Editor: Alison Benney
In this issue
Peace is uncomfortable, by Rev. Dr. Paul Rock, Senior Pastor
Thurber conversations: Our Next Best Steps, featuring Rev. Grace Imathiu
Approaching au revoir, by Revs. Doug and Jodi Fondell, Interim Associate Pastors
Wedding stories, by Rev. Don Lee, Visiting Pastor
Sanctuary renovations update, by Daniel Grout
The African Fellowship: 20 years of celebrating family and God's grace by Henry Fortu, Chair
O Christmas tree, how green are thee? by Rose Marie Burke
Volunteers: The generosity connection, by Peter DeWit
Rafiki Foundation: Living fruit, by Patti Lafage
Women in the Bible, by TL Valluy
What's up in Paris, by Karen Albrecht
Peace is uncomfortable, by Rev. Dr. Paul Rock, Senior Pastor
I write this as I’m preparing my sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent. On this Sunday, to start our service, we will light the candle of Peace – and it’s gotten me thinking. In a time when drawing lines and overreacting have become the norm; in a political setting where the most contentious and offensive voices have become mainstream, what does this word mean for followers of Christ? And if we want it to be more than a Christmas sentiment, what are we to do after lighting a candle and saying a prayer?
Christians have been known as peacemakers from the start. Even the words we used for greeting others reflect this. Many of the letters in the New Testament start and end with “peace.” At the start of our 11h service at ACP, a pastor begins by saying “the grace and peace of our lord Jesus Christ be with you!” And the congregation responds “and also with you!” At both services we take the time to intentionally stand and greet those around us. Those who are young, old, extroverts, and introverts get up, move around, make eye contact, and extend a sign of peace.
Now, admittedly, for most of us, this time of extending peace to those around us can feel forced. It can feel like something we do because we’re told to and so we go along. And sometimes, if we’re honest, we neither feel at peace ourselves, nor do we feel like we have much peace to give. It can seem a bit performative.
But that’s kind of the point. Extending peace, building bridges of peace that connect us with others who are different than us takes work. It takes intention. Sometimes it takes just doing it even when you don’t at all feel like it. But we are followers of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace who, motivated by his overwhelming love for us, gave all he was to bring an end to the cycles of shame, blame, and violence in our lives and in our world. Jesus embodied peace. He worked at it. He took it on, he lived it and extended it freely and now it is ours to do the same. Even if it feels forced or fake. We extend peace, we work for peace, we perform peaceful acts until they become lived experience.
One of the strange traditions in many youth sports is that, after the game is over, the teams line up and shake hands. When I did it, we’d extend the handshake or high five by saying “good game.” Often you didn’t mean it, but you did it. You had to. And I’ve learned since that often we make things true by doing them, not just thinking about or hoping for them. Bridging gaps, making peace, is work and it’s uncomfortable, and if it’s not, we may not be doing it right.
Last week I accompanied a team of 15 or so folks, some from ACP, some not, as we gathered at a park, split up bags of donated food and pots of coffee and made our way down streets and under overpasses to simply greet and extend peace and food to Parisians living on the streets. It was not easy, it wasn’t warm, but it filled me and the other servers with peace. And I’d like to believe that peace was extended to our sisters and brothers living in tents or begging on corners.
Connecting like that, looking someone else in the eye, extending a gift or just a hand and saying something eternal is not usual for those of us who are often most obsessed with our own comfort and protection. So that’s why we practice it. We light candles, we stand up and look others in the eye, we listen, we serve, we connect. We shorten divisions, we extend Christ, we build connection, we extend peace.
So, this week, even if you’re sad or angry or don’t feel peace in the least, go ahead and perform it, watch the candle as it’s lit, listen to the words of scripture, stand up, fake it, look someone in the eye, tell them “good game,” remind them that they are loved. Be uncomfortable, be like Jesus and extend the peace and I promise, you will know peace as well.
Tuesday 18 January at 19h30
Featuring Rev. Grace Imathiu, a leading activist/pastor for Welcome and Inclusion
On 2 May 2021, ACP adopted an Affirmation of Welcome and Inclusion that we're now called to live into. The affirmation reads as follows:
We believe that we are called to love and welcome all people of all socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, races, nationalities, gender identities, and sexual orientations.
We believe that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ and seek to be his disciple may become members of our church.
We believe that all members of the ACP should have the same rights and responsibilities.
It's time to take our next best steps – to live out our affirmations! We're delighted to have Grace Imathiu joining us once again to guide us in the process. Though we're sincerely committed to loving all in word and in deed- to making Christ's extravagant love known to all who wish to experience it, it's not always easy to do so...yet it can be done!
Join us as we examine together what can be done to make Christ's love known to those who have been made to feel unwelcome and unloved in life, and even within the church.
Grace Imathiu is Senior Pastor of First UMC in Evanston, Il. She has also served churches in Kenya as a church planter; a superintendent minister overseeing 68 rural churches in Nkubu; and an urban minister to an ecumenical congregation in Nairobi with strong outreach to the neighboring slums of Kawangware. Pastor Grace is intimately familiar with the Church in its many theological expressions and social locations.
Grace loves people and has a passion and gift for inspiring and nurturing communities of faith to live out loud the prophetic story of Jesus. For Grace, the quintessential expression of the resurrected Lord’s presence is a community whose very DNA is a radical hospitality, which births a loving and a healthy tension that is ideological, theological, racial, ethnic, and cultural.
To register to attend this Thurber Conversation via Zoom go to our website at acparis.org/signups.
Approaching au revoir, by Revs. Doug and Jodi Fondell, Interim Associate Pastors
Dear ACP church family,
It was about two years ago that we made the decision to come and join the staff at ACP as your interim co-associate pastors. We landed in February 2020 and our contract was intended to be for two years. We knew this would be a season of transition at ACP and we were humbled that you felt we could provide a stable presence while the senior pastor transition took place.
Of course, what none of us knew was that a global pandemic would hit five weeks into our time with you, changing every other thing imaginable! Through it all we learned a lot and grew deeper in relationships with many of you, even if much of that unfolded on Zoom. In spite of the many challenges, ACP moved forward with the search for a new lead pastor and there was much rejoicing when Pastor Paul joined us at the end of last summer. When Pastor Elizabeth Murray arrived in October to begin her journey as the associate pastor for youth and young adults ministry, the major pieces of the big transitions for ACP were in place.
As the end of our two-year term began to come into view, discussions began about when the last of the pastoral transitions ACP would experience started to happen. In conversation with Pastor Paul and council members, we came to a unified decision that 31 March 2022 would be our final day at ACP.
The pandemic revealed many things to us and has changed us as a church. We affirm that it's a good time to re-evaluate the whole of our ministry, and looking at the way ACP is staffed is an important step in becoming the post-pandemic church that God longs for ACP to be. As we prepare to leave ACP in March, we will be doing some evaluating of this position, making some observations and recommendations that Pastor Paul, council, and leaders of the ministry areas that the associate pastor is most intimately connected to can consider, as together they envision how to best use an associate pastor in the future. Stepping back in order to move forward with confidence and understanding is a great gift that should be embraced and welcomed.
It's been our pleasure to serve you during this unprecedented time in history. It has not always been easy and in fact, many things have been quite challenging. But through your encouragement and love, and of course, the unlimited grace of God, we feel that it's been a good and fruitful season of ministry together.
Our immediate plan is to return to California and lean into retirement! Who knows what awaits us – but we are grateful to have a lovely home to return to and enjoy.
In the meantime, we look forward to enjoying our final months with you and we trust that the future is bright for ACP. Thank you for embracing us once again.
In Christ's love,
Jodi and Doug
“While the pastors are in charge of the heart and soul of the church, I coordinate the hands and the feet of the church; I keep operations going.” – Andrea Richard, outgoing ACP Business Administrator
When a machine or an event runs smoothly, you know there must be a lot of skillful – and mostly unseen – work that goes into it. So, as ACP’s Business Administrator Andrea Richard is retiring on 31 December, here’s a look at the behind-the-scenes responsibilities, efficient skills, and firm dedication that goes into keeping the ACP functioning.
“Andrea has been with us for 7 1/2 years as our trustworthy and hardworking Business Administrator,” said Avril Lee, Human Resources Committee. “She came in at a time when the church was really in need of someone to take on the work. Behind the scenes, Monday to Friday, she has professionally handled the rentals of the church, worked with the various committees on finance and building issues, and gracefully managed the staff of the church in coordination with all stakeholders, and all of this most of the time singlehandedly. As just one example, if you appreciate being able to "park" your kids on a Sunday at the nursery or toddler rooms, thank Andrea!”
Andrea’s list of responsibilities includes the management of rentals and space in the community center and sanctuary, and managing personnel and human resources, financial red tape, property work, and security issues. She’s the one who arranges for the security guards, and works with the local police to deal with the gilet jaunes demonstrations, VIP visits, and cleaning up graffiti.
She onboards new staff, weaving through French bureaucracy to obtain that precious visa, and then organizes the flights and hammers through tedium like arranging for health coverage, a work laptop and sim card, and a functional living space.
One of her roles is coordinating the use of the building, by staff, renters, volunteers, and the general public. Before the pandemic, over 100 organizations were using the building each week, which translates into welcoming roughly 14 groups a day, and managing 40-50 annual contracts and 10-20 short-term rentals.
One year, the violent gilets jaunes demonstrations closed down our Saturday night Christmas concerts. She and Fred Gramann put their heads together and after a lot of phone calls, time, and cooperation, miraculously succeeded in moving the concerts to the next day.
When asked if her toughest times were during the pandemic, she replied, “I don’t know if it was tougher than 2015, the period of the terrorist attacks. Covid is an invisible enemy we’re facing, whereas the terrorists had a face to them. During Covid, at least at the beginning, we were unarmed. There was no gel to be had, no masks – we weren’t meant to be wearing masks!”
She and the staff worked to compensate lost income during the shutdown by reducing overhead costs. She sorted out the paperwork to place staff on the government-backed program, “chômage partiel,” negotiated building cleaning costs, and also re-negotiated ACP’s natural gas and electricity contracts.
Andrea said that when she retires, for the short term, she’s looking at the three s’s: sleep, snooze and snore - and then sun, sand and sea. After which, she hopes to have some insights about her next steps. She remarked, “There’s indeed a season for everything. I think I fulfilled my obligations, my season at ACP, and I feel good about the team in place. When I say goodbye, I feel pretty confident that there won’t be a hiccup. It’s a great feeling.”
Avril said, “We will dearly miss Andrea; her faith and values are integral to the work of the church and she is much appreciated by all who come in contact with her. Now it's her turn to enjoy her new life change.”
Wedding stories, by Rev. Don Lee, Visiting Pastor
We recently received an email from Gail O’Brien Nitti of New York City with a special photo attached. Her parents, Frances Jesse Stafford and Charles Michael O'Brien, Jr., both in the United States Army, were married at the American Church in Paris on 22 August, 1945. The photo of their wedding day was a delight to see and Ms. O’Brien gave me permission to share the photo with you. Can you tell where in the church this photo was taken?
Seeing this photo made me think that there must be many others out there in ACP-land! No doubt with wonderful stories to match!
The O’Briens were married for 50 years before Charles passed away; Frances followed at the age of 97. They lived those years in Wisconsin raising Gail and her brother.
And now some NEWS for couples! If you are feeling romantic around Valentine’s Day this year, you might consider renewing your marriage vows at the church. We’ve set aside a special day for this: Saturday, 12 February, and marked it as a little fundraiser for the church. Could there be anything more romantic for Valentine’s Day than renewing your marriage vows? So, if you are inclined, save the date and watch for details as they emerge in the next month.
Sanctuary renovations update, by Daniel Grout
Good news: The renovations work is on schedule, and the lighting, temporary or definitive, should be delivered the first week of December to allow the electrician to set them up. Then the supplier will come to adjust them to fit our specific requirements as directed by Fred Gramann, especially for the 11 December Christmas concert. The permanent light fixtures will arrive in February, after the manufacturer has received the electronic components.
The scaffolding is scheduled to come down on 6th and 7th December, to allow time for decorating our sanctuary for Christmas.
A training session will take place in early December to teach staff and volunteers how to use the new equipment for light, sound, and streaming.
Please join me in praying for the work to be accomplished, well and on time.
#1 ACP is a wealthy church – truth or myth?
This is a myth. ACP doesn’t have a lot of savings. In times past we had only sufficient “rainy day funds” to cover three months’ expenses. As a result of the pandemic, there is even less today. ACP is dependent on your continued giving – so if you stop giving then we will be unable to continue operating at our current level.
#2 ACP is funded by the French government – truth or myth?
This is a myth. It would be great if the French government provided funds, but unlike many other churches in France, the ACP does not receive government support. In addition, the ACP is expected to pay property and other building-related taxes of approximately €50K per year, funded by the AFCU. However, we are a nonprofit organization and not subject to taxes on revenues, and thus in years in which income exceeds expenses, we can put such income back into our mission and ministries.
#3 ACP is funded by the AFCU – truth or myth?
This is part truth and part myth. The AFCU is the owner of the property, and it pays approximately €50K per year in property-related taxes, plus the compensation package of the Senior Pastor. In addition, the AFCU is a significant supporter of ACP as the AFCU members donate €40K-€60K toward the more than €1.2 of annual expenses at ACP. The AFCU members have also been very generous contributors to major capital projects such as the audio-visual ministry, the elevator installation, and other capital campaigns. However, there are many costs that must be covered by the local congregation.
#4 ACP’s funding requirements are large – truth or myth?
True. The sums needed to support the church are very large. This is because ACP, as the Beacon on the Seine, is making a strong positive impact on our diverse community, starting with our worship services every Sunday. We also help to feed the homeless, are introducing Christianity through Alpha, teach God’s word through Bible studies, small groups, and music, live God’s word through prison, and provide many other ministries through our amazing facilities.
#5 My small donation doesn’t matter – truth or myth?
Myth. Your giving is the foundation of what happens at ACP. Regular giving (no matter how small or large) is the lifeblood of every vibrant church. We ask you to pray and consider the amount you can give. For those online that consider us as your church, please pray about it as well.
For more on our Generosity Campaign, see: https://acparis.org/welcome-34717/generosity
The African Fellowship: 20 years of celebrating family and God's grace, by Henry Fortu, Chair
Some African immigrants from Protestant Christian backgrounds, who left behind their small home churches – churches full of warmth, joy, praise, and unity – came to Paris to take on the challenges of immigrant life in a very different foreign land.
It’s often a tough path, and, separated from their support systems back home, it can be isolating as well.
Some of those African immigrants found their way to the American Church in Paris. And although they could worship here and praise God and sing and pray as they did before back in Africa, the experience still didn’t feel quite like “home.”
In December 2001, the African Fellowship of the American Church in Paris was founded, to help these expatriated African Christians “constitute families away from home,” according to Emeka Ozoukwu, from Nigeria and the Fellowship’s first Chair. “It’s a place where we can come together and share our emotions, our sentiments, our nostalgia for our continent,” Emeka says. “And though it’s not always an easy task to come by, we strive to always live up to our creed: Unity, Love, and Fellowship – all of which are in the marrow of the bones of our churches in Africa.”
The Fellowship began with just a few founders, but today there are more than 100 registered members with at least 50 people at each meeting. Coming together every communion Sunday after the 11h service for a traditional meal and praise-and-worship session, the group has outgrown its original meeting place in the second floor library and now meets in the Thurber Room on the first Sunday of each month.
Now as the Fellowship comes to its 20th anniversary, it’s time to celebrate the group’s incredible growth despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, their growing involvement throughout the activities of the church, and above all the blessings that God has given them.
By coming together in faith as a people of a similar origin, the group can offer not only love and support but practical assistance as well, says Elizabeth Eposi, a former Chair. “Africans have many of the same problems as other immigrants, but those problems are not always handled the same way,” she said. “In the Fellowship we can discuss our personal problems and get guidance and leadership from each other and from other knowledgeable people in the church, and together we can pray that the Almighty will continue to guide us.”
As a founding member, Elizabeth has been able to watch the African Fellowship grow and evolve, becoming stronger as a group and more and more active in the church in many different areas – an issue that the leaders are going to “insist on” even more and more, she says. They’ve also started organizing events, like the recent African Fashion Show, which was held at the church and provided a window into the creative and cultural artistic apparel designs of their continent.
And for me, as acting Chair, what l have observed and also put in to practice, is that with our diversity you need to be patient with us. With the outbreak of the pandemic, it has not been easy with our members, everything seems to be at a standstill. But thank God Almighty for His sufficient grace and mercy upon us and the gradual returning to normalcy. No matter the challenges, we will always strive to achieve our goals: loving and caring for one another, and being a family away from home.
And that family away from home isn’t just limited to Africans: Our door is always open to all Christian brothers and sisters of the American Church in Paris. It’s a fellowship of faith and love, support and strength, family and friendship, solidarity and encouragement, warmth and comfort, familiarity and unity, and blessings and gratitude.
We are so thankful to God that we have made it to 20 years! And as long as God gives us the life and the strength to go on, we will. To God Almighty be all the glory.
O Christmas tree, how green are thee? by Rose Marie Burke
Decorated trees are central to the celebration of Christmas in many homes, but at what cost? Christians are called to be good stewards of the Earth, but we sometimes lose our bearing during the holiday bustle. I certainly have been guilty of that, picking up a forlorn tree outside of a deep discount store in the “daze” before 25 December!
The financial cost? About 30 euros on average here in France, where about 6 million trees are sold each year, about 1 in 5 households. Most French people buy natural, cut trees, from domestic farms, according to data from Kantar.
Farm-raised trees don’t contribute to deforestation. That’s because they are cultivated on the same fields year after year, just like any crop. As they grow, for 7 to 10 years on average, the real trees take up carbon dioxide ‒ doing us a favor since too much of this greenhouse gas is contributing to climate change.
However, trees farms are mostly monocultures that depend on pesticides, even if growers have reduced their use by five times in the past decade. One of the pesticides used, diazinon, is toxic for birds, fish, and humans, according to notre-planete.info. What’s more, rain washes the chemical into the ground and water table.
What to do? Look for official labels such as AB (agriculture biologique, meaning organically grown) and Label Rouge, environmental certifications Plante bleue or MPS (Milieu Programma Sierteelt), and geographical tags such as Légende du Morvan, Morvan, Nature et Talents, and Savoie Mont Blanc Excellence.
And, after those 12 days of Christmas, recycle your cut tree. Throwing trees into a landfill or sending them to the local incinerator is polluting. Many cities and towns in France set up recycling areas just for Christmas trees. These are mulched and, because of their acid content, are spread in green spaces to act as a natural herbicide ‒ such as on footpaths, according to the City of Paris.
Better yet, rent or grow an evergreen. The online France-based vendor Treezmas will deliver and pick up your evergreen after the holidays! Many local florists sell evergreens in a pot with their root balls intact. ‘’By far the best option is a potted tree which, with care, can be replanted after the festive season and reused year after year,’’ according to the Carbon Trust, since they are transported only once.
There’s the inevitable debate about what’s better for the environment: natural or artificial? Plastic trees can be a greener choice than real trees if kept for more than 10 years, are made of recyclable materials, and are eventually recycled properly. That’s a lot of if’s!
In another embarrassing Christmas tree episode, my husband and I inherited a plastic tree in the US (good, in the spirit of reusing) that we shipped to France (double bad, in financial and environmental cost). We fully intended to use it for the rest of our lives. However, after just a few years, we moved to a new home with little storage, and tossed out our ‘’tree to end all trees.’’
Volunteers: The generosity connection, by Peter DeWit
Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others’ faults. Be like running water for generosity. – Rumi, Persian poet and Sufi master
Generosity connects us to people. I have witnessed the refreshing flow from our community providing encouragement, warmth, sustenance, and connection to so many both far and near. If you’re looking for your own generosity connection, ACP offers lots of opportunities to serve and to give.
Time and space don’t allow me to share in detail about our support overseas. In Ghana our giving focuses on prison ministry. In Uganda we have worked with an orphanage and a school and are supporting teacher training and community development projects. In India we bring aid to orphans and destitute children who live in the slums there, while also contributing to programs that empower women.
Closer to home there are some great ministries here in Paris that you can join. Serve the City Paris began out of this very congregation and has grown tremendously in people involvement and impact in our city, particularly for the homeless and refugee community. Add to that a weekly sandwich-making operation which takes place weekly at the church, that feeds over 100 hungry people each and every week on our streets of Paris.
We also have a refugee ministry called Welcome Dinners that we hope our ACP members can get involved in. All it takes is a table, some home-cooked food and a little bit of love. We would love it if you would open your doors and tables for one Welcome Dinner in 2022.
The Friday Mission (sit down hot) Lunch for about 65 guests is about to kick off again in January 2022 at the American Cathedral. We are not only sponsoring it with our finances, but volunteers are needed each and every week to make this ministry a success.
We cannot forget the 100 Nights of Welcome ministry. For three years now we have been housing homeless men from all sorts of places, two years in our own gym; and last year 14 men were sponsored and fed at the generator hostel. This could not have become a reality without the Tostado family spearheading this. We aim to do it again starting in January and need volunteers to chaperone in the evenings.
All of these ministries speak of generosity. Our generosity didn’t dry up with the pandemic. From this community of Jesus followers, together we are giving life and hope to hundreds each week in Paris and all around the world. Together we are making a difference.
There will be challenges as we restructure and reimagine the way our outreach endeavors are accomplished in a post-pandemic world. We do strive for better communication on our part with the hopes of greater involvement on the part of us all. Thank you for committing to generously support the flow of kindness, blessing and connections in 2022. Together we can build an even better post-pandemic church that continues to bless, connect, and impact people with God’s generous love around the world and especially to those at our own doorsteps.
Rafiki Foundation: Living fruit, by Patti Lafage
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6.
Dear ACP Friends,
This proverb has guided Rafiki’s ministries in Africa since 2002. The training of children, adolescents, and adults is going on continually and is bearing fruit.
As you may recall, God called me to fulltime missionary service with Rafiki in 2011. I served with joy for eight and a half years, doing at various times almost every job at Rafiki Village Uganda. In June 2020, in the midst of the first Covid lockdown, a diagnosis of lung cancer brought me back to Paris for medical treatment. Now it’s time for me to retire from this deeply rewarding work.
I had been longing to return to Uganda, and God finally allowed me to make the trip last month. I’m thrilled to report to you the magnificent fruit of the love and support that you as ACP member donors, the missionary team, the national staff, and outside friends have poured into the lives of the Rafiki Uganda resident orphans and the community school children.
Schools are still closed in Uganda, so our teachers run a kind of home-school program within the Village and outside in homes of the day students. On my first afternoon at the Village, the residents (69 teenagers - imagine!) performed the previous week’s work on poetry and art as part of the ongoing “competitions” covering academic subjects and extra-curricular activities. With minimal help from adults, four teams of about 16 residents each, of mixed ages from 11 to 20, presented their poems and art pieces. A jury of teachers awarded points which were then cumulated with previous scores in a Bible quiz, math contests, spelling bee, current affairs quiz, and others.
The last two weeks were dedicated to original drama skits and arrangements of Christmas songs. Truly, the sheer talent and obvious teamwork exhibited brought exclamations of awe and praise to God from all present. The winning team’s prize – a pig! - was cooked, served, and shared by all during a banquet feast.
The following weeks brought more fruit: Joys and evidence of God’s care for his Village, even in the midst of this prolonged period of closed schools and interrupted routines. Village Administrator Kelly Fore assigned me a light schedule of teaching all the things I love the most: Sixth grade language arts, music, art, and Bible study, so I had a structured working day and also plenty of informal time with “kids” and staff. I loved attending teacher/dad Chriz’s breakfast time devotions, opened each day by one of the youth. Most days I joined various residents’ tables for lunch, then later attended choir practice in the evening. Perfect schedule for me this time – nothing at all like the overflowing work days that we as missionaries normally handle.
In eight and a half years in Uganda, I made some wonderful friends from outside the Village. How to see those dear ones during such a short visit? A party at the nearby recreation center for some of the Rafiki grads, and an open house brought a former teacher and his family, a retired caregiver, a former day-student now an electrical engineer, Victoria “the weaver,” a pastor friend now guardian of one our grown-up boys…all dear friends that came for a visit. I felt immeasurably loved and blessed.
What stands out from these three weeks? Evidence of God’s loving hand everywhere: Happy, active, engaged teens who have grown physically, mentally, and spiritually in the 18 months since I last saw them. Dedicated, hardworking, and happy teachers, caregivers, service staff. A host of “Friends of Rafiki” who actively support God’s work for his village. Village Administrator Kelly Fore, in her 10th year of service with Rafiki, orchestrating all with love and skill. And, especially, new Career Missionaries David and Michelle Graves, fully on board already and looking forward to years of service.
Though I never doubted that God would provide for all Rafiki’s needs and programs, seeing the fruit made it easier for me to say good-bye. My cancer treatment is going well, and I’m enjoying church and community service volunteer activities in my neighborhood in Paris. Friends, family, and excellent medical care here, as well as the many prayers lifted up for me; I’m truly grateful to God for his care.
Women in the Bible, by TL Valluy
Book series and a monthly study: Women of the New Testament
105. That's how many women are discussed in my new book series, Women of the New Testament. Like my series on women of the Old Testament, which covers 110 females, this three-part series looks at women of the New Testament, asking the questions, why are they in the Bible? What does God have for me to learn?
Reading the Bible and praying a lot, I delved into these women's stories and applied their lessons to my life. The women are divided into 12 different categories, such as “Serving,” “Opportunities and Actions,” and “Family.” Each woman is discussed, followed by a short study section for further thought.
One of the most interesting sections to write was “Imagined, Assumed, and Unnamed Females,” in which I cover women like the Bride at Cana and Eutychus' Mom. Eutychus was the guy who, while listening to Paul, fell out of a window and died. Through the power of Jesus, Paul restored Eutychus' life, and later, some friends took him back home to his mom (Acts 20:7-12). Can you imagine that conversation?
Mom: You're home late!
Eutychus: Oh, I died, but then Paul brought me back to life through Jesus' power.
Or think about the Bride at Cana. The servants knew that they had served water to the master of the banquet, and they heard him exclaim to all that it was the best wine. Did the bride ever know about the incident? How many blessings surround us of which we are not aware? Her story reminds me to open my eyes and to keep the faith; just because someone doesn't see God's miracles doesn't mean they don't happen.
Another category covers 16 Old Testament women who are also mentioned in the New Testament. For example, the New Testament discussion of Sarah and Hagar explains that “the women represent two covenants” (Galatians 4:24b). Jesus is from Isaac's line, the son of the free woman Sarah. Ishmael, from the slave Hagar, represents the covenant under slavery, from which Christ has set us free. “We are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (Galatians 4:31b).
I confess that writing an essay on Jesus' mother Mary was difficult; after all, entire books have been written about her! But examining her life, I picked out 20 lessons I could boil down to a few pages. Other prominent women, like Elizabeth, Mary Magdalene, and Martha, are presented, but so are little-known women, including Drucilla, Rhoda, Joanna, Junias, Bernice, and Claudia.
Women in Parables: Monthly study
“Women in Parables” is another section in the books, and it's also the topic of this year's women's monthly Bible study. Always with the goal of applying the Bible to our lives, we are prayerfully going through a selection of parables, studying what Jesus is saying, what the women are doing, and how the lessons pertain to us today.
At the end of each study, we imagine ourselves in the parable, which teaches us something personal about our own faith walks. For example, we just studied the 10 virgins; one woman shared that she felt like a foolish virgin, and that self-awareness can help her to become wise instead
The Bible is God's true story of His love for us. It has lots of history, but it's not a book of the past. The lessons for our lives today are there; sometimes, they're easier to see than other times, but if you look for God, you will find Him (Deuteronomy 2:29; Jeremiah 29:13 paraphrased).
I hope you'll join me in looking for God, whether it's by reading these books, coming to the study, or in whatever else you feel called to do. To God be the glory!
TL’s books can be purchased on Amazon. They will also be available in the ACP Lending Library. The women's monthly study is held in room F2, 12h30-13h30. The kids' Bible study is held at the same time.
What’s up in Paris, by Karen Albrecht
The Brothers Morozov
Nearly 200 works from the sumptuous collection amassed in 1890-1914 by Muscovite culture vultures Mikhaïl and Ivan Morozov are currently on loan from Russia's Pushkin and Hermitage museums. The dazzling line-up of French paintings from virtually all the great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masters, plus works by Rodin, Camille Claudel, and Picasso, is worth braving the crowds for, especially a rare, utterly enchanting seascape by Van Gogh, and Cézanne's superb, seminal "Bathers."
Until 22 February, fondationlouisvuitton.fr
Tales of many millennia
The history of the Jewish people in North Africa may go all the way back to Moses (and beyond), but it certainly doesn't end there. After shows devoted to Islam and Christianity in the region, Paris’s Arab World Institute is now celebrating the multiple millennia of Jewish culture with "Juifs d'Orient." Ancient frescoes, superb artefacts, and fascinating photographs celebrate the vibrant Jewish communities that have flourished across many cities, countries, and centuries.
Until 13 March, imarabe.org
Some 230 photos on loan from New York's Museum of Modern Art provide a crisp and compelling snapshot of avant-garde photographic genius in the first half of the 20th century. The human body is depicted underwater, jumping out of airplanes, or sliced into surrealistic segments. Close-ups of nature range from disturbing to eerily serene. Lightbulbs appear in a surprising variety of guises. And the witty, intense, and often droll self-portraits even include one cleverly shot as a reflection... in a lightbulb.
Until 13 February, jeudepaume.org
"Cole Porter in Paris, Les Frivolités parisiennes" is a sort of storybook mixing Porter's music with material from his life and letters, to celebrate the Roaring Twenties, when the wickedly witty composer held court on the Left Bank. Campy costumes and staging play up his genius for languorous elegance and urbane innuendo. Porter’s vivacious, often viper-tongued lyrics are a real mouthful for the French cast, but these songs are so great that, well, anything goes.
Until 1 January, chatelet.com. In English and French, with surtitles in both languages.
The sun never sets
In 1982, back when Saint-Germain-des-Près was the one and only place to go for jazz, a mama-papa restaurant in Les Halles started hosting live sets. Forty years on, thanks to masterful programming by their son Stéphane, the Sunset and its upstairs annex the Sunside are the epicenter of a new jazz mecca in rue des Lombards, while the legendary Saint-Germain clubs have, sadly, faded away. This January, the Sunset is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a special concert series, kicking off with legendary jazz organist Rhoda Scott.
A little light entertainment
Need a break from the stress and strain of Paris life? Head up to La Villette, where La Bande à Tyrex is taking over the big top tent with their hip and hilarious bicycle ballet, featuring two-wheeled acrobatics executed to the tune of lively rock'n'roll. Stroll around outside to take in the free "Lumières!" show lighting up the La Villette complex, its gardens, and even the glassy surface of the nearby canal with inventive illuminations.
Until 2 January, lavillette.com
Children lead in worship: Sunday, 12 December, our children will be leading us in worship at both the 11h and 14h services.
Our 11h service will be a service of Lessons and Carols. This is a special tradition in our community, when we are led in scripture and song by our children in worship as we prepare our hearts to wonder at the gift of the coming of Jesus into our world.
Our 14h service will be an intergenerational service, where our children lead us in song and scripture, and our congregation worships all together.
Christmas poinsettias: Participate in our Christmas Eve worship services this year, wherever you may be, by providing a Christmas poinsettia for the ACP sanctuary and making a special dedication in honor or memory of a loved one in our worship bulletins. The suggested donation for the poinsettia is 25€ per plant. However, we invite you to prayerfully consider making a special donation for your poinsettia to help ACP thrive into the next year. Last day to order: 19 December. Order today at acparis.org/poinsettias.
Generosity Campaign for 2022 Giving: Did you miss Commitment Sunday? No worries, you can still make your 2022 giving commitment online at acparis.org/estimatedgiving2022. Thanks for your support as we continue to rebuild and renovate the post-pandemic church!
St. Paul: The Bridge Builder, Wednesday Evening Adult Learning at ACP: Weekly through 15 December 19h30-21h via Zoom. Join us each Wednesday evening as we explore the mission and vision of the Apostle Paul as revealed in his letters to the churches in Asia Minor. Register at acparis.org/signups.
Monthly Women’s Fellowships
Sunday 12 December – Women’s Fellowship Christmas Fete, 12h30-13h30, all Women welcome! Rev. Jodi Fondell has graciously agreed to host an in-person gathering for us in the spirit of past gatherings, although for safety reasons without the full caroling experience. There may not be a piano and singing loudly for all to hear this year, but there will be games, fun and fellowship!
Please come with some food, snacks appetizer-style or sweets, to share. Also, just for this month please confirm likely attendance and yummy contribution in this planning center, we can adjust accordingly for numbers and contributions.
Sunday 23 January – the Women's Fellowship will be held virtually on Zoom from 16h30-18h. “Where is Mary? Church History and Texts of Transformation and Trouble for Women,” presentation and discussion led by Kate Snipes.
The Chosen: Movie & Discussion Night series, each Sunday evening through 12 December, from 19h-21h, on Zoom. You might be familiar with this highly successful international crowd-funded movie series about the life of Jesus and the disciples. The series portrays Jesus through the eyes of those who met him. It was created, directed, and co-written by American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, and you can see the trailer here: https://youtu.be/K1-FoFj8Jbo.
Each episode is a story of its own, no commitment required, join whenever you can. To receive the Zoom link, please sign up to the All Church Fellowship group at the Church Planning Center: https://acparis.churchcenter.com/groups/fellowship-and-community-groups/all-church-fellowship-group. After the movie is finished, we switch to gallery screen for discussion time and close in prayer.
Let's welcome newcomers!
Accidental Docent – Catch up on Fred Gramann’s illuminating, cheeky video series on ACP heritage and history here https://acparis.org/accidentaldocent
ACP Movie Discussion Group
Date: Thursday, 16 December, at 19h30, via Zoom
Films to see on Netflix: tick, tick … Boom!, Procession, The Power of the Dog.
Films to see in the cinema: Encanto, Madres paralelas, Nowhere Special/Un endroit comme un autre (from 8 Dec).
ACP Today radio show in December:
Monday 13 December: Join Amit Pieter and Pastor Jodi Fondell as they discuss how Advent helps us arrive at Christmas, prepared to celebrate the joy of Christ's birth once again. Learn about the Swedish Christmas tradition of celebrating Santa Lucia, and of course, enjoy some Christmas music.
Traditional Worship is in the Sanctuary at 11h, and is livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube (see acparis.org for links).
Contemporary Worship is in the Sanctuary at 14h.
Children's Worship at 11h and 14h.
Registration is once again required for the services, along with the pass sanitaire.
Register here: https://acparis.churchcenter.com/registrations/events
Volunteer Editor for The Spire