Annual General Meeting 2014
‘It is our duty and our joy’ underlines the raison d’etre of Joie de Vie. We are called together to worship Our great God, but more than that, to GO OUT and bring His light and love to a world which desperately needs them. Ie ‘To know Jesus Christ and to make Him known’.To this end worship has continued without a break during the last year, with study during the week to encourage and equip us all. We have been greatly blessed by all who have contributed in so many ways: speakers, prayers, readers and musicians. Special thanks go to Christine Shaw who co-ordinated the worship during our absences between Christmas and Easter, and to all who helped her. Last summer we had a ‘Me and God’ series where a number of people told their stories, which enriched us all.
Numbers have been good throughout the winter. Of special note was the Christmas Day worship when 8 of us met to celebrate and to eat together. We also held a shared lunch each Sunday which has strengthened the sense of belonging and support for those who live here permanently.
Roger and I have had the privilege of ministering to several folk in their homes: taking Home Communions and doing House Blessings.
We are grateful to Pere Bernard and the people of L’Eglise St. Gilles for their generosity and hospitality in making our meeting place available to us. We continue to strengthen our relationship with them and have, as in previous years, shared in a service of Lessons and Carols, and also celebrated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Both these are bi-lingual services. This year, for the first time, we met together on Good Friday to mark this most solemn day. This time the service was totally french and all who were able to attend were made to feel very welcome. We continue to seek other ways in which we can grow closer together.
In the belief that ‘a giving church is a living church’ we have continued to support Tear Fund’s work in India; Medic-Malawi in Africa; Bethany Tranter working with Latin Link in Ecuador, South America; and our ‘adopted’ god-daughter, Happyness in Tanzania. 16 shoeboxes were sent to the Shoebox Appeal for those less well- off than ourselves.
Socially, we have again enjoyed several meals together, both in restaurants and people’s homes. We branched out into Coffee mornings, inviting local french friends, who came in good numbers to experience this typically ‘english’ way of doing things. Several of us joined ‘Les Jeunes Ainees’ (the young retired) based in Landevieille and have learnt petanque, how to picnic ‘french-style’and various craft activities. At Christmas 8 attended ‘La Creche Vivante’ a moving re-telling of the Nativity through mime, readings and music, in a local stone barn.
As reported last year, we were invited to join the Filling Station organisation, which we did. The first few months were well supported, being in the summer, but it became obvious that winter months were going to prove difficult. Following the establishment of another Filling Station in La Roche sur Yon the decision was taken to become a ‘summer only’ meeting and as I write we are now wondering whether to continue after the final 2014 meeting in October.
Several people have benefited from the ‘Staying in the Vine’ course, lead by Graham and Sharon Morrell. This has been a time to discover and ‘re-claim’ meditation as a means for Christians to draw nearer to God. Our thanks to G&S for all their hard work and commitment and to John & Lyn Bristow for hosting.
The Little House project really took off in the Autumn and is now nearing completion. It has been fully insulated and plaster boarded; re-wired; re-plumbed; undercoated; an on-demand gas water-heater installed; and all the white goods we need have been given. Huge thanks to all the people who have contributed in any way. We were given a generous donation which has purchased new sanitary ware(still to be fitted). There have been moments when I have questioned if we were doing the right thing, especially when our savings seemed to be disappearing rapidly, and then God has surprised us. Only last week, as we debated affording a tiler, a cheque arrived from our old church ‘to be used for The Little House Project’. God is indeed good! We hope that we can welcome our first visitors to The Little House sometime in June. We have a list of people who want to use it. Please continue to join us in praying that this will be a place of peace and blessing for all who come.
We shall have a time for dedicating The Little House to the work of supporting and encouraging our Christian brothers and sisters, and will let you have the date so you can ‘tune in’ with us.
We are sometimes asked ‘what’s your Church like? How big is it?’ and have found ourselves in the past saying, ‘We’re only a small church’. But recently we have realised that a more accurate statement is ‘we are a small part of THE Church’. Many come and go throughout the year. Many keep in touch when they are not in France. Other church communities around the world pray for us.
Father God has blessed us in so many ways and shown His support for us here in this part of France. Let us continue to look outwards, to see what we as the Church can offer to our immediate neighbours and to the wider world.
Thank you all, for all you have done, and for all you will do in this coming year.
May God bless you and draw you closer to Him.