What’s in a name?

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At our rentrée All Age Worship service in September, the church council unveiled the name “Trinity Church Lyon” to be the one we will be using to describe our church community from now onwards.

The church council has been discussing the idea of a name change for a couple of years and it is with increasing confidence and conviction that I feel we have made the right decision. In what follows I have attempted to sketch out a few of the ideas that have lead us to this decision and some reflections from a book I read over the half term break entitled “The Divine Dance – The Trinity and Transformation”.

First, it is important to underline and understand that our Anglican identity and our membership of the Anglican Communion is NOT changing, in a sense very little is changing, this is an exercise in communication.

The name ‘Trinity Church’ is a way of connecting us with over 160 years of English speaking ministry in Lyon whilst, at the same time, suggesting something contemporary for new generations of believers who find themselves in Lyon today.

As ‘Trinity Church’ we reconnect ourselves with our founding story, our history and our past. The Anglican Chaplaincy in Lyon was founded in 1853 and Holy Trinity Church was built in the 1870’s and was known as such until relatively recently.

As ever, the role of our English speaking chaplaincy is diverse, multi-layered, and multi-cultural. However, our primary calling is to help English speakers in Lyon pursue a life of faith in Christ. As such, our change of name is a conscious way of dismantling an unnecessary denominational obstacle that may hinder people considering connecting with our community.

What follows are some of the questions we have encountered over the last few years as a congregation:

What is Anglican?
Am I an Anglican?
What if I’m not an Anglican?
Are ‘not-anglicans’ welcome?
Is Anglican “British” only?
Is Anglican Christian?
Is Anglican the same as Episcopalian?

These are all important questions, but hopefully they are questions that people can ask from within our community rather than having to negotiate and navigate them before they even step through our front doors. Trinity Church Lyon, does what it says on the tin. It’s a Trinitarian, English speaking Church in Lyon.

Secondly, and for me the most juicy bit of the whole process, has been a fresh discovery of the Trinity itself, the relationship between The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Our faith is founded on this harmonious, dynamic relationship which generates and gives out love, one from the other, one to the other.

Which is perpetually honouring, serving and elevating one to the other.
Which incorporates and celebrates individual distinctiveness as well as total unity.
And is a relationship which is joyful, life giving, creative, supportive, yet liberating.

When I think of all that, I wonder, would this not be a good reflection of who we (imperfectly) aim to be, is this not the model set before us to mirror?

One of the most famous icons in the world is the one below – Rublev’s “Trinity”. The story goes that the space in the middle at the bottom of the icon was where a mirror used to be.

A final reason why I consider Trinity to be a juicy name for our community is that there is a fourth place set at the table; an invitation for everyone, everyone who has ever existed; to participate in this dynamic relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; to be caught up in this life-giving, eternally advancing, increasing, developing, growing, loving flow of worship and service…everyone….including english speakers who happen to find themselves in Lyon.

I don’t know about you, but I find the above a captivating vision for which I am thankful to our founding church members to have settled upon in the 19th century and one which I feel I am empowered by for the future.

In the meantime, I’m very happy to take a few TCL puns on the chin, although I think ‘TCL – Trinity Church Lyon – journeying in faith together’ has its own special charm 😉

With peace, in the name of

God who is for us – Father,
God who is alongside us – Jesus
and God who within us – The Holy Spirit