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Pasteur Intérimaire:
Lucie Bardiau


Président du Conseil:
Lilian Bachellerie

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Part 3 : UEEL – Union des Églises Évangéliques Libres

 

Presentation of UEEL, how it functions, its structure, and how these influence the functioning of a local Church belonging to the Union:

A / - logo

 


The same since 1984, but which needs to be explained.

1 / It is, at the same time, an open cross and a crossroads: a way of saying that it is at the cross of Christ that we meet: our churches are evangelical churches. The preaching of the cross, the work on the cross, is central.

2 / The whole logo forms a circle, the image of gathering around Christ. 1 Cor 3:10-11
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

A circle, a community: our churches are churches of professants.


A major difference between confessing churches and professing churches:


By a confessing church we mean churches with a confession of faith as its basis, a unique declaration that serves as a criterion for the teaching of this church. A church of professants is a church which admits as members only those who profess publicly their individual faith, in accordance with this confession of faith.
 

 

The difference is at the level of individuals: in a confessing church one can find professing members but in a church of professants, all are professants! All have a personal faith that is affirmed, expressed.


The difference between going to church and believing in God.


Being religious or have a relationship with God, Jesus Christ.

3 / Then there are finer lines in the form of a circular arc which give the dynamic impression of the movement towards the centre: our Union finds its cohesion by focussing on the essential.

Ph 3:14, 15
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

 

4 / The open cross finally underlines our willingness to welcome Christ as He has welcomed us. Romans 15: 7 " Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”


B / - Motto
In the essential things: fidelity.
In secondary things: freedom.
In all things; charity.

Why talk about essential things and secondary things?

 

Two main reasons:
a / We can’t know everything or understand everything in the Bible. We need to prioritize; recognize that not all truths have the same importance and role.
b) To distinguish the essential things from the secondary, is to give the possibility of living one's faith with others.


If all the convictions of each were erected in infallible dogmas, there would be no churches ....


As one of the Union's characters has said, "Speaking of the essential is not to reduce the truth, it is to refuse to flatten it."

C / - Spirit of construction:

The Union is like a modern tower, the foundation is not very broad but it is deep: rooted in Christ. Afterwards, the construction of the floors begins with the centre and not with the exterior walls: the center is the spine, where water, gas, air, and electricity pipes pass. Then, to this central column are attached floors, floors whose exterior walls are not brick but glass panels: by day light penetrates, at night the tower shines on the city. Mat 5:14-15 "
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

 

We want to make vertebrate Christians and not molluscs: vertebrates don’t need shells, they don’t have need of shelter. Their strength and cohesion comes from inside (the central column), and their identity can then be positive, not reactive.

These different elements are added: professants, individual faith, crossroads, openness, Christ in the center, a place for differences of opinion in secondary things, having a non-defensive attitude but openness on the outside, solidly anchored Christians and not molluscs that need protection, etc.

D / - UEEL is made up of some fifty major churches and evangelistic posts.

First of all, in France, in order to be recognized as a Church, an association must be established, which must have a minimum number of members according to the total population of its zone.

 

We have previously mentioned two types of churches (major or evangelistic posts):

A church begins as a post of evangelisation and becomes major when it has acquired a certain stability and in particular its financial autonomy: the ability to pay a full-time pastor and to assume the operating expenses.

 

As long as a church does not have this capacity, it is considered a post of evangelisation, as is still the case of Périgueux today. An evangelistic post is supported financially by the Union but this aid is linked to the project of the Church and limited in time.


The salary of the pastor is not left to the discretion of the members of the local Church, but is fixed according to a national scale, which takes into account the seniority of the pastor, the number of dependents, nature, reimbursement of travel expenses, accommodation, etc.

Each evangelistic post and major church is invited, but not obliged, to pay part of the offerings received to the Union. Thus we are in a system with an operating budget, paid by the local Church, and an investment budget on which the Union can intervene, as a financier or a surety.

The premises of our Church have been purchased by the Union, which place them at our disposal; it is up to us to insure the payments and the maintenance.

 

The project of acquisition of the accommodation for the future pastor will be done exceptionally on the same principle.

 

Functioning as association law 1905, this means having statutes, members who choose from among them a board of directors.

 

As I visit people attending this church, the question of becoming a member can arise.

A member undertakes to truly support the life and activities of the Church, hence by spiritual, active and financial participation.


We are all part of the universal Church, but the functioning of a Church in France requires statutes, people who make the move to become members.

 

Requirements of being a member: see statutes, to be obtained at simple demand)


An association has rules of operation. In our case, for example, the decisions are made at the General Assembly on the proposal of the Council - so you must contact one of the members of the Council - the pastor is one of them - weeks before the General Assembly to submit a proposal or a request. The council will deliberate and give you its answer.

 

At the General Assembly, only questions are asked. The decisions taken are only those written on the agenda proposed by the Council.

 

I have noticed a certain irritation at previous General Assemblies, people who complained of not getting an immediate decision, but the statutes only allow us to vote at the General Asembly on the decisions  proposeod by the Council.


At the last meeting of the pastoral team, it was suggested to hold  'round table' meetings for the entire community 3 to 4 times a year. It is not a general assembly but a time of exchange, from which may then arise subjects that the council should work with a view to a future General Assembly.

 

This idea is yet to be submitted to the Council of Administration.


The Church Council has as its operating rules not only the statutes of the association but is also subject to the internal rules of the Union: a workbook with rules.

 

It specifies how to replace a pastor who leaves his post to take charge of another Church.

 

There, I must acknowledge that we have not been precise in communicating this process, but we are not used to managing pastoral change because, thanks to the Lord, we have had a period of stability with Pastor Guy Delarbre in office for 11 years.


To conclude with the rules of functioning and structure at the level of the Union, we must know that we have a
synodal operation: the churches (at least the chosen representatives of each Church, at the local Church General Assembly) meet every two years to discuss the major decisions / directions to be taken.


The day-to-day management of the Union is carried out by the Synodal Commission, composed of pastors and laymen, elected for two years by the participants in the synod.

 

This committee oversees several other committees, such as the ministerial committee which decides on the consecration of pastors, their inter-church movements and their situation in the Church in case of difficulties, such as human resources in a company.

The Synodal Commission keeps abreast of what is happening in the local churches by means of a written communication requested from the pastors before each meeting of the commission and by the synodal visit: every two years, each church is visited by a pastor of another region. During his visit, he meets the pastor and the council together, then separately, he fills in a standard form and takes the "temperature" of the Church.


On an international level, our Union is linked to the Covenant Churches of the United States, to other Unions in Germany, to Norway and so on. Sister churches that support us financially but also by sharing experiences, such as the Vitality Process.