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The official opening of the Épinal regional churches center

It was a meeting not just to cut a ribbon but to forge ties. Such is the recurring theme of this opening process: to create links, to nourish and deepen them among ourselves and with others. This is also the goal of the Epinal regional churches: to work for unity and solidarity among churches with the view of responding together to the command to make disciples of Jesus.

The six churches involved in the new regional churches center were assembled in Épinal. The atmosphere was relaxed and festive, the brotherly love evident. Joyful reunions took place, and new connections were likewise made! People enjoyed being together, and everyone was encouraged and nourished in their faith! In short, the Lord has blessed us.

The party began with a time of celebration. Each church had the challenge of choosing a song and performing it for the crowd, leading everyone else in worship. This enabled us at different times of the day to get a better idea of who was who!

In my speech of introduction, I recalled the verse, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5.15, NIV). This sums up the program of the Christian life and of the Church. We no longer live for ourselves but for Christ – a real challenge when prevailing individualism surrounds us so easily! Hence the importance of having united communities with each other that remain centered on Christ.

Come to think of it, our Épinal regional churches center… What is it? Who is it? With the help of a map, Yannick enlightened us and refreshed our memory by giving us, among other things, a stirring call: “Our Épinal regional churches center fills me with joy and overwhelms me with sadness. Indeed, we are happy to be together! And that is good! But we are also pained to see so many people around us ignoring God.”

Then, in going through several biblical texts, Didier showed how the churches of the New Testament were concerned with establishing strong connections among themselves by getting to know and supporting one another. Thus, the Gospel is made all the more credible.

Several have testified to this effect. For example, Sébastien and Laurent, young and old. They do not come from the same community, but during a previous inter-church gather, they discovered what they had in common: their faith in the Lord and a fondness for fishing. Bingo! They start going on fishing trips. Eventually, they shared in the battle faith and prayed together. And with a big heart, Laurent points out, “How do you expect to get to know someone if you don’t spend time with them?” This is how we grow, walking side by side. It is also possible to forge ties through using one’s skills and talents, in giving a helping hand.

For the Christmas party in Épinal, there was supposed to be a candle-making workshop, but we had no one to lead it. François-Régis had the expertise, but he was already booked for a celebration in Neufchâteau. Eric offered to teach in Neufchâteau so François-Régis was available for the Épinal workshop. Another example: Nathalie, from Épinal, is trained in member care. Other churches could also benefit from her skills. These exchanges and questions already exist, but the regional center would like to promote this more and develop it further.

As noontime approached, members of the participating churches provided local specialties: quiches, pâtés, and “fuseaux lorrains” (a type of charcuterie meat), blueberry pie, Luxeuil ham, cheeses and beer from Haute-Marne, etc. All of this as an aperitif with welcoming conversations while we tasted.

Before this, the leader and team at the regional churches center were officially appointed to their positions. Régis, responsible for leadership development at the Mission FPC, showed us a video of a driver in a motor race who managed a sharp turn at full speed – an image he applies to a team leader, guiding others through sharp turns, telling them to open their eyes and pay attention to the race! Then Michel, a representative from the Union APC, helped to encourage the leader and team by using Paul’s own exhortations to Timothy.

In the afternoon, the young and old all took part in several small team challenges. This highlighted the importance of making such connections across generations.

A “family photo” was also taken.

The day ended in prayer, and there was no shortage of requests.

Micaël Gelin, leader of the regional center

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