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.