Intern Charlie Vogt reports on French Connect London
A few words of introduction about myself will help you understand how I ended up in the France Mission Perspectives magazine. I’m 25 years old and from Alsace in France. I grew up in the Perspectives church in Mulhouse (la-chapelle-evangelique.fr) where I also became a Christian. This church remains a strong source of spiritual support for me and I’m glad to keep in touch with them regularly. Jean-Georges Gantenbein, regional director for the Perspectives churches in Alsace and Eastern France, was my pastor growing up and, towards the end of 2018, he put me in touch with Paul Cooke, France Mission’s UK Director. As a result of this contact, from January to August 2019 I was able to do an internship at the church where Paul is one of the leaders: Belmont Chapel in Exeter.
I’m writing these few words about my ministry from the Borough of Kensington in London. This year is special for me, not only because of Covid but also because I’m in the months running up to my wedding with my fiancée Maria that’ll take place this summer, God willing. She’s British and so this year in London is also a transition year for me heading toward married life.
In September 2020, I started a one-year scheme in London provided by the Church of England for young adults who want to get ministry experience by dedicating most of their time to serving in their local church. I’m in the church of St Barnabas where I mostly work alongside Jean-Luc Sergent, one of the Vicars at St Barnabas and Pastor of French Connect (stbk.org.uk/frenchconnect). The latter is a French-speaking church that meets in the St Barnabas building with the vision of reaching out to the enormous community of French-speaking people in London.
The French Connect identity is very much based on connecting with people as well as with God. We enjoy seeing people engaging with others while doing things they love, like eating – and food, as we all know, is very important to French people! More generally, we also seek to see Christians connecting with one another; Christian unity is therefore also a strong aspect of French Connect. In this way, we also want to bless the church in France with our work. We were pleased recently to be one of the driving forces in the two songs that were released on YouTube (“La Bénédiction” and “Le Chant des anges”) to help Christians from the whole French-speaking world stand firm in this difficult time of the pandemic and to contribute to creating a sense of unity among Christians. Our hope is to see all French-speaking churches being renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit and we would love to contribute to this from where we are.
I’m thankful to God for making this year possible. I’m glad that I’ve been able to get to know the Church of England more and it’s a pleasure to serve the Lord at St Barnabas and be part of the church family there. Even though the pandemic has had such an impact on us all this year, I’m amazed at the creativity that’s enabled our church life to keep going through these circumstances that have completely changed the way we used to do things. Please do pray for French Connect as we continue to try and make Jesus known among the French speakers in central London.