Henrik Lindell – published 31/05/2012
Praise, gospel, testimonies … Several thousand people are expected this Saturday for a “Festival in the heart Jesus’ family and ecumenical gathering at the Porte de la Muette in Paris. A unique event supported by the Catholic Church and the Protestant Federation of France.
This is a first of its kind in France. Catholics and Protestants will gather this Saturday, June 2 to enjoy a festive time together, celebrating God and testify publicly about their faith. The event “Festival in the heart Jesus” is fully focused on the visible unity in Christ. Inspired by a Swiss initiative entitled “Day of Christ”, the association is chaired by a collegiate president and two vice-presidents from the Catholic Church, the Lutheran-Reformed Churches and the Evangelical churches (ie, the President, Florian Rochat, is a Protestant minister). These leaders are committed to “focus on the One who unites us, not our Churches.”
An opportunity for Christians to meet. “We would like this to be like a family party, where everyone feels comfortable. There will also be activities for children 5 to 13 years. It is not a formal meeting or liturgical, as during the week for the unit, “said Bruno Berthon, coordinator of the event. This Catholic, member of a group of charismatic prayer, also stresses the importance for everyone to “discover that we are part of a people more than his or her parish church.”
The program is voluntary “participatory” , highlighting the activities and the party atmosphere. Considerable attention is given to musical groups, including gospel, as Bethany Gospel Choir Boys and Paris. Church leaders are also involved, such as Archbishop Vincent Jordy, President of the Council for Christian Unity of the Episcopal Conference, Claude Baty, president of the Protestant Federation of France and Laurent Schlumberger, President of the National Council of Reformed Church. But at the request of the organizers, they will not make long speeches.
Another great feature of this evening: personalities from civil society as well as preachers, known for their oratory, were invited to speak. Thus the humorist and essayist frigid Barjot, Pastor Gilles Boucomont, the priest Marie Angel Square, the speaker Lawrence Gay, President of Alpha France Marc de Leyritz, journalist Gérard Leclerc and torque Oujibou Said and Fatima, who hosts a Arab Christian community. “The most important thing is that there is a living testimony of faith,” says Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon, another linchpin of the coordination team.
The Catholic laity also charismatic , working day and night for this event for several months. Its main problem is not to obtain the approval of church leaders. In general, the bishops and Protestant leaders of federations agree, even when they are not responsible for the initiative. The hardest thing is to find volunteers willing to give of themselves and their pockets. “We should spend 60,000 euros. But now, it has garnered only 30,000. I hope that God will provide, “says Jean-Baptiste.
Between three and five thousand people are expected, organizers said. But it is impossible to have a clear idea of the number of Christians who meet there. In this ecumenical matters in general, there are not many references. “We can think of Easter Sunday morning of Defense, an event organized two years ago, bringing together 4,000 people in the unity of Christ,” says Bruno Berthon. Another initiative, more recent, shows that there is a real expectation of Christians for unity, especially among those in a charismatic spirituality, Catholics and Protestants alike.
For the weekend of the Ascension this year , the association and interdenominational charismatic “Paris anything is possible”, directed by Pastor Carlos Payan, brought together 1,200 people without problems, pre-registered, in Cergy-Pontoise (95). “If there were no space limitations, we would have been much more numerous,” said Carlos Payan. He thinks that a majority of people who come to these meetings are Catholic and a quarter of them are evangelical. “In my opinion, these people tend to focus on living a strong and genuine spirituality, rooted in Christ, they do not necessarily find in their local church or parish. They also want to hear good preaching, “said Carlos Payan.
This precursor of interfaith encounters in the contemporary Christianity is also a member of the coordinating team of “Day of Christ.” His association provides a number of volunteers, along with another major interfaith organization: Alpha France. Anyway, this first event “Day of Christ” raises the bar. “We want him to contribute to a positive image of Christians, including the province. As a rising mayonnaise, other events can then be organized in Paris and elsewhere. Then, in a few years, we will lease the Stade de France, “says Bruno Berthon. He really believes. “In an increasingly secularized world, he says, we need to encourage one another.We must create a desire for unity. “
One thing is certain: “Jesus Festival in the heart” with institutional ecumenism slice of ’70s and ’80s, unpopular. Place the concrete sharing, spontaneity, testimonies and explicit proclamation. Beyond the theological debates, the unit first seen as an evidence.
Jesus festival in the heart : the stage of the Porte de la Muette, Paris, from 16h to 21h30, Saturday, June 2