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Celebrating New Birth In The Loire In France

As well as celebrating the arrival of Christ, the new-born king, a congregation in France celebrated another step in its short history. The fledgling community of S. Alcuin of York meets in Tours in the Loire Valley. Father John Neal writes:-

“Unsurprisingly, when we had a church meeting after the Eucharist in September a Carol Service was unanimously requested. It was also our wish to celebrate it jointly with our hosts, the Église reformée de Touraine, should they agree. The Pasteur, David Mitrani, was very keen on the idea, having previously ministered in Cognac and come across carol services put on by the Poitou-Charentes chaplaincy. Their conseil paroissial also agreed.

“The service was planned jointly from the start and it was decided it should be bilingual and follow the traditional nine lessons format – 5 in English,4 in French – and have carols known by both communities. An interesting point was that David translated his introduction from Common Worship: Times and Seasons.

“Next came the question of service sheets. As far as the French were concerned the service was a novelty (Christmas in Advent!) and it was well nigh impossible to guess in advance how many might come. He has a Sunday morning congregation of about sixty and we have never got beyond 29. 50 orders of service seemed right, which I upped to 60.

“A full 10 minutes before the start and we had totally run out of them, with people still coming in. There were certainly over 100 and the little building was packed, not only with people from our two communities but also Roman Catholics and other Protestants. The service went swimmingly, as if everybody was totally used to it. David, particularly, enjoyed it and has written, “C'est un beau cadeau de Noël que vous nous avez fait.” A perfect evening and it has lifted the spirits of the people of S. Alcuin’s (not that they were down before!)."