Report from the national Synod of the Reformed Church of France
The theme of this year’s national Synod of the Reformed Church of France, held from 2nd to 5th June, was youth, under the title: “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams” (Joel 2:28) – Building the Church in step with the stages of life.” Our object was to define guidelines and priorities for youth work in our Church.
Below are some translated extracts from the guidance paper adopted by the Synod:
“Spending an afternoon at home alone in your living room is a very different experience from spending an afternoon in the same living room with a teenager. We want our Church to be our shared home overflowing with life through listening to and sharing the Word of God, and meeting others in all their diversity, both inside and outside our communities. (…)”
We would like to tell the young people of today that we need their words, to help us listen to the word of God. Words that are heard and shared together are words that can reach others, words on which we can build our mission (…)”
The Synod re-affirmed the convictions expressed in the Educational Project of the Reformed Church of France, which forms the basis for the guidelines and priorities for youth work:
“Each human being is known and loved by God unconditionally, and without justification. The path to personal discovery of the scope of God’s love manifested in Jesus Christ is open and free to all.
We are convinced that the Word of the love of Christ, accepted and understood, enables everyone, younger and older, to take part in the transformation of the world. We believe that we are called to offer this Word of love to as many people as possible.”
The Synod took note of some of the challenges facing us.
“responding to the new spiritual needs of a generation where many have not been exposed to Christianity,embracing the digital revolution as an opportunity comparable to that of the invention of printing at the time of the Reformation, creating, inventing and encouraging inter-generational relationships, gaining freedom from the widespread fears of our time (fear of difference, fear of others, fear of the future, for oneself and for society, etc.), combating modern forms of insecurity or emotional poverty, involving all generations in decision-taking and responsibility both within the Church and in society.”
The aims of youth work in the Reformed Church of France over the next few years can be summarized as follows:
“To provide meaning and experience of spiritual life to young people from families known to the local Churches, but also reaching resolutely out, inviting and welcoming young seekers and those who have never heard of the Gospel. The Church is open to all, with special concern to receive the most fragile. The offer will be explicit, firmly based on the text of the Bible, and will use all available active teaching aids. It will be linked to the life of the community, which will support it, and will encourage the inter-generational approach and young people’s commitment to the Church and to society.”
- The Synod decided to establish a post of national youth leader.
- The Synod called upon the local Churches to:
“define a youth programme, with special emphasis on support for projects that can be carried out by small teams of young people (e.g. video-clip competitions, trips and outings, one-off solidarity events, photo exhibitions, retreats) […]
encourage young people to speak up and take responsibility in associations and church movements (e.g. as parish councillors, on a young people’s council, in a young people’s synod)”
- The Synod requested the Protestant Theological Institute “to set up a ‘youth leadership’ module as part of the training in practical theology […]” and requested the Liturgy Committee “to incorporate aspects relating to young people and to religious education in the common liturgy of the Reformed Church of France, and to use modern means of communication to circulate texts, liturgies and music suitable for all generations.”
- Finally, the Synod asked for a national youth rally to be organised regularly, focussing on announcing the Gospel and being open to the world and to others; the Synod decided that a rally should be organized in 2013.
Click here for the text (in French) of the opening address to the Synod by the President of the national council of the RCF, Laurent Schlumberger.