to the cancer hospital quite frequently.  There is a box to donate money for the family at the till at the local supermarket.

Ana and Laura at the ranch continue with the Bible studies.  Ana needs prayer for her future as she needs to earn more money than she is earning at present in order to pay the school fees for her three daughters, Alicia, Denise and Jasmin who are boarders at the local Adventist school. She has an 18-month-old daughter, Diana, which makes full time employment for her difficult. Her partner Diego is a tractor driver at the ranch. Her divorce from her previous husband should come through in February and then she will be able to marry Diego. She is a victim of domestic violence from her previous marriage and the ex -husband is an alcoholic and unfaithful. He has 6 children by his new concubine.

Ana and Jorvy need much prayer as their first love for one another has waned and they both need to get back to the Bible study group and have the company of other Christians.

The heat has been unbearable so everyone needs great grace to get through all the necessary daily tasks.

 

On the UK scene I would ask for special prayers for Eileen and Len Hollingsworth for recovery from the injuries they received from a nasty car accident.  Len, especially is very ill.

 

An old school friend Carol Porter died just before Christmas.  Please pray for her husband Keith.  He is a faithful member of the local Anglican church at Longfield, Kent, as was Carol. Carol’s cremation will be at Gravesend this month.

 

Barbara Peattie in Canterbury continues to make good progress after her stroke. Praise the Lord.

 

May the Lord bless you all throughout this New Year.

 

Love,

 

Beryl

 

Some dates for your diary

Our next events

Sunday 29th January  9.30 La Coudre Church Hall – Breakfast Church

Sunday 5th February 10.00 – Service of the Word, Rev. Ken Kvistad

Sunday 12th February – place to be confirmed (La Coudre church not available): see website

Sunday 26th February 17.00 Holy Communion, Rev. Clive Atkinson

Sunday 5th March  10.00  Service of the Word, Rev. Ken Kvistad

Sunday 12th March  10.00  Holy Communion, Rev. Roy Farrar

Sunday 26th March  17.00  Holy Communion, Rev. Mark Pogson

Sunday 2nd April 10.00 

Sunday 9th April 10.00

Sunday 16th April   Easter Sunday – to be arranged

Sunday 23rd April  17.00

Sunday 30th April  10.00  Breakfast Church (to be confirmed)

NB:  During the cold weather, for heating purposes, our services will be held in La Coudre Church hall (downstairs using the main entrance) !

 

Fortnightly Bible study sessions at Ken & Milli’s flat, Peseux, every second Monday evening at 8 pm and on Tuesday mornings from 9.30 am.

 

Monthly prayer & fasting group: Thursday 2nd February, 12-13.30, at La Lanterne, Rue Fleury 5, Neuchâtel. Times and dates will be announced regularly by email to those interested. La Lanterne is a small chapel in Neuchâtel’s old town used by the street chaplaincy.

For all information about dates and times, please consult our website:

www.neuchatel-english-church.ch and to contact a priest or a member of the Church Council, please email admin@neuchatel-english-church.ch

 

Taizé-style services: Ecumenical services at the Maladière Church, Neuchâtel, followed by refreshments.  All the services start at 18.00 and the dates are as follows for 2017:

15 January, 19 February,        19 March, 23 April (not 3rd Sunday), 21 May, 18 June

Saturday 25th March  GREEK EVENING in aid of hostel for child refugees in Athens at Old Catholic Church Hall, Neuchâtel – details to follow on website.

 

 

 

 500th ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION 1517 – 2017

Martin Luther challenges the church[1]

On 31st October 1517, the protest of Martin Luther, Doctor of Theology, against the practice of indulgences was expressed in 95 Theses touching on questions of grace, repentance and forgiveness. He posted these on the All Saints church door in Wittenberg, Germany. He announced his intention to defend his statements orally in that place or by letter with those who could not be present.

Reaction from church leaders and scholars, at first on a small scale, gathered momentum with lives changed radically in German states and in many countries across Europe. Two years later, King Henry VIII of England started to write his Defence of the Seven Sacraments while he was reading Martin Luther’s attack on indulgences. Luther himself composed a reply to King Henry, answered in turn by Thomas More. Although Luther’s writings were banned in England, a small group started to meet in Cambridge to study them, along with other material emerging from the new movement on the Continent. Many of them would become key figures in the English Reformation.

500th anniversary

The 500th anniversary of Luther’s action provides a significant opportunity for churches to

  1. strengthen relationships with one another
  2. deepen reconciliation between us, for the sake of our witness to  the gospel
  3. promote reflection on what reformation means for us today

The Ecumenical Commemoration hosted jointly by Roman Catholics and Lutherans in Lund on 31 October 2016 and attended by Pope Francis and the President of the Lutheran World Federation has put the anniversary commemorations on the map internationally, and much more will be happening in 2017.

The Church of England, with its ecumenical partners, is involved in a number of ways, some of which are listed below. Further information can be found in many cases on the external websites that are mentioned. On Tuesday 17 January the Archbishops of Canterbury and York made a statement about the Reformation Anniversary. The Statement can be read on their websites at:

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5826/reformation-anniversary-statement-from-the-archbishops-of-canterbury-and-york

http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3579/statement-from-the-archbishops-of-canterbury-and-york

Reformation Roadmap

The Reformation Roadmap ‘storymobile’ will be visiting 68 European places with Reformation connections from November 2016 to May 2017. Three English cities are part of the itinerary: Liverpool on Tuesday 21 February, Cambridge on Thursday 23 February and London on Saturday 25 February. (Neuchâtel, Switzerland was already visited in November 2016). Information about this initiative as a whole can be found at: https://r2017.org/en/european-roadmap/, with more details about what is happening in England at http://www.reformation500.uk/events-overview.htm.

The General Synod will debate a motion about the Reformation Anniversary at its session in London in February.

The 36th German Protestant Kirchentag will take place from 24 to 28 May 2017 in Berlin and Wittenberg. Reflecting on international ecumenism, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, it will also look ahead to the next 500 years of Protestantism. The theme of the 2017 Kirchentag is “You see me” (Gen 16:13) and will include over 2500 single events.

The website of the British Kirchentag Committee at www.kirchentag.org.uk has articles about the evolution of the link between the Berlin Kirchentag and the Reformation Commemorations in Wittenberg. The main Kirchentag website is at https://www.kirchentag.de/english.html.

The finale of the celebrations on Tuesday 31 October 2017 will centre, in England, on   a

service at Westminster Abbey, with church leaders from many denominations in Britain and guests from other countries. This will be followed by a symposium on the theme “Liberated by Grace,” featuring theologians, historians, and a lively debate on contemporary resonances of the Reformation, in the adjoining St Margaret’s Church at 3pm.

The Council of Lutheran Churches in Great Britain is taking a leading role in sponsoring and planning this event, as well as other aspects of the Reformation Anniversary in this country. Their dedicated website is http://www.reformation500.uk/anniversary.htm.

Resources for the Reformation Anniversary prepared by the Lutheran World Federation along with other information about global commemoration can be found at: https://2017.lutheranworld.org/.

The Reformation in Neuchâtel[2]

 

The Reformers’ Wall in Geneva : statues of Guillaume Farel, Jean Calvin, Théodore de Bèze & John Knox    

 

The onset of the Reformation in Neuchâtel is closely linked with the Reformer Guillaume Farel (1489-1565), a disciple of the French Reformer Jean Calvin. He arrived in Neuchâtel in 1530 after a long journey as a religious fugitive from France with a letter of recommendation in his pocket from the city of Bern to gain Neuchâtel for the cause of the Reformation. That is not to say that this inspirational and fiery preacher convinced everyone who heard him. While he was restricted to preaching in the small Chapelle de l’Hôpital, one of his supporters consoled him with the fact that Jesus Christ himself was born in a humble manger. His sermons quickly attracted so many listeners that he persuaded the crowd to ascend the castle mound and take the Collegiate Church. His preaching stirred the people so profoundly that they destroyed its altars, statues, images and crosses. Only the tomb of the Earl of Neuchâtel survived the iconoclasm. Within a matter of days, the city council joined the Reformation movement, although the aristocratic upper class remained Catholic until 1707.

Many Protestant religious fugitives (Huguenots) from France settled in the vicinity of Neuchâtel and influenced the course of the Reformation in that region. Antoine Marcourt, the man who was probably behind the posters that caused the Affair of the Placards in France in 1534 – an incident in which anti-Catholic posters appeared overnight on 17th October in public places in Paris, Blois, Rouen, Tours and Orléans – was the first Protestant pastor to be appointed there.  Farel himself promoted the cause of the Reformation and summoned Calvin to his side in Geneva. Together with Pierre-Robert Olivétan, who worked as a tutor in Neuchâtel, Farel went to Piedmont to meet members of the Waldensians (a Christian movement founded by Peter Waldo in Lyon in the 12th century), who had requested a French translation of the Bible.  Olivétan conducted this work, and his was the first French version of the entire Bible to be printed by Pierre de Vingle in Neuchâtel in 1535. Further reprints quickly followed in Geneva and elsewhere of what to this day remains the most important French translation of the Bible. When Calvin and Farel were banished from Geneva in 1538, Marcourt was called there to replace them and Farel assumed his position in Neuchâtel. He worked to establish a church ordinance there like the one in Geneva. He also championed the cause of francophone supporters of the Reformation on his numerous journeys to Italy, France and Germany.

A statue on the esplanade in front of the Collegiate Church commemorates the work of Guillaume Farel. Many reminders of the history of the Reformation can be found in and around the Collégiale of Neuchâtel. The consequences of the iconoclasm are still visible to this day in the Collegiate Church itself, and the erstwhile lodgings of Farel and Marcourt both stand in the Rue de la Collégiale, along with the Collège du Haut, which the pair founded. The 1534 translation of the Bible and inflammatory placards from that same year can be viewed in the university library and the Bibliothèque des Pasteurs, which was founded in 1538. The illustrated Bible produced by Jean-Frédéric Ostervald, a subsequent pastor of Neuchâtel, is also on display.

Neuchâtel lent francophone Protestantism a new degree of cohesion as the vital nucleus of the network of Protestant exiles. These were the Huguenots, a group originally inspired by the writings of Jean Calvin, as distinct from Luther’s followers from north-eastern France.

Events in and around Neuchâtel

The coming of the mobile exhibition to Neuchâtel last November on its way through other European cities linked to the Reformation and which will end in Wittenberg, stimulated the association of Protestant churches in our canton (EREN) to organise its own commemorations, conferences and events. These can be found on the website www.eren.ch (in French, of course!). The parishes have also been asked to participate. Our English church will be taking part in an ecumenical celebration this summer, under the leadership of Sister Pierrette of the Grandchamp community. Rosemarie and Ken are our church’s representatives. The idea is that we should participate together in a celebration of the gifts that resulted from the Reformation, and also say we’re sorry both to God and to each other for the things that divide us.

We shall keep you informed about this celebration in Neuchâtel and the local press will also be running articles about the programme of activities. A further article about the effects of the Reformation in Europe and the influx of Huguenot refugees into Switzerland will be dealt with in another article in our magazine later this year.

 

A Call to Church Leaders for 2017 by  brother Aloïs of the Taizé community

 

On the road together![3]

 

In 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation offers an opportunity to advance towards unity and to go beyond mere cordiality.

There will always be differences between the Churches, as well as within each Church. These differences will remain subjects for frank dialogue; they can be an enrichment. But, in all the Churches, over time denominational identity has taken precedence: people define themselves as Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. Has not the time come to give precedence to the Christian identity shown in baptism?

A question follows from this: should not the Churches dare to come under the same roof without waiting to reach agreement on all the theological questions? Or at least to come under the same tent, going beyond a view of unity which is too static in order to create events and find ways, even if they are provisional, which already anticipate the joy of unity and cause visible signs of the Church of God, the Body of Christ, the Communion of the Holy Spirit, to appear.

Communion among all those who love Christ can only be established if it respects their diversity; but this communion can be credible only if it is visible. We need a new starting-point to head towards such a reconciled diversity. The starting-point is Christ, who is not divided. “It is only through Jesus Christ that we are brothers of one another…. Through Christ our mutual belonging is real, integral and for all time” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

In this way a sharing of gifts can be realized: sharing with others what we consider as a gift of God, but also welcoming the treasures that God has placed in them. “It is not only a matter of receiving information about the others in order to know them better, but to accept what the Spirit has sown in them as a gift for us as well” (Pope Francis).

How can we come under the same roof? How can we set out on the road together? A few suggestions:

  • With neighbours and families of different denominations, gather as “grass-roots communities,” praying together by listening to the Word of God, in silence and in praise, helping each other, getting to know one another better.
  • Every local community, every parish or congregation, should do with Christians of other denominations all that it is possible to do together—Bible study, social and pastoral work, catechesis—and do nothing without taking the others into account. Agencies that do the same work in parallel could be merged.
  • Undertake acts of solidarity together, pay attention together to the misery of others, to hidden distress, to the plight of migrants, to material poverty and all other forms of suffering, remembering also to care for the environment.
  • In the many cities where trust has already grown among the Churches, could not the cathedral or the main church become a common house of prayer for all the Christians of the area?
  • Move forward with theological dialogue while developing the dimension of common prayer and an awareness that we are already together. When we grow in mutual friendship and pray together, theological questions are seen in a different light.
  • Even if all Christians have received some share in a pastoral gift to watch over one another, the Church also needs ministers of unity at all levels. A ministry of communion on the universal level has traditionally been associated with the bishop of Rome. Is it not possible for the Churches to develop varied ways of associating themselves with this ministry? Could not the bishop of Rome be recognized by all as the servant who watches over the concord of his brothers and sisters in their great diversity?
  • Should not the Churches which emphasize that unity in faith and an agreement on ministry are necessary in order to receive communion together give equal weight to the harmony of mutual love? Could they not offer a broader Eucharistic hospitality to those who show their desire for unity and who believe in the real presence of Christ? The Eucharist is not only the culmination of unity; it is also the road that leads to it.

 

Our Christian identity is formed by journeying together and not separately. Will we have the courage to come under the same roof, so that the dynamism and the truth of the Gospel can be revealed?

 

 

 

Home and Away

We received a message from Susan Onsongso, now back home in the Philippines after her stay in Neuchâtel:

 

Dear All,

Sending from our family to yours the warmest Christmas greetings from warm Manila!

Susan

… and also from Seun Araromi to say he was on a flying visit to Neuchâtel and would meet us in the « Cerf » pub for a drink and chat on 12th January before returning to Boston !

As you can see, his visit was not in vain and a crowd from the English Church as well as some other friends dropped in to say hello and hear how he’s getting on in his new job.

 

 

On a lighter note …

 

Several children found a dead robin. Feeling that a proper burial should be performed, they secured a small box and some cotton batting, dug a hole in the back yard, and made ready to dispose of the deceased. The minister’s 5-year-old son was chosen to say the prayer. And so with great dignity, he intoned, “Glory be to the Father…and unto the Son…and into the hole he goes.”

 

An Anglican offered to paint the outside walls of the village church. Half way along the paint was running out and he filled up with paint thinner. Again the paint ran out and he did the same. Overnight there was a rainstorm. On Sunday morning the people complained he had done a crummy job. He was very upset and looked up to heaven. “What shall I do, they are all mad with me?” A voice came from heaven. “Repaint, and thin no more.”

 

  • How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?
  • One to change the bulb, one to mix the drinks, and one to talk about how much better the old bulb was.

(You can’t change that light bulb. My grandmother donated that light bulb!)

 

After dinner with friends a couple decided to take a short cut home across a wooded area. Their friends warned them,  “Watch out for the grizzly bears: they are very dangerous.  But if you meet up with an Anglican grizzly, you will be safe.”   Deep in the wood two huge grizzlies came towards them.  The bears knelt down and put their front paws together.  “They must be Anglicans, so we will be in no danger,” the couple thought.   Then they heard the grizzly pray, “For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful.”

 

CHURCH BULLETIN BLOOPERS

  • Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
  • The Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet on Thursday from 7 to 8:30. Please use the back door.
  • This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the church altar.
  • During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J. F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.churchofengland.org/about…other-churches/reformation-anniversary.asp…

[2] www.reformation-cities.org/cities/neuchatel/?lang=en

[3] www.taize.fr/en_article21331.html – 19 January 2017