Who are we?
The Chaplaincy of Aquitaine first came into being in 1825, when a church community was established in Bordeaux. In south-west France it seems that there have always been people seeking to worship God in the English language, and so for some 185 years we have been able, as the Psalmist puts it, to ‘sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land’. (Ps 137:14) Click here to read more about the history of the Chaplaincy.
We are a diverse bunch! It would be easy to focus on our differences in nationality, age, denominational backgrounds; life experiences; church traditions and convictions. Yet, we believe that there is one person who can unite us...and his name is Jesus Christ. As a result, what we share is far greater than what potentially could keep us apart. Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection stand at the centre of our life as faith communities in this part of France. As followers of Jesus we recognize that he is in us and we are in him.
Actually, we are on a 'shared journey: growing in Christ.' We are far from perfect, yet we strive to love, pray and live like Jesus. We are convinced that if we open ourselves to Jesus, by listening to his Word and the Holy Spirit (and act on that!!), we will bear much fruit (John 15). We hope that many will join us on that exciting journey...including you!
Committed to Christian Unity
We enjoy excellent relations with our French Roman Catholic hosts and have formed strong ecumenical links with several different Christian churches in the region. Each year French/English bilingual celebrations are held to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, (18-25 January) and these provide a focus for our commitment to true ecumenism, a shared journey in faith.
Our role is to minister to the spiritual needs of English-speaking people in the Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne and Gironde. As an Anglican Chaplaincy, part of the Diocese in Europe, we are home to Christians from all denominations. We also welcome those who are exploring questions of faith, or who are simply looking for companionship or support. All are welcome! Currently congregations comprising many different nationalities meet in a dozen or so worship centres in an area the size of Wales. Worship services in English are led by a growing team of clergy, lay readers and congregational worship leaders, and include Holy Communion, Morning Worship, Prayer and Praise, Family Services, Fresh Expressions, and Evensong.
Intercontinental Church Society
ICS: WHO ARE WE? We are an Anglican mission society who proclaim the Christ of the Scriptures to anyone who can speak or understand English, and we work mainly in countries where English is not the first language. Our churches are truly multi-national, and multi-denominational, with sometimes over 30 countries represented in the big cities like Paris, Brussels and The Hague. We work mainly in Europe, N. African rim, the Mediterranean and the Falkland Islands.
ICS: WHAT DO WE DO? We plant churches, put chaplains on summer campsites in France and Italy, and in two Swiss mountain churches, and we also recruit and nominate clergy to serve in these places, often in buildings owned by the Society. We also enable people to find English speaking churches abroad, not just Anglican churches, and via our website, www.ics-uk.org. This is an excellent resource for holidaymakers, business people travelling for their work, and students attending foreign universities. Many of our chaplaincies have strong links to the universities in the cities where they are placed, like Bordeaux in Aquitaine. ICS has been involved in this chaplaincy since 1873, and they have supported us through many a difficult period with prayer and finance.
ICS: WHAT IS MY ROLE? This is your mission agency; help ICS to reach more people both in France and beyond, so be sure to take a copy of the quarterly magazine for information and prayer. You could adopt a particular chaplaincy to support, be in contact via their website, and be part of what they are doing. For the price of a restaurant meal or two, become a member of the society, and make this sum part of your annual Christian giving pattern. Give and watch where it goes! It’s exciting!
Madge Olby Honorary Travelling Secretary for ICS.
Annual Theme: 2017 Hold Fast
2017 Theme: Hold Fast
“[God] called you through the gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:14-17)
2016 has been a memorable year! Many of those memories will, I am sure, be happy ones but over the last 12 months we have all also lived through some disturbing times. For some there has been particular sadness brought about by illness, bereavement and other personal trials. On a wider level there has been a level of political and social upheaval that is almost unprecedented in our lifetime. The migrant crisis, terrorist attacks, Brexit and the US elections have all played a part in creating a general sense of uncertainty and insecurity. Sadly, it looks as if there is huge potential for 2017 to be an equally unsettling year for many of us.
It is particularly good, therefore, to be writing these words at Christmas time with St John’s beautiful prologue ringing in my ears from our Carol Services, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5). We might be walking through dark times but it is important for us to remember that we have been given the words of life and light that cannot be quenched by that darkness.
On various occasions in the Old Testament, on their journey to the Promised Land, the children of Israel were encouraged to hold fast to God and to his law which was their hope – their assurance of future peace and well-being. Many years later, when Paul was writing to the new church in Thessalonica, we encounter another group of believers who appear to be living in unsettling times. Paul’s message, much as Moses before him, was that they had a sure support in every difficulty – in this case not the Law, by Christ’s Gospel. Their hope lay in holding fast to the gospel of love and peace.
So as we head into 2017, I can think of no better advice for the coming year than that of Moses and Paul. The world around us might seem like a somewhat dark, confusing and unsettling place at the moment, but we have the assurance that if we hold fast to the gospel, allow God’s love to work in and through us, then will we walk in that unquenchable light. And if we can do that, both individually and as a Christian community here in Aquitaine, then we might also be able to take some of that light into the lives of those around us allowing them to experience the much-needed hope and peace of God’s love.