A joyous weekend of Confirmations in and around Paris 

Over the year, I have made four tours of different regions of France. A long weekend in November saw the fourth and final tour of some of our chaplaincies in and around Paris. Covid-19 made confirmation services difficult so there is a ‘backlog’. Beginning south of the city and pictured above is my first service of baptism and confirmation, with the community of St. Luke’s Fontainebleau. For the occasion, they had borrowed a chapel used by Roman Catholic and Romanian Orthodox communities: ‘the Church of the Ferns’. The east end of the building is marked off by a rather wonderful floor-to-ceiling tree trunk!  

Moving around to the west of the City, I was delighted to confirm this large group of mainly young people from our chaplaincies in Maisons Laffitte and Chantilly. They had taken a confirmation course provided, largely on Zoom, by Deacon Joy from Rotterdam. The course finished with a two-day ‘retreat’ in Paris. It had evidently been a huge success and perhaps provides a model for use elsewhere?  

On Sunday morning I shared in worship with the community of St. Mark’s Versailles. St. Mark’s is fortunate to inhabit one of the very few modern ‘purpose-built’ churches in the Diocese – a beautifully airy worship space along with plenty of hall and meeting space. It was a privilege to confirm these three ladies each of whom had their own story of faith to tell.   

Our final stop was at St. Michael’s right in the center of Paris, just around the corner from the Presidential Palace. This group forms part of the Tamil community that normally worships in the afternoon. For their confirmation, they joined the evening service congregation that is led by Assistant Chaplain Ben Evans. Their families were, rightly, incredibly proud of their young people. We worshipped mainly in French, which is the first or second language of most of the candidates.   

The word ‘confirmation’ means to strengthen, to establish, and to make firm. It is not easy to be a follower of Jesus Christ in a society that mainly operates as if God did not exist. Our hope and prayer is that through their own personal faith, the support of the community of the church, and the indwelling power and presence of the Holy Spirit each of our candidates will be deepened in their discipleship and stay faithful to Christ to the end of their lives.  

Centenary Celebrations at the Church of the Resurrection Bucharest 

It was a great pleasure to visit the Church of the Resurrection, Bucharest to celebrate the centenary of the building’s consecration. Pictured here alongside Chaplain Fr. Nevsky Everett is the Klein-Burtt family, all four of whom I had the privilege of confirming. The family had come to Romania from the USA via Ethiopia. In Addis Ababa they had enjoyed the ministry of Martin Reakes-Williams, formerly our chaplain in Leipzig, which had led to their commitment to the Anglican way, now followed up in Bucharest.

Fr. Nevsky arrived in Bucharest from Oxford in the Spring. He has come to the city with his wife Clare and their three small children. After a long period without a Chaplain, the church is thrilled to have a young family at the heart of their community life.

The centenary cake, made by one of the churchwardens, reflects the red brickwork of the church.

The Church of the Resurrection is an unmistakably Anglican building. It is built on land that was gifted to the Church by the Romanian Crown in 1900. The marriage of Princess Marie, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, to Crown Prince Ferdinand in 1893, will certainly have contributed to that spirit of generosity. Marie was taken to the hearts of the Romanian people and became both popular and well-known as a nurse in later years. I find the existence of this building, which has survived the long and dark years of communism and is now the centre of a vibrant community, to be something of a miracle. It stands as a reminder of the much-loved Marie, the last Queen of Romania.   

This large oil painting hangs on the East wall of the interior. It was painted by a British diplomat and given to the church on Easter Day 1934. The scene depicts the moment when the disciple whom Jesus loved came running to the sepulchre in the early morning  of the first Easter Day. St John, astonished peers into the dark opening of the cave. Meanwhile, St. Peter, supposed to be less active than St. John on account of his age, is depicted in white hastening towards the tomb.  

It is particularly appropriate for this building to be linked so strongly with Christ’s resurrection, given its own remarkable history and the central place that the resurrection has within the liturgy of the Romanian Orthodox faith.  

The centenary of the church was celebrated with choral evensong, sung by this fine choir under the direction of Andrew Noble, who combines leading the church’s music with his responsibilities as British Ambassador to Romania. I enjoyed their music very much!

Of course this quintessentially English occasion was a great opportunity to invite former chaplains and ecumenical guests, including the Papal Nuncio and the External Affairs representative of the Romanian Orthodox Church (front centre).  

I was deeply moved by my visit to the Church of the Resurrection. Romania was for many years a hard and difficult place to live. But our Anglican church has survived. It took the very considerable step of faith to recruit a full-time chaplain. And now it is thriving and growing! It offers a spiritual home to people from many countries. And it provides a base to increase friendship and ecumenical links with the Romanian Orthodox Church. It is truly a community of the Resurrection.  

The church is currently running a centenary appeal to strengthen their financial resources for the future. If you are interested in supporting their work, check out their website Donate — Church of the Resurrection (anglicanchurchbucharest.org)

I close with a prayer written by Fr. Nevsky to celebrate their centenary.  

Lord God, you have called us to be a light for the world; 
may we know the power of Christ’s Resurrection at work in our lives, 
that we may shine with the radiance of your glory, 
both now and for generations to come; 
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.