New Chaplain for St. Mark’s Versailles

My last visit of the academic year was to St. Mark’s Versailles to license The Revd. Dale Hanson as Chaplain. I knew Dale when he was vicar of St. Nicholas’ church, Durham (UK). He moved with his wife Pat to Hong Kong at the same time Helen and I moved to Brussels. We stayed in touch, and I was delighted when he expressed willingness to come to Paris last year, where he ministered at St. Michael’s during its vacancy. Dale now begins a new ministry as Chaplain of St Mark’s Versailles with St. Paul’s Chévry. He brings notable gifts of teaching, congregational leadership and pastoral care.

Versailles is an ICS-linked chaplaincy. Richard Bromley (left), ICS Mission Director, preached at the licencing. He invited St. Mark’s to consider what image might best represent the chaplaincy – a fellowship holding hands, a community gathered around the Bible, a well around which thirsty people gather, a boat offering refuge…?

The licensing featured the customary procession of symbolic gifts. Being the last Sunday of July, the atmosphere was especially summery and informal as this image indicates.

In the social time after the service, I had opportunity to speak with one of senior members of St. Mark’s. Mrs. Jacoblev (née Stewart) had married a Franco-Russian of noble background in Paris. He came to faith through the ministry of St. Mark’s. She described to me how, with some humility, he joined a group of children to be admitted to his first communion. Mrs. Jacoblev has long been widowed, and St. Mark’s is an important source of fellowship for her.

St. Mark’s Versailles traces its history back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. For many years it sought an appropriate home. Eventually, in 1986, a plot of land with a collection of buildings was purchased with donations and loans from members of the congregation and help from ICS. In the 1990s the building of a new church centre was begun. The building was eventually finished and dedicated by Bishop David in 2013. It is a beautifully light and spacious worship and social centre of which the community is justly proud.

Dale’s licencing marks a new ministerial start for St. Mark’s. He provides hope and stability for the future. He will, I hope, sustain a loving, Spirit-filled and outward looking community that inhabits and uses the lovely buildings at St. Mark’s to their full extent. Do pray for him and Pat as they settle into their new life and vocation in Versailles.



Summer Confirmation at Christ Church Düsseldorf

This was my last Confirmation of the academic year and an appropriately sunny and festive occasion.

Here are some pictures giving a sense of the atmosphere.

The Confirmation candidates: Cecilia Moesle, Ozilim Ikegwu, Ifechukwu Ikegwu and Daniel Kolstoe
with me and chaplain Stephen Walton.
After the service, we moved into the church grounds for some social time.
Ozilim and Ifechukwu’s mother Antonia had prepared a Nigerian banquet.
Two large cakes completed the sense of celebration.

Christ Church is blessed with lots of outdoor space, shaded by trees, with views over the Rhine. It is a wonderful venue for a summer party.

The gospel reading for the day concerned another and very different kind of party: the event at which Herod and Herodias contrived between them the slaughter of John the Baptist. Not an appropriate text for a confirmation service!

So instead, we looked at the New Testament reading: Ephesians 1:3-14. I encouraged the candidates to know themselves as ‘chosen by God’; ‘adopted into the family of Jesus Christ’ and to understand that they were ‘sealed by the Holy Spirit’.

Ephesians 1 is a glorious hymn of praise. It encourages and inspires us to praise God and to give thanks for all the blessings of this earthly life. During the service we sang a paraphrase of Ephesians 1, written by Geoff Bullock, which makes a good song of thanksgiving for the lovely summer many of us are enjoying:

Oh the mercy of God, The glory of grace
That You choose to redeem us, To forgive and restore
And You call us Your children, Chosen in Him
To be holy and blameless, To the glory of God

To the praise of His Glorious Grace
To the praise of His Glory and Power
To Him be all Glory Honour and Praise
For ever and ever and ever A–men

Oh the richness of Grace, The depths of His love
In Him is redemption, The forgiveness of sin
You called us as righteous, Predestined in Him
For the praise of His Glory, Included in Christ.

Oh the Glory of God expressed in His Son
His image and likeness revealed to us all
The plan of the ages completed in Christ
That we be presented perfected in Him.