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Protestant Festival in Strasbourg

Protestant Festival in Strasbourg

For the first time in history, French Protestants decided to jointly celebrate the jubilee of the Reformation, John Calvin’s 500th birthday and the vitality of their religious communities. This joint celebration is a testimony of a common faith and solida

November 19, 2009 | Jean-Paul Barquon

For the first time in history, French Protestants decided to jointly celebrate the jubilee of the Reformation, John Calvin’s 500th birthday and the vitality of their religious communities. This joint celebration is a testimony of a common faith and solidarity.

The Protestants Celebrate national festival took place in Strasbourg from October 30 through November 2, 2009, and was hosted by the French Protestant Federation (FPF). The celebration met with considerable popular success, drawing almost 15,000 visitors from all over France and representing all aspects of Protestantism.

In his welcome address on Friday evening, Claude Baty, the FPF President, stressed the “diversity of Protestantism, stretching from the old Huguenots to the new evangelical groups without roots.”

French Protestantism succeeded in making itself visible by allowing a great diversity of different faith communities to present their particularities. The program featured more than a hundred different activities such as Bible studies, lectures, shows, performances, concerts, youth activities and more. The various tents and booths erected throughout the city of Strasbourg and its surrounding areas allowed contact to be made with numerous visitors.

The Village of International Solidarity constructed at the central square of Strasbourg attracted the most people. This centerpiece brought together diverse Protestant associations all specializing in humanitarian and social work and in the defense of human rights and religious liberty.

The French chapter of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty (AIDLR) had its booth there and offered two public lectures on “Religious Liberty in the World Today”. 500 copies of the Conscience et Liberté magazine and 500 copies of Liberté bulletins were distributed to visitors.

The humanitarian organization ADRA-France also presented its activities. The Health Ministries Department of the Franco-Belgian Union organized a Health-Expo in the Temple-Neuf Church – a trail of 8 booths offering various tests and supervised by Dr. Gentiane Breuil.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church took part in this unique event because Adventists consider themselves to be a part of French Protestantism. In its October 22, 2009, issue, the Réforme magazine featured a report on the Seventh-day Adventist Church entitled “Christians Zealous for the Law and the Sabbath,” and the website of this magazine featured an interview with Jean-Paul Barquon, the Secretary of the Franco-Belgian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

On Saturday night, the Protestants Celebrate rally was held on the outskirts of Strasbourg. The rally included a four-hour concert with a palette of musical styles aimed to satisfy the diversity of generations and tastes. The Sunday morning program attracted some 15,000 participants.

“It was a union of Protestants rather than of Protestantism that was manifested in Strasbourg,” said Jean-Paul Willaime, a sociologist of religions, to the correspondent of the ENI press service, “It did not clear away deep, lasting differences.”

Sociologist and historian Sébastien Fath stressed that the Strasbourg meeting “had broken a number of trite clichés about Protestantism,” particularly concerning its “austerity, elitism and fragmentation.”

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