Spire, The Beacon on the Seine Spire
The Beacon on the Seine

Editor: Alison Benney

In this issue

Getting comfortable with good enough, by Reverend Paul Rock, Senior Pastor

Giving to God, by Rev. Allison Wheeler, Children’s Ministry Director

Reconciliation and the Great (Whole) Commission, featuring Dr. Al Tizon

A farewell message, by Revs. Doug and Jodi Fondell, Interim Associate Pastors

Ceremony stories, by Rev. Don Lee, Visiting Pastor

Being present, by Stacy Perkins Rock

The mouths of babes, by Peter DeWit, Mission Outreach Committee

Give It Up for Creation! by Rose Marie Burke

Sleeping with strangers, by Alison Benney

What's up in Paris, by Karen Albrecht

Hotel de la Marine: Not your average Paris monument, by Karen Marin

Ilya and the icon, by Chandra Laizeau

ACP announcements



Getting comfortable with good enough, by Reverend Paul Rock, Senior Pastor

There are a few of us who don’t make many mistakes, who, for the most part, excel in their relationships and professions and expect the same from others. Those people are, honestly, pretty annoying.

Most of us are quite aware of our mistakes and the trouble we’ve caused others by not living up to expectations. It’s a burden that literally feels like a weight resting on our shoulders. Some of the sins or mistakes or regrets in our life get replayed in our minds over and over, and keep our hearts and souls tied in a knot. But as odd and weird and unhealthy as it is, we seem to find ways to live with those knots. They even become a part of who we are. We become seasoned, cynical, tough. Jesus teaches us to seek forgiveness in proportion to how we extend it. The problem is, the person we have the hardest time extending forgiveness to, oftentimes, is ourselves. So, what do we do?

Well, if we’re honest, we consume. Sadly, we are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and over-medicated, generation to walk the earth. Which is another way of saying we don’t deal with our problems very well. We eat, we deny, we drink, we work harder, we avoid, we medicate, we numb, we blame, we build walls, we suffer. We do just about everything but repent. Because repentance is hard. It’s vulnerable. It’s scary. If it was easy, we could just do it and forgive ourselves for that thing we can’t do, or that thing we did or continue to do, and be done with it. That would be great. But it’s not that easy. Big knots do not get untied quickly.

But here’s where I think we can do some work together this Lent, reframing and renaming repentance. In Old Testament culture, the word for sin was harmartia, an archery term for missing the mark. If you think about the imprecision of shooting an arrow and all the variables involved, it’s not surprising that you’d miss the mark. It’s actually expected a good percentage of the time. But, it’s correctable. You don’t run and hide. You don’t beat yourself up or give up, or feel ashamed if you shoot and miss again. You pick up your arrow, reflect on what might have gone wrong, ask for help, correct your form, and try again.

Louis Newman, a professor at Carleton College, teaches on the Hebrew word for repentance, T’Shuva, which means “to return.” For Christians, the season of Lent is similar to the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. Together, we return. We go back to the parts of ourselves that led to mistakes. We don’t level punishment, we just observe, learn, admit faults, and make corrections. We will never be perfect, but with reflection, prayer, returning, help, correcting, trying again, we can all be good. And that’s enough. 

May it become a part of our daily lives as followers of Christ: Returning, reflecting, admitting, correcting, reconciling. And if we can learn this practice individually, then, maybe together, we can engage the bigger conversations, extending grace, admitting fault, and watching the Spirit heal our broken communities and systems and bringing us, together, to the Easter we’re made for.

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Giving to God, by Rev. Allison Wheeler, Children’s Ministry Director

A surprise awaited the children at Sunday School on 20 February: they were each presented with a handmade stuffed animal! I wrote a letter to the parents explaining the gift, and thought the ACP community would be delighted to hear the story behind these “loveys.”

One of our beloved church members and Children's Worship teachers, Miss Uche, fell gravely ill with Covid this past autumn and was in the hospital for several months. She spent several weeks of that time in a coma. By the grace of God, she made a full recovery, and we give praise to the Lord that she was back with us on Sunday 20 February.

Uche wanted to give an offering of thanksgiving to God, and proposed gifting these sweet stuffed toys – each of them completely unique, and handmade by her – to the children of our church. She was able to come in person that day and pass them out, and to share a bit of her story with the children. She told us, "I am doing this because I know that when you give to children, you are giving to God."

May these gifts bring your children joy and comfort, and be a reminder of the goodness of a God who loves us each so very dearly.

In Christ,




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Reconciliation and the Great (Whole) Commission, featuring Dr. Al Tizon

Thurber Conversation: Tuesday 15 March at 19h30 (on-site and via Zoom)

Join us online or in person for our Thurber Conversation with Dr. Al Tizon on 15 March. Al will speak to us on the subject of Reconciliation and the Great (Whole) Commission. The dinner at ACP will begin at 19h, with the conversation opening at 19h45 on Zoom. Please register for either in-house or online here.

Al Tizon is Affiliate Associate Professor of Missional and Global Leadership at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Il. Previous leadership positions he has held include Executive Minister of Serve Globally, the international ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church and co-president of Christians for Social Action, founding director of LIGHT Ministries in the Olongapo City, Philippines, and associate professor of holistic ministry at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University near Philadelphia, PA. Al has engaged in community development, church leadership, advocacy, and urban ministry in the United States and in the Philippines.

You can read more about Al's latest book “Whole and Reconciled: Gospel, Church, Mission in a Fractured World” on his website: www.draltizon.com. We are excited to welcome Al to ACP and benefit from his expertise in mission and ministry.

Register at the ACP registration center to attend via Zoom or on-site. A "Pass Vaccinal" is required for the in-person event in the Thurber Room. There will be a meal served at the live gathering, and we ask for a donation of €5 to help cover the costs of the food.



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A farewell message, by Revs. Doug and Jodi Fondell, Interim Associate Pastors

Sisters and Brothers of the ACP,

Our time partnering in ministry with you will be coming to a close at the end of March. It's been a blessed but challenging experience throughout, due to the pandemic. Yet we've treasured the opportunity to grow in our love for the church and all of the people who have been entrusted to our care.

Looking back, we realize Plan A, B, C, D, or no plan, has unexpectedly been our modus operandi over the past two years. We arrived in February 2020. Five weeks later, the pandemic hit and our best-laid plans ran amok.

As interim associate pastors, our hope throughout was to play to our strengths: giving shape and form to Christian Education, Community Life, and Lay Care Ministries in a manner that's intentional about bringing diverse groups of people together for shared study, reflection, care, fun, fellowship, and service.

Once the pandemic hit, our new/immediate focus centered around finding a pathway to broadcast the ACP worship services online. Simultaneously, we needed to find consistent and meaningful mid-week ministries that could be held online; to do our best to help on-going Bible study groups and fellowship groups learn how to function online; and then to address pastoral concerns of particular members of our congregation.

With virtually no experience or expertise in online ministry we simply did the best we could do.

We're generally pleased with the outcome and the pathway to getting there. The response to online learning has been consistently fruitful in attendance, and feedback expressed by those who attended was very positive. Most adult learning opportunities have led to a much broader demographic of participation, reflecting the aspirations of our welcome and inclusion statement. Challenging pastoral concerns addressing the needs of particular individuals have been cared for to the best of our abilities.

Undoubtedly, there is much more to do as the ACP seeks to live into a post-pandemic future, yet we have every reason to believe that God's guidance of very capable leaders will help you all to take the next best steps.

As the months unfold, you'll be experiencing a leadership gap that will be filled with possibilities and perhaps a bit of confusion. Lean into the possibilities and the confusion. There's no doubt in our minds that you'll work through this gap period in a manner that sustains fruitful ministry. Be good to one another. Work together. Celebrate the gift mix that God has given you to bless the lives of others.

We're grateful for being invited to serve as interim associate pastors at the ACP. Though this season of ministry has not been easy, there are no regrets. We have enjoyed sharing this position for the past two years. The joy of working beside delightful and capable colleagues in ministry throughout the pandemic has been life-giving. And, the advances the ACP is committed to are exciting: a new and vibrant post-pandemic future that will serve the church well for years to come.

You will always abide in our prayers!

For the past 24 years, international ministry has shaped the core of our identity as pastors and it's also blessed us beyond belief. The primary blessings are rooted in relationships that mirror something of Christ's Kingdom vision for living. Our experience of the people of the APC has significantly added to our sense of feeling a part of that Kingdom picture. For this we are grateful to all of you! We treasure the “mosaic” of friendships made throughout our time with you, and we trust those friendships in Christ will abide for years and years to come.

 As you continue to press on as a faith community, we have one expectation: that you will be encouraged and trust that God will be faithful to you as you move into your future! The Apostle Paul says it better,

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Romans 15:5-6

With gratitude and love. Yours in Christ,
Revs. Douglas and Jodi Fondell


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Ceremony stories, by Rev. Don Lee, Visiting Pastor

One of the great joys of being your Visiting Pastor is to perform weddings. Of course, with the pandemic, these have been few and far between! Recently, though, we have been experiencing a very mild increase in weddings and vow renewals, and that’s a good sign for the days and months of recovery ahead.

We’ve had two lovely weddings in February with delightful couples: one French and one Japanese.

We also tried a different kind of fundraiser: Valentine’s Vows Extravaganza. Now, if you judged “extravaganza” by the number of people who took part, then you would not think this very successful. Yet, two couples came forward to renew their wedding vows and make a contribution to the church’s ministry. One of these couples was our own John and Sharon Martin, who renewed their vows to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Theirs was a beautiful service filled with love and joy, a very definite counterpoint to the weight of the pandemic. See the wonderful photo by Mark Primmer. Many thanks to Mark for donating his time and talent to this event!

Fred Gramman, of course, provided beautiful music to highlight each service and Jörg Kaldewey, despite added duties as interim administrator, organized the services with aplomb.

In the last issue of the Spire, I asked if any of you had photos of weddings and vow renewals from the past. Well, Jane Maurin replied with an interesting history. Her daughter, Alicia, was married to Matt at the church on 18 December 1997 (see the photo here of the family on the steps to the sanctuary). Her son Edmond was married to Astrid at the church on 1 February 2014 and their sons were baptized at the church also.

We hope to see many more weddings and vow renewals in the months ahead!

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Being present, by Stacy Perkins Rock

Learning a new language as an adult is a daunting experience. As a kid growing up in southwest Missouri, burrowed deep in the Bible Belt of the United States, I studied Latin in high school with neither the internet nor the expectation that a foreign language would actually be a practical life skill.

I switched to German in college after I spent a year abroad in Pepperdine University’s Heidelberg program. After college, I lived for three years in Budapest, Hungary, where I learned just enough Hungarian to be dangerous to get by on trains, restaurants and in grocery stores. Sadly, I haven’t found the Finno-Ugric origins of Hungarian particularly helpful as I dive into beginner’s French.

My brain, however, regularly serves up Hungarian words as I attempt to purchase deux pains au chocolat at the boulangerie or ask “ou sont les toilettes” at a museum. I have learned to preface all of my queries with “pardon, je parle un peu francais” (though for our first several months here I stated with confidence, “je parler un peu francais” until Paul’s intermediate French ear caught my inadvertent infinitive – I really emphasized the meaning in those early days). The French have been so patient and kind with my nascent attempts.

So much of beginning language acquisition is rote memorization, and if you’ve learned a second (or third!) language as an adult, you may recall repeating verb tenses starting with the present tense: je suis; tu es; elle est… j’ai; tu as; il a. This has been a good practice for me, not just in learning French, but also to slow down and try to stay in the present moment. I don’t know about you, but my mind works overtime, alternatively causing me to cringe at things I’ve said in the past, followed by plans and lists for the future. Learning French pulls me back into the present tense quite literally.

I’ve been slowly reading Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted since we moved to Paris in August. This book has helped me reorient my thoughts and attention to the present. One practice in particular that I’ve taken from the book is this: “Whenever you feel depleted or overwhelmed, say to yourself, ‘My great, full heart overflows with compassion.’ Inhale slowly with ‘My great, full heart,’ and then exhale on ‘overflows with compassion.’ Feel the soothing rhythm as you direct this compassion to yourself, and then imagine it going toward known and unknown people who might need such grace. Let this practice fill and refill the wellspring of your heart.”

When I remember to breathe intentionally, picturing compassion flowing in and through me, I start to notice things and people around me more vividly. Frankly, I think it causes me to wake up to real living instead of anxiously rehashing or rushing through life.

The practice of being present isn’t a new idea. The Hebrew word hineni, which means “behold me” or “here I am,” is used in the Bible hundreds of times. The meaning is less about geography, as in “here I am at the Eiffel Tower.” Rather, it’s more about mindful presence. “I’m here, I’m paying attention, I’m present.”

One of my favorite songs, “Here I am, Lord” is based on Isaiah 6:8. In a vision, Isaiah heard God ask, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” And Isaiah replied, “Hineni. Send me.” Similarly, in the New Testament, the Greek phrase idou ego means “behold I.” When teen-aged Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel with news that she would carry and give birth to the Christ, her response was “Idou.” “Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38). Indeed, as Pope Benedict said, “Mary of Nazareth is the woman of the full and complete ‘here I am’ to the Divine will...”

So, I will do my best to learn French, present tense first, and God-willing, even pronounce the conjugations correctly! I will also do my best to live in the present with you at ACP, among our neighbors in Paris, attuned to God’s presence in and through you and this place. I am here. Je suis ici!


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The mouths of babes, by Peter DeWit, Mission Outreach Committee


My family and I were in Toronto once to visit potential donors and were taking a tour in an immense, new church building. Each room was immaculate. The music pastor’s office was so large that a small choir could practice in it. We politely complimented on this and that, when my young daughter blurted out a question to the pastor: “What are you doing for the homeless?” The pastor looked confused, responding that other churches did that kind of thing. I smiled to myself, thinking that this child of mine had the heart of Jesus quite right. A little child shall lead them. 

Reading the life of Jesus, you cannot miss two things: he was fun to be around and he had a soft spot for children. They seem to go hand in glove. One day when the disciples were arguing who was the greatest in the kingdom, he put a child on his lap and told them there wasn’t even a chance to get into the kingdom unless you became like a child. Children for Jesus were the perfect picture of innocence, trust, joy, and willingness to learn and serve.

We all remember the story when the disciples became annoyed with the kids trying to get Jesus' attention. And to everyone’s surprise, Jesus scolded the men, saying, “Let the children come unto me.” And it was not by chance that it was a child who shared his lunch of loaves and fish to a crowd of hundreds! A child, a hero. Faith is never child-proofed. And one of the sternest warnings of Jesus was his stern warning to never lead a child astray or wound a child’s trusting heart. 

Yes, Jesus had a tender spot for children. And so should we. This month we have a missional opportunity to bless six children in Uganda. They are part of the Rafiki Foundation where Patti Lafage contributed her love, skills, and time for many years, until her recent retirement. Her passion for children has not abated. Nor has ours.

These Rafiki children and youth are orphans who have been rescued from tragic conditions. We need to support these children in order to maintain their loving Christian home and excellent schools. Between the ages of 15 to 21, they are hoping to complete high school and continue to university or vocational school. They have few sponsors, and would be grateful and thrilled to have ACP or individual members on their sponsor list.

This month, please consider a financial and/or spiritual gift to six beautiful Ugandan children known personally by Patti. You can either sponsor one of the kids monthly or contribute to a special one-time gift earmarked for Rafiki. Our goal for 2022 is 3,000 euros. The orphanage needs our support. In this way we can actively remain connected to the tenderness of Jesus for the children of our world.

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Give It Up for Creation! by Rose Marie Burke

Lent is traditionally a time of prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor. This year, ACP is doing it with creation in mind. The world is facing a climate crisis, which some theologians say is primarily a spiritual and moral crisis. God created the Earth, deeming it good, and humans are called to be stewards, not destroyers. What can we as Christians do in the face of destruction?

Even committing to do one thing is “Good Enough,” the theme of ACP’s Lenten journey this year. Join us in pledging to accept one or more of the six challenges below, one for each week of Lent. Or do all six for all of Lent! Make your pledge here so we have an idea how many are participating.

  1. Pray for creation. God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality everything and everyone is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one.” – Father Richard Rohr, OFM
  2. Eat plant-based meals or fast one or more days a week. Shifting to a mostly vegetarian diet, or just cutting meat consumption to within accepted health guidelines, could make a large dent in the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Adhering to the guidelines could cut global food-related emissions about 30% by 2050. Widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63%. (Source: Oxford Martin School.) Some ideas: lentil soup, chickpea couscous, vegetarian pizza.
  3. Go to a park and walk or pray. As Pope Francis writes in his encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, “Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. ‘Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker’ (Wisdom 13:5); indeed, ‘his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world’ (Romans 1:20). … Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”
  4. Reduce your energy use. Natural gas and coal power contribute greatly to climate change. In France, most electricity comes from nuclear power, which does not contribute to climate change, but has its own issues, such as nuclear waste. However, France is putting more coal-fired plants online as aging nuclear plants go offline for maintenance. Some simple ways to save a lot of energy: avoid using clothes dryers, reduce your thermostat by 1 degree, heat one less room (maybe the bedroom), take short, lukewarm showers. (Source: 10:10 campaign.)
  5. Buy nothing new this week. Excluding fresh food, medicine, and basic toiletries, could you spend Lent using what’s already on hand: mending, borrowing, buying secondhand, going without? In our throwaway society, fast fashion, for example, lures us with cheap prices, made possible by exploiting workers or natural resources. The carbon impact of a simple outfit of jeans, t-shirt, jacket, trainers (and underwear, of course!), over its lifecycle, is the equivalent of driving from London to Paris. And growing 1 kg of cotton takes 20,000 liters of water, often polluting local ecosystems. (Source: Living Lent.)
  6. Donate to the poor, often hurt more by climate change. Rich people in rich countries are responsible for most carbon emissions, while poorer people and developing countries face the most death and destruction from climate change. Places like Lagos (Nigeria), Haiti, Yemen, Manila (Philippines) and the Pacific island of Kiribati will suffer terribly from climate change. (Source: Time ) What can we do about this climate injustice? Donate to an environmental charity like the World Wildlife Fund or Geres, an award-winning French-based nonprofit specializing in climate solidarity, especially cleaner and more efficient energy.

Our Lent Challenge was inspired by LivingLent.org, which held challenges in 2019 and 2020. ACP’s challenge is organized by the Creation Care Task Force, which the ACP Council established in December 2021 to uphold the church’s core value of creation care. Look for the task force’s next activity, a Zoom talk by climate scientist Scott Denning at 19h30 on Earth Day: Friday, April 22. See our webpage at ACParis.org/creation care. Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Sleeping with strangers, by Alison Benney

Don’t you love the idea that ACP provides shelter for refugees during the cold winter weather? I knew that Daniel Tostado was seeking people to help out, so took the plunge and volunteered to be one of two people who stay the night at the church as an ACP rep. How difficult could it be?

After I had signed up, practical questions struck me: Do I wear pajamas? Bring my own pillow? What if I snore? Can I get up for a bathroom break? Is there time to brush my teeth in the morning? Fortunately, Daniel has a list of instructions, and the same dedicated volunteer, Shahram, is there each night to welcome our guests.

Turns out it’s easy-peasy. I got to the church at 21h45, and our 10 guests – 8 men and 2 women – had already arrived, waiting on the sidewalk next to the side door with Shahram. He shepherded us all downstairs to the gym, and everyone pitched in to pull out the mattresses from the storage room and place them around the floor of the basketball court. Everyone knew where to go to get their personal bags holding linens and pillows, I helped bring the hot water pitcher and stores of food from the fridge, and within minutes, everyone was set up for the night.

Guests who crave sleep and/or privacy retire to their mattresses right away. Others are more outgoing, enjoying a bit of chat and food. I had a cup of tea, learned about R.’s teaching job she left in Algeria, laughed with S. as he joked about his soccer skills, and commiserated with A., whose backpack was heavy with all the paperwork he had to keep with him.

Lights go out at 23h. As a female volunteer, I slept upstairs next to the bathroom, in the same area as the two female guests. Tucked into my sleeping bag on the mattress, it was so quiet that I felt every move I made might wake up everyone. Was I breathing too heavily? Where were those awful pipe noises coming from?

I didn’t get much sleep that night, and it occurred to me that not only was I out of my comfort zone, but this is something that each of our guests deals with all the time. My own misgivings must be similar to what they go through at each new shelter, each new public service, each new admin office, but without the luxury of choice that I have as a volunteer. As Pastor Jodi says in her book Welcoming the Stranger, any immigrant has to deal with insecurity, along with unfamiliar surroundings, language, and culture, all without the support systems and acceptance that we residents take for granted.

My phone alarm went off quietly at 6:35 the next morning, giving me 10 minutes to brush my teeth and get dressed before we turned the lights on for everyone to get up. We offered tea and instant coffee, and set out fruit and yogurt. Some guests took a shower while others just dressed quickly and started helping haul mattresses back into storage.

After a bit of breakfast and quiet morning cheer, everyone had left by 7h30. They spend their days outdoors in the city, going from one public service to another. One sells cigarettes in the metro, another studies French and math at a public school. All are homeless, which makes our nightly provision of safe lodgings a real gift. When I returned the next week for another sleepover, I felt more comfortable. And I realized as well, of course, that I was no longer sleeping with strangers but now spending the night with friends.

The mission ends mid-March, but volunteers are still needed. If you’d like to volunteer or assist 100NOW, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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What’s up in Paris, by Karen Albrecht

From <em>Angels wear white</em> by Vivian QuAction!

The 44th annual Festival International de Films de Femmes, on the decidedly inclusive theme "À nos amour(s)," recognizes outstanding creative work by women from all around the globe. There's a special focus on the hard-earned achievements of female filmmakers in China, a tribute to feminist pioneer Susan Sontag, and competitions honoring the finest short films, documentaries, and even horror films. This year's festival is returning to in-person screenings, but will also maintain some great programming online at festivalscope.com.  

11-20 March, filmsdefemmes.com


Photo: © Adagp, Paris, 2022 / photo Alberto RicciPioneer women

The 1920s were a decade of profound social change, intense artistic innovation, and pushing of boundaries. "Pionnières" at the Musée du Luxembourg zeroes in on the female artists, some famous, some forgotten, who flocked to Paris during "les Années folles," defying discrimination to engage in a bold new exploration of women's bodies, women's roles, and gender identity itself. Along with Tamara de Lempicka, Marie Laurencin, Sonia Delaunay, and other gifted painters and sculptors, the show celebrates the groundbreaking work and highly original style of African-American singer-dancer Josephine Baker.

Until 10 July, museeduluxembourg.fr






Photo: ©Roya HeydariFugitive beauty

"Le Rire des Amants" at the Pavillon Carré de Baudoin features work by six exiled Afghan photographers. There is some first-rate photojournalism on display, with crisp images documenting some unforgettable faces, and heartbreaking scenes of Afghan women and girls marooned amid oppression and violence. The show's three women photographers serve up boldly colorful visions, brimming with beauty, poetry, and a certain ironic ‒ yet tender ‒ humor. The title and accompanying texts come from the poet-philosopher Sayd Bahodine Majrouh, who was assassinated in 1988, a tireless and eloquent advocate for women's rights.

Until 2 April, www.pavilloncarredebaudouin.fr  


Photo: Philip de Laszlo, Anna de Noailles, 1913 - © RMN-Grand Palais / Hervé Lewandowski

Young girls in flower

Some of the most memorable female characters in French literature spring from Proust's epic “In Search of Lost Time.” Now in its final weeks, "Marcel Proust, a Parisian novel" homes in on the neighborhoods where Proust was born, lived, and died, exploring the high-society haunts frequented by the author ‒ and by his fictional heroines. Enchanting videos feature the model for young Mademoiselle de Saint-Loup and the maidservant who proudly describes Proust writing “Fin” at the end of his sprawling opus. A complementary exhibit honors Proust's friend and pen pal, the aristocrat and accomplished poet Anna de Noailles.

Until 10 April, www.carnavalet.paris.fr









Queens for a day

The all-volunteer, grassroots revivalists behind the pre-Lenten Carnaval de Paris street parade also sponsor a madcap "Carnaval des Femmes" midway through Lent. This quaint, medieval custom honoring "the queens of the washerwomen" calls for women to dress up as princesses and for men to dress up... as women (though organizers are quick to add that any old costume will do). Hopes are high that revelers can return to the streets this year, donning wigs, crowns, scepters, and dancing shoes, and sashaying along to the beats of the energetic, all-female batucada band.

Sunday 27 March, carnaval-des-femmes.org




Celebrating women's (pre)history

March is women's history month: why not stretch it all the way back to prehistory, and salute our distant foremothers? "Lady Sapiens," a virtual-reality experience inspired by the eye-opening (and somewhat controversial) French book and TV documentary of the same name, aims to "break Paleolithic stereotypes," thanks to some recent and surprising scientific discoveries. Strap on V.R. goggles and glove, and travel back 30,000 years, stepping into the skin of Lady Sapiens, huntress, healer, artist, and even clan leader. Good fun, and a wonderfully provocative challenge to the male-centric depictions in old textbooks and dusty museum displays.

Until 31 July, www.mnhn.fr/fr/experience/lady-sapiens

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Hotel de la Marine: Not your average Paris monument, by Karen Marin

Sometimes we take for granted Paris’s wealth of monuments, art, and architectural treasures. But it is still mind-boggling when a building in the heart of Paris opens its doors after four years of renovation to reveal a mini-Versailles. The Hôtel de la Marine, a magnificent edifice located on the Place de la Concorde, is a wonderland for history buffs, art lovers, and fans of interior design.

Designed by Louis XV’s architect, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, the building was once the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, the establishment responsible for supplying and preserving the furniture for the royal residences in the 18th century. The key functions, under the management of an Intendant, revolved around selecting, buying, and maintaining everything from beds to chairs to tables and all the accoutrements that made a palace a home. Royal jewels, wall hangings, weapons and armor were also stored in this location.

On 13 July 1789 revolutionaries broke in and stole the weapons on display in the arms room. The next day, they stormed the Bastille in search of ammunition, and, voilà, the French Revolution was underway. In 1793 this 550-room palace was a silent witness to the executions of both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, which occurred just outside its windows, in the Place de la Concorde.

France’s Naval Ministry officially made the building its headquarters in 1798, changing its name to the Hôtel de la Marine. Over the next two centuries, the Navy remodeled the space to meet its needs: rooms were divided up to create offices, reception spaces were modified, and eventually accommodated modern conveniences and technology like elevators and telephones.

In 2015, the French government decided to consolidate all of the French military headquarters at a single site, the Hexagon at Ballard in the 15th arrondissement. When the Navy left the building, the Centre des Monuments Nationaux swept in and lovingly restored every inch of the building to its former glory. Gold leaf, massive chandeliers, luxurious wood paneling, and parquet are just some of the design elements that reign throughout. The marble floors and staircase are polished and buffed to perfection, and the loggia off the current VIP lounge offers a stunning vista of the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, and the Eiffel Tower.

Visiting can be a totally immersive experience via Confidant, the connected headset that brings the story of the monument to life. As the visitor strolls through grand reception rooms, elegant apartments, small chambers, and private spaces, the audio guide narrates behind-the-scenes stories of the people who had lived in the building. We walk along in the (audible) footsteps of the Intendant, his wife and servants as we listen to the details of their daily life in each room, all restored to their original 18th century splendor. Take a moment to pause in the Salon diplomatique, and take note of the huge desk where the act to abolish slavery was signed in 1848.

Be sure to visit the Treasures of the Al Thani Collection, which showcases roughly 120 objets and artworks from all over the world, dating back to ancient times. The Al Thani are the ruling family of Qatar who donated generously to the renovation of this amazing monument. If you need a pick-me-up, the Café Laperouse offers casual sustenance, while the Restaurant Mimosa proposes a gastronomic encounter.

The Hôtel de la Marine is the new “must-see” attraction in Paris. For more information and to reserve tickets online, visit: www.hotel-de-la-marine.paris/en. All visitors must present a pass sanitaire.


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Ilya and the icon, by Chandra Laizeau

This icon was created by Chandra’s son, Raphaël Laizeau, in the traditional icon-painting technique, during an icon-painting internship in Vézelay during Lent

Last year, the Spire solicited short stories from ACP's Writing Group, and published one in the February 2021 edition. This story is relevant for Lent, and so we are publishing it now, with permission from the author.


Ilya stomped his heavy boots on the steps of the mansion, leaving behind filthy sludge. The ice had thawed days earlier as winter reluctantly wept into spring, unveiling the ugly reality hidden beneath. He hated this time of year. The bitter-cold wind made its way under his threadbare coat. He gave a resigned sigh. It would be months before spring flowers would do their trick and fool them all again.

Ilya had only been in his uncle's house once before, years ago. He had vowed never to return. He scanned the ornate door, the brass lion knocker grinning fiercely. Just as he reached his hand up to the knocker, the door opened. A servant dressed in black gestured for him to enter. After ushering him into a dimly-lit drawing room, the man left Ilya without a word.

When the solicitor had informed him of the bequest, Ilya had scoffed cynically. “Stingy in life, stingy in death.” Now, he scowled at the cold and imposing fireplace, “What a waste of time.” His thoughts were interrupted as a door on the right opened and in walked the solicitor. He carried a small rectangular package wrapped in brown paper, approximately a foot in height and eight inches wide. “As per instructions of your uncle's will, that bequeathed to you this icon.” he said, handing it to Ilya. “Icon?” repeated Ilya, incredulous. “Yes, icon.” the solicitor confirmed. “I must leave you now. Georgi will see you out.”

On the other side of town, Ilya's home was more shack than house. Pushing open the door, he stepped into the cold, dank interior. Ilya hadn't had money for firewood for several days. He sat down in a lone armchair facing an empty fireplace and began untying the twine on the package.

With a rip of paper, the face of Jesus stared out at him: elongated nose, long scraggly hair and beard, small mouth, large brown eyes. The face was encircled with a red halo. “Not even gold-plated,” grumbled Ilya, “Nothing but wood.” He had an idea. “Why not burn it for fire? The thick, heavy wood should keep a steady ember for most of the night. Might as well be of some use.” With this, Ilya crumpled up the brown paper, took some twigs and kindling, and laid them in a crisscross pattern like an altar in the firebox. He placed the icon on top and grabbed some matches.

He struck a match, moving it toward the kindling. It went out. He struck a second match. It went out. A third match. Same fate. He stuck his head into the firebox looking up the chimney. Where was the draft coming from? As he pulled his head out of the fireplace he came face to face with the Jesus on the icon, the eyes watching him intently. “Don't look at me like that!” he growled, “I know you're not real.” He struck another match, this time careful to cup his hand around the flame until it reached the kindling. Once again, the flame died. Over and over, Ilya lit one match after another, only to have them fizzle out. He collapsed back in the armchair and stared at the icon.

“What do you want from me?” he shouted. The face of Jesus remained unchanged.

Just then, Ilya noticed something strange. The room was completely warm. He held his hands out toward the fireplace. It was unmistakable: the icon was heating the whole room. He pulled the icon out of the fireplace. Warm to touch, the icon cast a soft glow throughout the room. Ilya placed it on a shelf in a corner, the icon corner, which had been empty for years.

Contemplating the icon, Ilya thought he saw his uncle's face. He moved closer to inspect. His father's face appeared. Closer still, his own face emerged, eyes warm and soft, a smile he barely remembered. Sitting back down in the armchair, Ilya reached into a drawer and pulled out a Bible.

Dusting it off, he began to read. The light from the icon illuminated the pages. He smiled. Spring would be early this year.

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ACP announcements

ACP Council positions opening for 2022-2023: The ACP Nominating Committee prayerfully discerns and nominates leaders to Council, to ensure the smooth running of the church. For the 2022-2023 Council year there are positions to be filled in HR, Property, Communications, Worship & Music, Christian Education, Finance/Stewardship & Development, and Council Secretary. Do you know someone from our congregation who could be a great fit for the Council? We would love to hear your suggestions at acparis.org/leadership-suggestions.

Sunday atelier concerts, weekly at 17h30, free admission:

6 March: Eric Astoul, pianist, performs works by Schubert, Chopin, Lizst

13 March: Le duo des doubles et leurs amis (oboe, basson, piano) performs Couperin, Bach, Rameau, and Girard

20 March: Robert Cassidy, pianist, performs Bach, Messiaen, Berg, Ravel, Schubert

27 March: Ensemble La Lorenzany performs “airs sacrés et musique instrumentale du baroque allemand” with works by Telemann, Bohm, Erlebach, Bernhard, et Monn

All-congregation meeting, Sunday 27 March: Mark your calendars and keep an eye on the website for more details!

Deepening Our Faith: Continuing on Wednesdays, 2 and 16 February, 16 and 23 March, from 19h30-21h, via Zoom. Whether you’re new to Christianity or wanting to refresh your faith, this program offers you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of what we believe as a Christian community. You don’t have to attend all of the sessions. Feel free to join when you are able. Register at acparis.org/signups.

Be the Bridge book study: Continuing on Wednesdays, 9 and 23 February, and 9 March, from 19h30-21h, via Zoom. A congregational conversation on race, healing, and communication, based on the book Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation, by Latasha Morrison. Register at acparis.org/signups.

ACP Café: 12 March at 19h30. Alexia Rabé will lead this special first ACP Café of 2022. Save the date for a wonderful evening of music and fellowship.

Small miracles in the time of coronavirus: What does pilgrimage mean to you? 30 March at 19h30 on Zoom. A slideshow and discussion with long-time ACP members Karen Albrecht and Barbara Yème. The impossibility of international travel during the Covid-19 crisis has brought many disappointments, but also opportunities to discover nearby destinations with new eyes. Join us for a 35-minute slideshow describing one particular adventure, and a discussion about the meaning of pilgrimage. Register for Zoom details at acparis.org/signups. 

Women’s Pilgrimage Walk: A small group will walk from Chartres to Vendôme from 3-8 June on a pilgrimage. We hope this will be a unique opportunity to delve into challenging issues regarding one’s relationship with God, personal relationships, love and living life abundantly. Because space is limited, those interested should request a registration questionnaire as soon as possible from Caroline Cuozzi at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

ACP Movie Discussion Group - Thursday, 17 March, at 19h30, via Zoom and possibly in ACP room G2
Films to see on Netflix: The Tinder Swindler, Against the Ice, Fighting with My Family
Films to see in the cinema: Maigret, Compagnons, Belfast, Goliath
For more info or Zoom invitation: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ACP Today radio shows in March

Monday 7 March: Alison Benney and Natalie Raynal celebrate International Women’s Day.

Monday 21 March: Amit Pieters and Don Lee explore the meanings of the Annunciation, spring, and St. Clemence Day.

Listen in directly at http://frequenceprotestante.com/ecouter-en-direct or at your convenience at www.acparis.org.

Generosity Campaign for 2022 Giving: Did you miss Commitment Sunday? No worries, you can still make your 2022 giving commitment online at acparis.org/estimatedgiving2022. Thanks for your support as we continue to rebuild and renovate the post-pandemic church!

Looking for a volunteer opportunity? Here is a partial list:

15 March – Thurber conversation: We need 4 volunteers to help with set up and cooking (arrival time of 17h30) and 2 volunteers for cleanup (arrival at 19h30 to eat dinner and then clean up at 20h15). If you want to volunteer to be chef with us, now is your chance!
27 March – Congregational meeting: This meeting will occur after the combined 11h service.  We need about 8 volunteers to help with making lunch boxes and passing them out. We will also set up a water carafe self service station in the theater or chapel.

Let's welcome newcomers! If you have a desire to contribute to a warm and hospitable welcome for newcomers at ACP, please consider volunteering at our welcome table. We are rebuilding this ministry and are happy to find more table hosts for after the 11h and 14h worship services. Contact Pastor Jodi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you'd like to volunteer.

New Creation Care team at ACP: This committee focuses on one of the church’s core values, creation care. The Creation Care Task Force works closely with Council leaders, who asked the team first to calculate ACP’s carbon footprint. To learn more about how you can determine your own footprint, see footprintr.me . Contact the team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

100 Nights of Welcome: We are hosting refugee gentlemen at ACP this winter, providing them with food and a warm place to sleep for the night. If you would like to help with this ministry, please contact Daniel Tostado at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our wonderful new audio-visual system is in place! If you’d like to be a part of our worship tech and A/V team, please contact us at avmThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tech help needed for 14h service: Calling all techies! If you are interested, please contact Natalie Raynal at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Mission Outreach Committee has a need for 2 to 4 new committee members. If you are mission minded and would like to serve alongside our mission partners, please contact Mary Hovind of the nominating committee: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Volunteer Editor for The Spire: ACP's thriving monthly magazine The Spire is looking for a volunteer editor-in-chief. The ideal candidate or team is skilled at content planning, text layout, photo-editing, graphics design, copy-editing, and proofreading. The position requires a native English speaker with a good grasp of French, excellent writing skills, good interpersonal skills, and sharp attention to detail. Interested? Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Post-Pandemic Me: Helpful resources can be found at acparis.org/post-pandemic-me

Daylight Savings Time in Europe: Turn your clock back on 27 March.

Sunday Worship

Traditional Worship is in the Sanctuary at 11h, and is livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube (see acparis.org for links).

Contemporary Worship is in the Sanctuary at 14h.

A "Pass Vaccinal" or proof of a negative test less than 24 hours old is required for worship services at ACP.

Register here: https://acparis.churchcenter.com/registrations/events

For more announcements, please see www.acparis.org, or the weekly ACP Church Bulletin posted online for each worship service at acparis.org/announcements.

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