Friday, 2 May 2008

Bonjour Toulouse!

I had been going to Toulouse this weekend - the wonderful pink city at the foot of the Pyrennees where I started blogging last summer - but there was in the end no real need for another English interpreter.
The Eglise Réformée de France (ERF) is holding its national synod there this year. Last year there was a joint synod with the Eglise Evangélique Luthérienne de France (EELF) in Sochaud at the Peugeot car museum - as we began to move to union between the two churches.
Pastor Majagira Bulangalire is chaplain to the synod this year. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Majagira has a breadth and depth of religious, theological, political and inter-cultural experience. As well as being an ERF pastor he's currently president of the community of African Francophone churches. I can remember him speaking very movingly of how he (just) lived through and fled desperate political events in DRC. He's a thoughtful and prophetic interpreter of one culture to another.
In the short introduction he's written on the ERF website entitled "a church on the move" he says this: (scroll down for my late night quick English translation.)

"La question posée par ces différentes rencontres est celle de la pérennité de l’évangile au sein d’une société qui se mondialise et qui est en continuelle mutation. Question ancienne mais toujours actuelle et vivante : l’ERF ne se devait-elle pas, des voeux de ses fondateurs, de demeurer le lieu d’une réforme permanente ? C’est dans tous les cas une des exigences de l’universalité.
L’Église est désormais appelée à une interrogation constante quant à son rapport à la culture, à la société dans laquelle elle a à agir. Il lui faut désormais être, aujourd’hui plus encore qu’hier, d’avant-garde et prophétique.
Elle se doit de prévenir et de s’adapter, sans pour autant trahir le message. Elle doit efficacement être présente sans toutefois vendre et/ou perdre son âme. Exercice périlleux mais toujours à recommencer. N’est-ce pas le sens du texte de Luc 14 : 28 - 33. Renoncer pour suivre, c’est s’interroger, pour survivre et faire vivre !"

"The question posed at all of these different (synod) meetings is that of ensuring the continued existence of the gospel within a globalising society which is continually changing. One old but still pertinent and "lively" question is: shouldn't the ERF, given the wishes of its founders, be a place of permanent reformation? This in any case is one of the demands of universality. From now on the church is called to constantly ask questions about its relationship with culture and with the society in which it has to act. Today more than in the past the church has to be both prophetic and in the vanguard.
It has to both warn and adapt itself, but without betraying the message. It needs to be present without selling or losing its soul."

You can also read Majagira's sermon for Sunday May 4th here.