Some of our Diocesan congregations in France have a long and proud history but we are encouraged to see new congregations being formed and growing there. A glance at the map may suggest that St Pargoire is an isolated village in the South of France – it is not far off the main A75 motorway, near Bezier and Montpellier – but the shoots of new growth are being witnessed.
A midweek service in October at the main parish church, the ancient Temple in St Pargoire, attracted 48 people. Bishop David celebrated Holy Communion before he and Adrian Mumford, Diocesan Secretary, talked about how the new English speaking church there can develop.
Until now it has been under the care of Rev Jenny Deverill, Priest-in-charge of St Michael's in the Gard – the nearest congregation. St Pargoire is blessed by having two priests, Rev Richard Acworth and Rev Roger Smith who are able to help maintain regular services.
Almost everyone at the church and subsequent meeting were retired English folk. Many have close church connections back in England. There was one "working" family, who happened to be the local wine producer (who kindly supplied the refreshments).
Their development and progress as a new church follows the text-book model for the Diocese.
- With more than 45 people on the electoral roll they are drafting a formal Constitution which will have to be approved by the Bishop
- An inaugural Annual General Meeting will be held in January, with elections of a Church Council, Churchwardens, and 2 representatives to the Archdeaconry Synod.
- The new Church Council will then set about the formal task of appointing their own Priest-in-Charge and it is hoped that one will be appointed and inducted early next year.
- The congregation will also consider a formal name for the parish – bearing in mind that the ministry and church life may grow beyond the borders of the small town of St Pargoire in the future.
This is a typical example of how the congregations are added to our existing 270 in the Diocese and shows a fascinating and practical glimpse into how God is working with ex-Pats and others who need worship and pastoral care. The fledgling church is delighted to have very good relations with the Eglise Reformee and with the Roman Catholic Church locally so will be welcomed into the ecumenical family and become part of the community in the Region of St Herault.
The church's website is http://www.heraultenglishchurch.fr/