In the small town of Saint Prix, just 40 km north of Paris, the France district held their first family camp since Covid. We gathered under the theme, “One Church, One Family”. Reflecting on Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16. Focusing on being called to unity amidst the diversity of the body of Christ and all of its giftedness.
Months of preparation, teamwork, zoom calls and prayer went into this much anticipated three day event. With more than 130 people gathering over the French holiday weekend marking Ascension Day, the retreat center was fully booked. There were participants of all ages, including some fifty children and youth representing many of the churches on the district.
Pastor Todd Keller and pastor Hannah Beers-Borger joined as guest speakers all the way from College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas. In the opening service, pastor Keller reminded us that we are all part of the body of Christ and the body of Christ is One. He reflected on what it means to be a church body that is Connected, Capable, Crucial and Courageous. These words weaved their way throughout the weekend reinforcing the theme.
The days were full, consisting of meals together, a variety of age specific workshops, as well as lively joint worship services, and evening games. A highlight was the last evening, when pastor Ben-Oni Valentin hosted the talent show for anyone who wanted to participate. Some shared in dance, three youths wrote and composed their own songs, a women’s choir group serenaded us with hymns in Creole, a saxophonist played a jazz solo, and even the kids participated with a riddle for the DS and FSC to solve.
Brian Ketchum, a member of the planning team said, “We wanted the talent show to allow all those that didn’t feel like they had something to contribute to the life of the church to be given an opportunity to share the gifts that God had given them and be celebrated for who they are, a beautiful and valued member of the church/family.”
District superintendent, Joseph Toguyera shared about the family camp saying, “The setting, the atmosphere, the weather, the organization, the speakers, the children, the young people and the adults, everyone found their place in this family. Everything turned out just as I hoped and asked God to make it. Praise be to God.”
It was truly a blessed time together and everyone left feeling restored and enthusiastic for all that God has planned for the church of the Nazarene in France.
-article by Erin Ketchum