Saturday, March 31, 2012

The American Church

Katie's days with us came to an end last Sunday!

It doesn't matter how old your children are, or how long they've been gone from home, it is still hard to say goodbye!

Jack walked with her back to the St. Michel metro station where she caught the train to the airport and back to Charlotte.

We left the apartment soon after Katie for our second Sunday at The American Church in Paris.  The church was chartered at the time of Napoleon I in 1814 and has met in several locations with the present church buildings completed in 1931 along the Quai d'Orsay.

The sanctuary is lovely with beautiful stained glass windows, a large powerful organ and a full congregation from around the world.

The bulletin describes a very busy programmatic church, including multiple graded choirs and a proficient bell choir, yoga, pilates and a bi-lingual Montessori kindergarten!  There is even a night-time receptionist!  One person said that about 2,000 people a week come through the church for its various services and programs.

This panel from the Passion of Christ stained glass window with bright sunlight behind it was used for the bulletin cover above.

The senior pastor's apartment is within the facility, seen here on the upper floor.  I'm not sure how many staff apartments are included in the building, but it makes for an easy commute to work in a busy city with a major parking shortage.

This notice, along with an announcement from the pulpit on Sunday caught our eye, and we decided to try the first lecture the following Tuesday.

Oh my, this fellow from Oxford was a fascinating and delightful speaker, and the audience responded during question time with very thoughtful and knowledgeable questions.  We returned faithfully to all three of the lectures.

Part of our delight in the Sunday morning services and the lecture series was meeting the people. On Sunday we greeted the people in the pew behind us and found they were from Portland, Oregon, and were members of Westminster Presbyterian Church and friends of Lynn and Marten Schreuder who were former members of our Missoula church!  They were also in Paris celebrating a birthday!

At the lecture series we enjoyed visiting with an American couple who have been sailing for 9 years, spending the last 6 months or so in Paris.  They crossed the Atlantic on their 40 ft. ketch, sailing at times for 7 to 8 days without seeing another boat.  They made land in Portugal, sailed on around the Mediterranean and into the mouth of the Rhone.  There they stored their masts and sailing equipment and motored up to Paris.  They are leaving Paris this week, headed through the Marne-Rhine Canal to the Rhine, and through the Main-Danube Canal to the Danube toward the Black Sea.  Their sailing equipment will be delivered to them in Romania where they will sail on to Istanbul through the Bosphorus.  They have loved their time in Paris and have particularly enjoyed the American Church and the friends they've made here.

We also met a lady, Barbara, who is originally from North Carolina; she attended first grade in Maggie Valley!  After completing her studies at Duke in economics, she came to Paris and began work with the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) remaining with the organization for 30 years and just recently retiring.  She married a Cypriot man at the American Church, but is now alone since his death over 10 years ago.  Barbara has a sister living in Provence who was two years ahead of me at Agnes Scott!  The American Church has been a significant part of Barbara"s life over all these years she has lived in Paris. Barbara was truly beautiful, her clothes and accessories stunning, looking for all the world like she had just stepped out of a "vetrine" in one of the elegant parts of Paris.  On the last night of the lecture series she offered to drive us back to our neighborhood rather than our taking the bus.  As she drove, she explained that she has had to get used to driving and parking without the diplomatic license plates she enjoyed for all the years she worked for the OECD.   We just might need to get some diplomatic plates when we get back to Missoula, particularly for the truck...

Other stories were similarly interesting.  The congregation is very friendly and welcoming.  We felt immediately at home there.  Perhaps because the turnover is so large, so many people coming and going all the time, there is a pressing need to get to know people quickly and get involved.  All of this has been very interesting to us.  We'll enjoy being with the congregation for Palm Sunday and Easter.

Here's Jack with the Senior Pastor, Scott Herr.  The guy with the coat and tie is the one who is still working! 

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