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AQUITAINE CHURCH OFFERS TOUR DE FRANCE RELIEF

On Wednesday 12 July, the village of Eymet in the Chaplaincy of Aquitaine hosted 15,000 visitors for stage 11 of the Tour de France, many passing directly in front of the entrance to the Eymet Temple, where weekly Fresh Expressions services are held. The Eymet Temple was established as one of the 'meeting points' of the event, and with the support of Allan and Julia Petchey, the congregation took advantage of the opportunity to be a beacon of light and living water during this event.

In a united effort of faith in action, many from the Chaplaincy gathered at the Temple to offer water to the crowds, prayer support for those in need, worship music inside the Temple, and a listening ear to those trying to reconnect or discover God for the very first time. Most of the congregation came on the day and beforehand to help prepare the Temple, and were supported by our Chaplain Rev Tony Lomas and Rev Deacon Charlotte Sullivan.

The Temple also featured a new summer exhibition on the water of life, with verses from John's Gospel in French and English adorning the walls on big colourful posters, along with beautiful paintings of water scenes painted by a member of the congregation.

The result was that an estimated 1,000 people were touched by the initiative: at least 120 people used the new WC (contributing donations towards the WC ‘flush fund’) often queuing up inside the Temple where they could chat to members of the congregation and read the posters on the walls, 436 water bottles were given away with a smile, a laugh and sometimes a few words, 250 postcards advertising the Temple services and the Chaplaincy in French and English and 200 copies of Mark's Gospel, in French were also given away.

Charlotte writes, “I was struck by the determination Allan and Julia who, supported by the rest of the congregation, made sure everything was ready for the day. I enjoyed the atmosphere and how friendly everyone was. There were times when people seemed reluctant to take things from the hands of someone wearing a dog collar - in case some sort of cost was involved. For most a reassuring smile was all that was needed to show them that hospitality is a gift freely given.

All morning I kept asking the Armée and the Gendarmes if they wanted water as they patrolled up and down the street - and for hours I was met with simple shakes of the head. Then very late morning a weary pair of Gendarmes approached us - we thought we might be in trouble for handing out religious postcards etc - but no, they simply needed water.”