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

Editor: Alison Benney

 

In this issue

Doorways and Dreams, by Reverend Paul Rock, Senior Pastor

Different together, by Rev. Allison Wheeler, Children’s Ministry Director

ACP's annual Vacation Bible School

Collective effervescence, by Rev. Don Lee, Visiting Pastor

Expanding horizons: Journey and learn with Dr. Reggie Williams

Congregational meeting on 22 May, follow-up

World Refugee Day: Reflections on a human right, by Rebecca Brite

A case for perseverance: The Cameroonian Presbyterian Church, by Ursula Perrier

What’s up in Paris, by Karen Albrecht

Called by God, Stories of faith edited by Tom Johnson

Bloom Where You’re Planted, by Marie Grout

Gaudi: Genius or madman? by Karen Marin

The ACP Writers’ Group remembers Wilson Tede Silva, by Tendayi O. Chirawu

Young Adults Group calendar

Announcements

Sunday Concert Series


Doorways and Dreams, by Reverend Paul Rock, Senior Pastor

Liminality is one of those words you spend thousands of dollars to learn in graduate school. So I’ll save you some money. It means threshold. It’s an anthropological term used to describe a person or group moving from one significant phase of life to another. In existential terms it means leaving where you were, but not yet being where you will be. In short, liminal spaces typically aren’t a lot of fun. But, as with most un-fun seasons, if we share them and handle them with grace, patience, and prayer, they teach us lessons and new ways of being we never would have known if we’d remained where we’d been. 

But I still don’t like them. Many ancient cultures have understood liminal seasons as holy; painful and uncomfortable, but holy. So, it’s understandable that we usually do anything we can to avoid them. When thrust upon us, we just try to sprint through them. Because if we have to leave one known thing, season or space and travel to the next, we want to get there quickly - so we can know where we are, what to do and how it will all work. 

But the problem is, the maps and rules that worked in one phase of life, don’t work as well in the next. So staying in the doorway, remaining in the threshold until you can catch your breath and recalibrate, is a challenging, yet wise thing to do. But again, it’s not easy, so we dash ahead or we do our darndest to move back into the old setting.

Jesus knows we don’t like these seasons, these painful times of change. And that’s why Jesus draws close to his followers when they confront the disequilibrium of life transitions. He knows that in such times we feel both frightened and lost. And so, as our shepherd, he gathers us in and reminds us of his strength and presence and walks with us. When he appeared to his disciples after his death and resurrection, he said “Do not be afraid,” and told them he was sending them into the world to make disciples. He also breathed upon them his Spirit and assured them he would be with them every step of the way. 

At Pentecost, when Christ’s spirit fell on the gathered believers, Peter stood up and said, “Do not be afraid” and tried to explain to them this new thing God was doing. In quoting the prophet Joel, he told the confused disciples that the Spirit was being poured out and that “Your older ones will see visions and the young will dream dreams.” 

I’ve found Peter’s admonition helpful as I’ve endured difficult seasons of loss, change, and newness in my life. Rather than deny or run away, I’ve found if I can just sit long enough in the uncomfortability of liminality and remember that the Spirit is not behind me but with me and in me… Then I cannot be afraid. Then I can begin to dream and envision about what might be, rather than be upset about what was, knowing that Christ is holding me and that I’ll never walk alone. 

Even though in the midst of them, thresholds feel like they’re forever, they aren’t. And if we share them and endure them as best we can, they are a gift. It’s okay to feel a bit lost and upset. You’re not crazy and you’re not alone. Buoyed by each other’s faith, held by God’s love, we will endure. And the new season, the new lesson, the new thing will emerge and all will be well. Until then, be gracious with yourself and others, find times to dream, and follow the Spirit.

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Different together, by Rev. Allison Wheeler, Children’s Ministry Director

Excerpt from the sermon on 22 May, as part of the series “Different Together.” The gospel reading is Mark 5:1-20.

In our gospel text, we are introduced to a man who has been making his home in a truly harrowing place: in the tombs that lie outside of his hometown, away from the presence and support of family, friends, and all who knew him. This man is there because he is suffering from the motherlode of all demon possessions, by “legion,” or many thousands. This is manifested mostly through self-harm and loud vocalizations: he would “cry out night and day and cut himself with stones.”

It is not hard to see why parallels have been drawn between this man and people who live with mental illness, and also to people with certain disabilities. Some people who suffer from serious mental illness have described their experiences as being taken over by an outside force so that they become unrecognizable to themselves. And people whose illness or disability cause them to sometimes behave in ways that are “a disturbance” within “orderly communities” can find themselves met with suspicion and even ostracization.

But mental illness itself is not a manifestation of evil, and those who live with mental illness and other disabilities are certainly in no way responsible for these conditions.

The many different ways that our brains and our bodies function is one layer of the diversity among us. We give thanks to God for that diversity! So, in this season when we as a community of faith are in dialogue about the multitudes of ways that we are “different together,” this afflicted man should certainly be of interest to us.

Now, his story takes place 2,000 years ago, in a world before talk therapy, support groups, psychiatrists, and psychotropics. And yet, how far have we come as communities in responding to people in the throes of crisis?

It is true that sometimes people act in unsafe ways that warrant a response in which firm boundaries must be drawn, and which sometimes can necessitate their removal from a particular community. That sadly does happen. But it also happens that the line between “dangerous” and “different” often gets blurred, that what is decided to be too much for a particular community to bear is not due to a real risk of danger but to a lack of understanding, and a resistance to accept and to accommodate.

Photo: © scpeanutgallery.comJust one example of this is the fact that children with disabilities of all kinds throughout the world are twice as likely to be excluded from school as non-disabled children. Thousands of disabled children in France alone are offered only part-time placement in school, placed in an environment that lacks appropriate educational support, or denied a place altogether, leaving these children and their families at huge disadvantages.

Adults living with mental illness are less likely to find and retain paid employment, and those who do work consistently earn less than workers without mental illness. And people experiencing homelessness overwhelmingly report challenges with their mental health.

Education, employment, and safe housing – all standards of recognition for full membership in our society - are less accessible to folks contending with these issues. Just like the Gerasene demoniac, people who live with mental illness and with disabilities are too often forced to make their homes in places of isolation and danger.

But whatever a person’s journey ends up looking like, one of the first real steps away from suffering is to name what is afflicting them. The man from Mark’s story naming his demon aloud to Jesus represents a powerful move toward healing.

Furthermore, caring for those in our communities does demand sacrifice; it does not come without cost. If caring for those in need was widely considered a priority worthy of investment, then possibilities for caring abound: the next time a concerned citizen saw someone behaving unusually in the street, instead of calling the police, they could call a mobile mental health crisis response unit. Imagine all of the stories that would have had a different ending if this kind of service were more widely available.

And maybe thousands of children could receive an appropriate education if more teachers were properly trained to accommodate children with different disabilities, and if classroom aides were properly recruited and compensated.

But all of this would require sacrifice, and yes, investment. When it comes to making a choice between conserving economic resources, leaving our own lives and habits unaltered, and the choice to spend money and make changes for the well-being of “those kinds of people,” it seems that very often the response is, Well, after all, what’s so bad about the tombs?

Friends, we know the truth: that each and every human being was made in God’s image, and that every human being is valuable beyond calculation. Jesus Christ did not conquer death only for us to consign our kin to the tomb that he left behind. This man that Jesus healed, he had a small taste of this; from his experience with Jesus, he knew that he was with someone who would and could bring people out of death and into life. He begged to go with Jesus.

But Jesus told the man “No.” And then, Jesus encouraged this man to, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Jesus not only healed this man from what had been tormenting him, but he then empowered him to claim and to tell his story. And that is just what the man did: he left Gerasene behind and traveled through all 10 cities of the Decapolis proclaiming what God had done for him.

As much as we may long to “fix” that which causes suffering in our kin, we cannot heal with the same power with which Christ healed. But that does not mean that we cannot play a part in someone’s healing, and that we cannot seek our own. We may not be able to decisively exorcise legions, but we can strive to offer true and authentic welcome. We can name aloud our own demons. We can testify. We can listen, and we can receive.

When given the sacred gift of one another’s stories, we can all be open to amazement. And if we are not listened to or welcomed in the place where we are, then Christ frees us to unburden ourselves from guilt and shame and move out into the world, sharing our stories and widening the circle of “our own people” as we make and remake home along the way, always with the love and assurance of the One who takes us out of death and into life.

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ACP's annual Vacation Bible School

Monday to Thursday, 22-25 August

Using crafts, storytelling, active games, music, and more, children will explore the theme "Spark Studios: Creativity from the Creator": "Get those creative juices flowing at Spark Studios where imagination is ignited and creativity is awakened where kids will learn, like King David, to use their talents to bring glory to God. They will discover that their creativity is a gift from the infinitely creative Creator who designed them for His glory." Register children at acparis.org/vbs2022.

We need many, many adult volunteers to join us in leading this fantastic, fun, four-day program, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you'd like to join the team!

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Collective effervescence, by Rev. Don Lee, Visiting Pastor

Photo: © Marsha McFeeGreetings on this beautiful spring day in Paris!

Tana and I will soon be flying back to California and we want to say thank you for inviting us to be a part of the American Church in Paris. What a year it is has been and we have been so blessed to serve with a wonderful staff and a truly committed laity!

During this pandemic year, the church has had to make many adjustments as covid seemed to dissipate and then reappear in new forms. So many challenges emerged, yet the church weathered them all and actually has, in many ways, become stronger. It is amazing how with God’s help, so much can be accomplished in the building of God’s realm.

Mission projects continue to thrive, like the sandwich ministry and, during the winter, 100 Nights of Welcome. Worship remains a vital and uplifting experience, whether in person or online. The new light and sound system has brought clarity to our sanctuary experience. Our partnership with the American University students to provide aid to Ukrainian refugees has been so helpful to those who have become uprooted from their homes. Even some weddings have been performed, and new ones scheduled. Well, this list goes on and on…a sign of a vibrant church committed to the ministry of Christ in our world.

One of the aspects that makes this such a vibrant community is one that I mentioned when I first arrived: “collective effervescence.” Rather than let the times get us down, you rise up. Rather than feeling lost, you find your way. Rather than bemoan situations, you lift up the joy of Christ.

In a few days, Dan and Fran Michalak will arrive to join you in ministry. They are “old hands” at ACP and I know you will warmly welcome them as Dan takes up the role of Visiting Pastor.

With God’s help – that’s how we navigate our world…that’s how Christ’s ministry thrives…that’s how we are blessed to be a blessing!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Don Lee & Pastor Tana McDonald

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Expanding horizons: Journey and learn with Dr. Reggie Williams

Dr. Reggie Williams, our Resident Pastoral Scholar, is providing a couple of exciting opportunities to take our studies to the city streets. One focuses on the history of Black Paris, the other on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident. Register at acparis.org/signups.

Tour (and attendant lectures) of Black Paris

Zoom lecture on 16 June.

Saturday 11 June 13h30-15h30: Walking Tour of Black Paris (coinciding with beginning of "Ubuntu" sermon series), with a picnic or other fellowship event.

Thursday 16 June, 19h30-21h: Zoom lecture with Reggie: follow-up to Walking Tour, and segueing into the Bonhoeffer series.

View the 19 May and 9 June lectures at acparis.org/thurber-archives.

Bonhoeffer lectures

Thursday 23 June, 19h30-21h: Zoom lecture with Reggie

Thursday 30 June, 19h30-21h: Zoom lecture with Reggie

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Congregational meeting on 22 May, follow-up

Not only did we Mind Our Gap, we flew over it!

As we reported at the Congregational Meeting on 22 May, our goal of raising €41k to pass a balanced budget for 2022 was more than met in the last few days of this campaign. You all ended up giving €68.4k. Thank you, ACP Family! We can now navigate the second half of 2022 with financial confidence, and we’ll be even better prepared for 2023 and the opportunities it brings. Praise be to God!

Music Ministries Discernment, following up on discussions at the ACP Congregational Meeting on 22 May.
In light of Fred Gramann's retirement at the end of September, announced and discussed at the Congregational Meeting in May, the Council has created a form on the ACP website to facilitate further conversations. The aim is to air and listen to ideas and feedback, and to discern the future of ACP's music ministries. This conversation, to take place over the next several months, is being kicked off with discussions with our choirs and other musicians.

Your input is welcome and encouraged at acparis.org/music-ministries-discernment. All input will be compiled and shared with the Council, and a timely response sent to each of your questions and comments. Don't worry if your comments seem to run together on the form; they will be properly formatted when received.

The ACP 2022-2023 Council
Voted in at the Congregational Meeting on 22 May 2022.

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World Refugee Day: Reflections on a human right, by Rebecca Brite

The international celebration of World Refugee Day, held annually on 20 June, focuses this year on a fundamental human right: the right to seek safety.

With 2022 being marked by the Ukrainian refugee crisis – nearly 7 million people fleeing across borders since the Russian invasion in February, not to mention 8 million displaced internally – it has been too easy to forget that this century has also seen 6.7 million fleeing Syria, 6 million leaving Venezuela and upwards of a million each displaced from Myanmar and Somalia.

Coordinating the world’s response to these huge movements of people is the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also known as the UN Refugee Agency, founded in 1950 in the aftermath of World War II, which saw a record 40–60 million flee their countries.

WWII also provided the impetus for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drawn up by the UN Commission on Human Rights under its first chair, Eleanor Roosevelt. The 58 countries that formed the fledgling United Nations passed the declaration in 1948 in Paris, with a few abstentions.

Article 14 begins: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Inspired by the ancient right to sanctuary, this is the foundation of modern refugee policy.

Three years later, the non-binding declaration was followed by an international legal instrument, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Originally intended to apply just to WWII refugees, it was extended to all in a 1967 protocol. Of today’s 193 UN member countries, 146 are parties to the convention, the protocol or both.

“Every person on this planet has a right to seek safety – whoever they are, wherever they come from and whenever they are forced to flee,” UNHCR proclaimed ahead of this year’s World Refugee Day.

Even as the Ukrainian war continues its upheavals, let us also remember those displaced by earlier 21st century conflicts. In addition to the ACP-promoted actions aimed at Ukrainian refugees (on the acparis.org website, scroll down to “The European Refugee crisis continues”), UNHCR recommends the following groups aiding refugees more generally in France (adapted from the UNHCR France website):

Cimade has defended the rights of refugees and migrants since 1939. In addition to working in administrative detention centers and prisons, Cimade collaborates with UNHCR to conduct advocacy campaigns and to raise public awareness about the realities of migration. www.lacimade.org

Comede, founded in 1979, promotes health, access to care and integration of refugees. Over its history, through the reception, support and overall care of more than 100,000 people of 150 nationalities, Comede has developed unparalleled expertise in health and access to care for refugees in France. www.comede.org

Forum Réfugiés-Cosi runs reception and orientation centers and provides accommodation and integration programs for asylum seekers, refugees and unaccompanied foreign minors. It also provides medical consultations for refugees who have suffered persecution and torture. In addition, it trains professionals and volunteers to work with asylum seekers and refugees, and provides advocacy and awareness-raising activities for the general public. www.forumrefugies.org

France Terre d'asile, founded in 1970, carries out missions covering the whole process to which refugees and stateless people are subject – from reception, support and accommodation to integration in French society, including social and administrative assistance. It also takes care of unaccompanied foreign minors. It is very active in Calais, temporary home to nearly 6,000 migrants. www.france-terre-asile.org

Catholic Relief Services (Secours Catholique) has worked in France since 1946 and today has some 4,000 local teams tackling the causes of poverty, inequality and exclusion. It calls on the public, and public authorities, to propose sustainable solutions. Focused on ensuring the participation of the people it supports and strengthening everyone's capacity to act together, Secours Catholique is the French member of the worldwide Caritas Internationalis network, which provides support in more than 70 countries and territories. www.secours-catholique.org

SINGA, founded in 2012, provides spaces for dialogue and encounters, facilitates integration of refugees and supports their development of professional and entrepreneurial projects. Its “Comme à la maison” (Like Home) program allows individuals to house a refugee, using a platform where 12,000 accommodation proposals have been registered since 2015. UNHCR is partnering with Singa to run awareness campaigns, notably on 20 June, on the occasion of the World Refugee Day celebrations. singafrance.com

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A case for perseverance: The Cameroonian Presbyterian Church, by Ursula Perrier

I’d like to tell you a beautiful story of perseverance that has a very happy ending. It’s about the Cameroonian Presbyterian Church, whose members on 22 May 2022 finally and gloriously dedicated their completed church building to God, 27 years after the project began.

In 1995, the Cameroonian government started to develop the area in the north of Douala, the largest town in Cameroon. Many parishioners moved to that area, but it was far away from the Presbyterian Church in the center of Douala where they had been attending. At first these church members met to worship in a lycée. But when that was no longer possible, one parishioner opened her house and yard to the church for worship. So numerous were they, that they often spilled out onto the street. So, they moved into an auditorium.

Meanwhile, several church members collected money and took out a loan to buy the land to build a church. They organized fundraisers every trimester. Although money came in slowly because most of the parishioners are poor, they managed to put down the foundation of the church.

Then in 1998, one of the leaders of the church project approached the American Church in Paris, to see if we would be willing to contribute. And we were. We had two criteria.

  • We wanted the donations to have an impact, to be meaningful.
  • We did not want our modest donation to be swallowed up by costs other than for the building project itself.

ACP contributed for three years, until our church ran into financial difficulty and we could no longer contribute. But in 2007, we continued our partnership with the church in Cameroon and maintained our support until 2018.

I read that “mission” is all about relationships. It is not only about programs, and distributing money wisely; it is mainly about exchange and travelling a road together, moving beyond ourselves.

I and several members of ACP have had the privilege of establishing a relationship with Mme Ebene, one of the leaders of the construction project. In 2010, she and her family worshipped here at ACP regularly. She once commented while looking around at our church at how beautiful it was, and how she hoped that one day her parish would be able to honor God in such beautiful surroundings. She, along with the members of her church, had a vision and held fast to it through thick and through thin for over 27 years.

Throughout the many years, ACP’S donation (about €20,000) contributed to the construction of the church building. But I would like to draw attention to the spiritual meaning of our donation. It is about following God and supporting God’s people in Cameroon to do his work. Hearing about a new roof or a floor was never exactly exciting for our congregation, but it was a tangible way of participating in God’s work.

Given the huge expense of building a church, ACP was only able to contribute a small percentage of the total cost. What we contributed, nonetheless, was of great importance. Not only did it give a boost to the arduous Cameroonian fundraising process, but it also demonstrated our support for this project, encouraging the Cameroonian church members to persevere. Isn’t that a good example of the “communion of saints” and of what we mean by the universal church?

Finally, after 27 years, the foundation is laid, the walls are up, the roof is on, the floor is in place, the windows installed, the pulpit is sculpted, the pews are fixed, the doors are open: the church is completed!

The community celebrated this accomplishment over three days of praise and worship, with over 2,000 people in the community participating in the festivities, and over 50 ministers who attended the dedication service.

The congregation in Cameroon is grateful to God for this church. They are so appreciative of the American Church in Paris for our support. And I am moved by this joy and their gratitude. Yes, “mission” is indeed about relationship.

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What’s up in Paris, by Karen Albrecht

Photo: © Grisebach GmbHObjectively speaking

The Centre Pompidou is hosting France's first-ever major show dedicated to the "New Objectivity" movement that flourished under the Weimar Republic in Germany during the late 1920s, with nearly 900 works and documents on display. Photographs from August Sander's "People of the 20th Century" series figure alongside the unsparingly detailed yet oddly distorted paintings by Otto Dix and other artists of the period. The mix of media creates a strong sense of the very peculiar zeitgeist just before the rise of the Nazis, who would savagely condemn this art as "degenerate".
Until 5 September, www.centrepompidou.fr

 


Photo: © Thierry DanielLife begins (again) at 40
France's Fête de la Musique was created in 1982 as an entirely free event that treated all musical genres equally. On the longest day of every year, the Fête gives musicians both professional and amateur, and music lovers of all ages, a chance to party late into the night, to the tune of an incredible smorgasbord of musical styles. Necessarily subdued for the past two years, this year's festival comes back into its own for a cacophonous 40th-birthday celebration, with music ringing from public buildings, restaurants, and corner cafés across Paris (and France).
Fête de la musique, 21 June, fetedelamusique.culture.gouv.fr 


Photo: © BricedelamarcheProud...and loud
After two years of covid restrictions, this year's LGBTQI+ Pride March promises to be especially exuberant, with floats, sound systems, and dancers parading down a route through Paris that will be announced online a few days ahead. And Solidays, the huge, annual outdoor music extravaganza dedicated to the worldwide fight against HIV-AIDS, will pump up the volume under the stirring theme "Love is Back," with top French and international acts, including Black Eyed Peas, French rapper OrelSan, poetic neo-chansonnier Eddy di Pretto, and singer-dancer Suzane.
Marche des Fiertés, 25 June, www.inter-lgbt.org  
Solidays, 24, 25 and 26 June,
www.solidays.org


Photo: © Mardi8 / Sensory Odyssey / MNHNSensory overload
The "Sensory Odyssey" is entering its final month at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. It marshals all the considerable power of the latest digital technology to immerse visitors in eight ultra-high-definition displays, from the leafy canopy atop a tropical rainforest, to the African savannah, a coral reef, and the Artic ice cap, complete with sounds and even smells, and all showcasing the many plant and animal species these habitats harbor. Then come down to earth via more traditional displays, with details on the species encountered during your virtual whirlwind tour of the planet's most spectacular ecosystems.
Until 4 July, www.mnhn.fr


Photo: © J.HelaineInflationary spiral
What could be more uplifting than an entire show dedicated to giant, inflatable art? "Pop Air," created in conjunction with Rome's Balloon Museum, has filled the 5,000 square-meter Grande Halle de La Villette with living proof that inflation can be a good thing: a wonderfully wiggly series of humongous, inflatable fish entitled "Cupid's Koi Garden", a giggly dive into a gigantic, balloon-filled bubble bath, and even an inflatable orb covered with markers, that visitors can bat around to create artful squiggles left, right and center. Up, up and away!
Until 21 August, lavillette.com/programmation/pop-air_e1373 


Photo: © M. Denancé / Musée de ClunyMiddle-Age spread

Housed in a 15th-century abbey atop the ruins of Gallo-Roman thermal baths, the Musée de Cluny has long straddled many centuries. It now stretches all the way into the 21st, reopening after eleven years of renovations, with a shiny new pavilion overlooking the partially restored baths. Dedicated to the art of the Middle Ages, the museum boasts original artefacts from Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, and the Saint-Denis basilica, plus the renowned "The Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries, depicting the five senses plus an enigmatic sixth that has been puzzling viewers ever since the 1500s.

Musée de Cluny, www.musee-moyenage.fr

 

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Called by God, Stories of faith edited by Tom Johnson

We come to the ACP to be together, sing together, pray together, because we are somehow called by God to be here. We are called from different places at different stages in our lives for different reasons and in very different ways, but each of us is called, and each of us has a story.

Tom Johnson

I grew up in a Methodist family in Colorado and went to church regularly without thinking much about why. At 17, when I left the house, religion began to seem a bit superstitious and unnecessary and I became curious about Zen, astrology, other mystical practices, and all kinds of philosophy. For about 20 years I never entered churches.

That was fine until a mid-life crisis left me feeling lonely and abandoned. I needed something, but I didn’t know what. Once again, I began to enter churches and open the bible, but after so many years of agnosticism, none of this was very meaningful. This transition period lasted two or three years, and I sometimes had emotional experiences that were perhaps religious, but I didn’t find any serious answers until I started reading serious theology, particularly that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer’s most important book for me was Nachfolge (Following), and particularly the chapter called Der Ruf (the call). Here the author begins about the way any pastor would begin, by observing how Christ called the fishermen to become disciples. But it soon goes deeper, with a subtle German intellect, and after a few pages I could feel that the text was talking directly to me. But the talking came not only from Bonhoeffer. I could hear the voice of God himself behind the words.

This was a true call, and a year or so later I decided to sign up for the week-long meeting in Amsterdam of the International Bonhoeffer Society, and this experience stimulated me to compose my Bonhoeffer Oratorio. This two-hour work was premiered in Maastricht in 1996, and the Berlin performance of 1998 became the CDs that one can find downstairs in the ACP media center.

Patti Lafage

Growing up in a church-going family, I enjoyed singing in the choir, helping in the nursery, and attending youth group activities all through high school. Confirmation classes were enlightening and meaningful to me on an intellectual level. Beyond a quick “grace” said before meals, faith was never discussed in the family.

At about age 18 I “disbelieved.” I turned my back on God, then didn’t enter a church for decades. I married a self-proclaimed atheist and thought of myself as agnostic.

But God clearly treated me as a beloved lost sheep. At a time when I thought I needed “something fun to do,” He put a poster for a gospel concert outside my office building in Neuilly. I went, alone, and was thrilled when God spoke to me through the words, the music, the warm memories attached to those old songs. I joined the amateur choir of that group, and began to truly “hear” the messages of the songs.

A few years later, in 2003, sitting alone on the quai in front of ACP, I saw an American-style bridal party and went over to see what that place was. Another poster: “Recruiting for the ACP Adult Choir.” I went. Again, God spoke to me through the liturgy, the warmth of ACP members, choir members, the words and messages of the songs. 

My faith grew by baby steps then by leaps. I was joyous, transformed, moved into a new dimension of life – a life of faith. Sermons, small group Bible and book studies, new members’ class, official membership. Children’s worship leader, VBS, Friday mission lunch, cooking in the ACP kitchen….

But God was not done with me. Another poster…one that led to 8 ½ years as a missionary in Africa. But that is another story.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted, by Marie Grout

Bloom Where You’re Planted
Saturday 8 October 2022
9h-16h, at the American Church of Paris

Register now for Earlybird pricing - https://bloom.acparis.org
More info at bloom.acparis.org

Tickets can be purchased online until 28 September

Bloom Where You’re Planted is the premier welcome and orientation program for a rich and meaningful life in Paris. The event is designed to offer valuable information and connection for both newcomers to Paris, and our English-speaking residents. We hope the Bloom experience will enhance your life in Paris.

We are so excited to meet in person again!
What can you expect at the Bloom event?
Welcome to Bloom at the American Church in Paris!
Registration begins with Welcome Coffee & Croissants
Exhibit Halls are open the whole day
Meet over 50 social, service and business organizations
Enjoy a delicious lunch
Network with fellow participants and exhibitors
Informative presentations and conversation groups throughout the day
Author book signings
Take your time to make new friends
Reconnect with friends you haven’t seen for awhile

Children (ages 4 - 12) will participate in a wonderful age-appropriate program filled with activities to help them acclimate to their new home. They will play French games and learn some French culture and language. We also provide nursery childcare for our youngest participants up to three years of age.

Register now for Earlybird pricing - https://bloom.acparis.org
Tickets can be purchased on-line until 28 September 2022

The American Church in Paris,  65 Quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris

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Gaudi: Genius or madman? by Karen Marin

While Antoni Gaudi is best known as the architect of Barcelona’s mammoth – and still unfinished – Art Nouveau cathedral Sagrada Familia, he was also a visionary artist and trailblazer, recognized for his use of space and color. Gaudi, the special exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay, is the first major retrospective in France in 50 years dedicated to this artist, who was considered by many to be both a genius and a madman.

Gaudi remains a bit of an enigma, since much of his archive was destroyed by a fire in his workshop in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. He had set up a cavernous atelier adjacent to the Sagrada Familia, where he lived and worked for many years. Luckily, photos taken shortly after his death in 1926 still exist, making it possible to reconstruct the workshop.

A short film guides the visitor through a virtual tour of Gaudi’s work space. For instance, as Gaudi created Biblical scenes for the façade of the cathedral, there are plaster casts that cover the walls. He often walked the streets to find real people to use as models, as seen in a series of photos. This immersive experience, including manuscripts, photographs, documents, and drawings, allow the viewer insights into Gaudi’s creative process.

Although Gaudi began with a traditional education, he pursued his studies in architecture at the Provincial School of Architecture in Barcelona, where he mastered drawing and a taste for color. When he graduated in 1878, the director allegedly declared on handing him his degree certificate: “He is either a genius or a madman.” Gaudi sought paid employment immediately after graduating, and quickly found work as an assistant to various architects. These were his formative years, during which he developed his unique style of incorporating gothic and Moorish elements along with Art Nouveau, the hot trend of the late 19th century.

His career blossomed at a time of social and political upheaval in Catalonia, and a boom of urban expansion in Barcelona. Gaudi came into contact with wealthy clients who commissioned him to create palaces, parks, and elaborate casas. He created a type of structure known as “equilibrated,” which was able to stand alone without internal support or external buttresses. This style was used in such iconic projects as the Casa Batlló, the Casa Milà, and the fantastical Parc Güell.

Along with architecture, Gaudi also designed massive screens, tables, chairs, and assorted eccentric furniture, some of which has never been seen before in France. The vestibule of an apartment building, along with curvilinear doorways and entries, demonstrates Gaudi’s flowing style. Of particular note is a dressing table with an angular mirror which perches precariously on spindly legs. This piece, along with intricate gates and grills that combine nature with the phantasmic, illustrates why he had a big influence on Salvador Dali, the future Surrealist. Dali returned the favor by bringing Gaudi back into the limelight decades after his death. Now referred to as a master of Catalonian Modernism, Gaudi is identified with the architectural landscape of Barcelona.

Of course, the Sagrada Familia is Gaudi’s chef d’oeuvre, even though it was only partially built when he died. Scheduled to be completed in 2026, the 100-year anniversary of Gaudi’s death, the basilica was consecrated as such by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. Gaudi is buried in the crypt.

But an exhibit can only go so far: seeing Gaudi’s projects in drawings, photographs, and models can’t compare to the experience of standing inside the Sagrada Familia as light pours in through the stained glass, or as one navigates the curving walkways of the Parc Güell. Maybe a summer trip to Gaudi’s Barcelona is in order?

Through 17 July at the Musée d’Orsay, 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris

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The ACP Writers’ Group remembers Wilson Tede Silva, by Tendayi O. Chirawu

It is with great sadness and shock that we learned of the passing of one of our early members, Wilson Silva. Silva joined the writers’ group in 2014, a time before the global health crisis when all our monthly meetings were held in-person at the American Church in Paris. He always came prepared with a pen and paper for notes.

Originally from Brazil, Wilson Silva was a filmmaker with two feature films in Brazil, and a playwright and dedicated most of his life to the performing arts. He was active on many projects and often shared the various stages of writing he was in for the projects. He was always observant, respectful, and eager to learn new things about writing in English.

Wilson spoke to me early this year about getting the writer’s group to participate in a festival, true to his nature of always being on the lookout for ways to elevate not only himself but those around him. 

Silva died on 21 April 2022, at 62 years of age, and was laid to rest at Pere Lachaise cemetery on 10 May. We are grateful to know him through our shared love of wordsmithing and crafting stories. He will be missed but not forgotten. May our God have received him with open arms. His family have set up places for donations to enable his final project to be completed.

 https://www.leetchi.com/c/un-dernier-hommage-a-wilson-da-silva-tede?utm_source=whatsapp&utm_medium=social_sharing

 https://www.dm.com.br/cotidiano/2022/04/morre-em-paris-jornalista-wilson-tadeu-intelectual-de-forte-presenca-na-comunidade-europeia/

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Young Adults Group calendar

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Announcements


Engagement Day, Saturday 4 June
Saturday 4 June, 10h-14h, at ACP
Join our mission partners and the Mission Outreach Committee for a reinvigorating day of culture and challenge. You will be informed, inspired, and activated by short TED-talk style of lectures, refugee stories, a workshop, and presentations from some of our mission partners. There will be cultural music and food. We hope you can be with us, you won't regret it!

Purchase your ticket today at the acparis.org/engagement-day, €10 for adults and €5 for students and children. That price covers the cost of food and allows a refugee to attend for free – in other words, you will be sponsoring a refugee. If you cannot come, you can make a donation. For more information write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A Prayer for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Monday 20 June

We are a community that seeks to come alongside all displaced and vulnerable people who have been forced to flee their homes and even their countries. Today's urgent crisis is in Ukraine. We hold refugees in our prayers, individually and corporately, and as in the past, actively seek shelter, clothing, and food for those in need. If you are a refugee in Paris, we invite you to join us for worship, friendship, safety, and community.

You are not alone. Jesus said, "...I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me." Matthew 25:35

Prayers and aid for the people of Ukraine: http://acparis.org/Ukraine 


In need of prayer? If you are in need of prayer, and you would like members of the lay care ministry team, members of the prayer chain, and the pastoral team to uphold you in prayer, contact them online at acparis.org/prayers.


Are you an electronic basket contactless bank card donor? Please note that the electronic offering baskets do not capture information to identify the donor. No worries, if you would like to have your electronic basket giving count toward your French tax receipt, please contact Lucy Jamin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..%20">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can arrange a moment with Lucy to capture a code that will allow us to identify your card. It's quick and easy and we'd love to help you make all your donations count.


Women's Monthly Fellowship
Sunday 12 June, 12h30 in the Thurber Room. For our final meeting this season we will hear from Patti Lafage about her work in Uganda, her call, work, and lessons.  In her words: “Eight and a half years spent serving orphans and needy women in Africa brought me joy, humility, and an ever-deeper trust in God.” All women are welcome.


Women's Monthly Bible Study
Sunday 19 June, 12h30-13h30 in room F2 (1st floor). All women are welcome to join us in a once-monthly study on women in parables! This month we discuss the wife of seven brothers. Join the Women's Monthly Bible Study Group at acparis.org/groups.


ACP Today radio shows in June

Monday 6 June: John Price hosts, spotlights music by ACP Music Director Fred Gramann, and discusses all the upcoming events at ACP.  

Monday 20 June: Alison Benney hosts, discussing World Refugee Day, Fete de la Musique, the departure of Rev. Don Lee and the arrival of Dan and Fran Michalak.

Monday 4 July: Our last show at Fréquence Protestante will feature Jorg Kaldewey and other members of the ACP radio team, discussing history and highlights of ACP Today. 

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


ACP Movie Discussion Group
Thursday, 16 June, at 19h30, via Zoom and/or in ACP room G2

Films to choose from on Netflix: The House, Me Before You, Apollo 10½, Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love;

Films to choose from in cinemas: Frère et soeur, Top Gun: Maverick, Compétition officielle

For more info or Zoom invitation: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A brief walk through Paul and John's world, by Kate Snipes
Wednesday 29 June, 19h30 on Zoom
Through pictures, scripture, and discussion of our early church, we will hear about the ground in which early Christianity was planted, geographically, politically, and socio-economically. Kate Snipes will present a brief overview of her course on the Footsteps of Paul and John, which was led by two Wesley Seminary professors, a New Testament St. Paul scholar, and a Church History professor. 

Topic: Paul's Missionary Travels and John of Revelation's Churches

Time: Wednesday 29 June, 19h30

Join the Zoom meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83588354250, Meeting ID: 835 8835 4250


Children’s Worship
Children's Worship is held during the 11h and 14h services. For safety reasons, all children must be registered for the program to attend. You can register your child for Children's Worship at acparis.org/cw-registration or by using the QR code here. We also ask that you register your child's attendance in advance of each Sunday at acparis.org/signups. If you are an adult and are interested in joining our Children's Worship leadership team, contact Allison Wheeler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Please note that Children’s Worship will be on break for the summer beginning on 10 July.


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

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..

Nursery Volunteers Needed: ACP is pleased to announce the hiring of Kelsey Poe as our new nursery coordinator. With Kelsey in place, we plan to open the nursery for use during the 11h and 14h services but will need many new volunteers to do so. If you would like to serve, contact Kelsey Poe 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 McConnell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Mission Outreach Committee needs 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..


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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Sunday Concert Series

Originating in Left Bank studios in 1895, The Atelier Concert Series became part of the cultural activities at the American Church in Paris during the early 1930s. These concerts provide a performance opportunity in Paris for talented musicians of all nationalities.

A different program is offered each Sunday evening at 17h30, September through November and January through June. There is no admission fee, but a free-will offering is taken at the door to support the series.

To receive detailed programs, updates and other announcements about this series, send a message to our Music Director and put “Atelier Mailing” in the subject line.

ACP atelier concert offerings in June

Sunday 12 June, 17h30: All Things Bright and Beautiful, a quartet performing works by Haydn, Haendel, Price, Bielawa, and more.

Sunday 19 June, 17h30: The New York Classical Music Society, a string ensemble, performs works by Vivaldi, Mozart, Puccini, Gounod, and more.

Sunday 26 June, 17h30: Diana Fanning, pianist, performs works by Ravel, Boulanger, Chopin, and Schubert.
Sunday 3 July, 17h30: Ida Pelliccioli, pianist, performs works by Saygun, Bartok, Sibelius and their use of folk music.

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