Paris: New Apostolic life in an international congregation

Six metropolises – six continents – six congregations. What is New Apostolic life like in the major cities of the world? has done some investigating. Today we will make a stop in Paris.

Europe – France – Paris

The French love wine, bread, and cheese. They are passionate about their food, and talk with their hands and feet. These are some of the more common stereotypes. Paris, the capital of France, has become home to many immigrants over the years. The city proper, with its population of 2.2 million, is large. But the so-called Paris Region is even larger. With a population of 12.3 million, it is the second largest city in the European Union after London.

The City of Paris is not really that large. It only covers 105 square kilometres, making it one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. And for a matter of interest, Paris is not only the most densely populated city, but also the second most expensive city in the world after Singapore. Then there is the Eifel Tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame and all the other tourist attractions that draw 16 million foreign visitors a year.

Paris is predominantly Catholic, although the picture is beginning to change because of the many immigrants. France was once a deeply Christian country and—as it was sometimes called—the “eldest daughter of the church”. Today the de-christianization of France is fairly advanced.

France is still an overwhelmingly Catholic country. The Protestants and other denominations form a minority. The second-most widely professed religion in France is Islam, with an estimated two million adherents.

There is also a New Apostolic congregation in the French capital. Its beginnings go back to the early 1930s.

From cinema to church

The congregation in Paris has 160 active members. It is part of the district Paris-North, which includes the congregations around Paris, extends to Orléans in the south and to Melun in the east. Also belonging to the district are the congregations in northern France—Lille, Auchel, Calais. The district has a total membership of about 350.

Divine services have been taking place at the same address since 1966: 70, rue de Charonne or 60, rue Trousseau. Why two addresses? The entrance is at the intersection of two roads. When the Church bought the building it was a cinema. It was rebuilt and eventually demolished, and a new residential building put up. The ground floor houses the church. The oval church hall is modern and comes across as very inviting.

The congregation has a Shepherd, four Priests, nine Deacons, and still two Sub-deacons. The New Apostolic Church in France, with just under 5,000 active members, is small. Most of the members are found in the eastern part of the country. In the other parts of the country distances pose a big challenge.

Alive, young, and international

The congregation is comprised of mostly African members who come from the Congo. The rector is Congolese and comes from Kinshasa. They all blend into the existing congregation.

Paris is a lively congregation. There is a choir, several organists, and a large youth group that wins new members every year. There is a constant influx of young brothers and sisters from all parts of the world, who come to Paris for a work placement or to study. It is the most natural thing in the world for them to join the New Apostolic youth. There are also numerous activities for children: Pre-Sunday School, Sunday School, religious- and confirmation classes.

What is perhaps a little peculiar is that none of the church members actually live in the City of Paris. Rents are exorbitant.

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Peter Johanning
France, Congregational life