NEW VIDEO: THE LORD’S PRAYER AT TCL
In our latest video, you’ll hear how the Lord’s Prayer sounds from different members of Trinity Church Lyon. See how many languages you can identify.
RECOLLECTIONS OF FELLOWSHIP
by Chris and Heather Wild
“Est-ce que c’est ici l’eglise Anglicane?” I asked, in halting French. “Yes, it is” replied an elegant lady, pausing briefly from her task of carefully placing service booklets on each chair. This was our first meeting with Jean Goichot. I quickly reverted to English! (How many people must Jean and Jean have warmly welcomed to the church over the decades?).
It was sometime in the late summer of 1984 that Heather and I first walked into the Lyon church, having seen an announcement pinned to the noticeboard at the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Brian and Rosemary Bradley were the Minister and wife team, leading a relatively small but welcoming congregation.
We used to meet in the ecumenical centre, Mains Ouvertes in the Part-Dieu, right under the “Le Crayon”. Later, when we had children, they were impressed that our “church” was the tallest building in Lyon. It was not always as easy to find as you might imagine – at times something huge and important can be obscured by things closer, smaller and less important: a spiritual lesson in physical form.
In our early days, the church services required “all hands on deck.” I had opportunities to lead and preach as well as periods as church warden and treasurer – although the fact we had no building and little money simplified both tasks! Heather developed strong friendships through the women’s groups. The support provided to young Mums, often isolated from family, was of immeasurable value. We have many precious memories and some startling ones, not least walking into church flanked by armed police when a member of the ex-pat community had been shot dead on his doorstep!
Happier times saw the whole congregation assembled for a photo on the steps outside the church, after celebrating the dedication of our first child, Giselle. Deep friendships were forged in home groups, including Diana, Joanne, Keith and Elspeth, Judith and many others. We were part of a family. We stayed for 12 years. But three children (Giselle, Ben and Joe), four Ministers (Brian, Gerald, Peter and Jim) and 2 venues (Part-Dieu and Rue Crequi) later we faced a move back to the UK. It was now our turn to trigger the sad goodbyes that will always characterise a missionary church. We left, never to return. At least that’s what we thought.
Unexpectedly, in 2009, we moved back to Lyon, rejoining the church just before Ben and Jo Harding arrived. Rediscovering old friends provided much needed continuity. Sadly, work and travel meant we had less time to be involved the second time around, although we both enjoyed helping out with the young people. What was striking was how the nature of the fellowship was unchanged: welcoming, open, supportive, non-judgemental, diverse, loving and focused on the gospel. Imitating Jesus, enabled by the Spirit, upheld by the Father. That was the reality we discovered afresh.
The fellowship provided a vital, solid foundation for us in the face of many demands. We experienced the love and care of the fellowship most vividly in February 2018 when our first grandchild nearly died at birth and risked serious disability. Your prayers and concern for us made all the difference. Frankie’s recovery has been truly miraculous (a word carefully and deliberately chosen). Thank you all!
There is something special about the fellowship at TCL. But it is difficult to define. Perhaps, at heart, the pressures and challenges so many of us face when living away from home has an unexpected benefit: the need to depend on the love of God and His people. God and neighbour, supporting the sojourner. That is no bad focus, avoiding the alternative of reliance on self and the material. Maybe the focus is part of what is special about TCL.
May God continue to bless you all richly by His grace. With love and thanks to you all.