VOLUME 7 N 2 O
THE MAGAZINE OF THE AMERICAN CATHEDRAL IN PARIS
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In this issue
Travelers and pilgrims Message from the Dean SPRING 2012 Trinité The magazine of The American Cathedral in Paris
The way we worship and what it means
By Angela Peterson Newton
The Cathedral campus as construction zone
Interim Dean The Right Reverend Peter James Lee Canon Pastor The Reverend Elizabeth Hall Hendrick Canon for Administration Giles Williams Director of Music Zachary Ullery Trinité Editors Nancy Janin Charles Trueheart Assistant Editor Kelley Bass Design/Layout Anastasia Lafargue Advertising Katherine Millen Worré Cover photo Anastasia Lafargue Please send comments to: The American Cathedral in Paris 23 avenue George V 75008 Paris France Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.americancathedral.org
A discerning congregation imagines a new dean By Joseph Coyle
Finding a place in the Lambda Group By Nancy Janin
Connecting the unconnected By Anne Swardson
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Travelers and pilgrims Message from the Dean
From the days of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and John Jay, those founding fathers of the United States who were powerfully influenced by their time in Paris, to the present day, hundreds of thousands of Americans over the years have found this city of light to be an inspiration and a joy. David McCullough’s recent book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris”, tells the stories of Americans—mostly artists, writers and medical students—whose lives were transformed in their various Parisian sojourns between 1830 and 1900. Charles Glass’s “Americans in Paris, the account of Americans during the Nazi occupation of Paris between 1940-1944” is a fascinating tale of patience, courage, patriotism and sometimes stubbornness and greed. Now in the 21st Century the people of the American Cathedral of the Holy Trinity are heirs to this glorious legacy. Some of our regular worshippers have been in Paris for decades; every Sunday, some among us have been here only for a few days. Our task is to unite in prayer and praise one people shaped by the American Episcopal tradition into faithful witnesses to the presence of the risen Christ.
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Worship, then, is the center of who we are and what we do, and our service to others flows from our gathering at the table. Our outreach to a school on Palestine’s West Bank to Bulgarian orphanages, our support for the reconstruction of the Episcopal Cathedral in Haiti, our regular feeding of others at our Friday mission lunches - all are consequences of a diverse community gathered at the Eucharistic table and empowered by our gathering. At one level, no American or other foreign national is at home in Paris. McCullough’s book repeatedly reports accounts by Americans who, after decades in Paris, reaffirm their American identity. So, while I hope all of us can enjoy the marvelous gifts of Paris, all of us can also learn from Americans and other foreigners that we have other homes and even more so, remember that as Christians all of us are travelers and pilgrims on our way home to Christ. The Right Reverend Peter James Lee Interim Dean and Rector
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The way we worship and what it means
Balancing tradition and modernity in inclusive liturgies By Angela Peterson Newton
Every Christian worships God in private, enjoined, as we are, to pray without ceasing. But public liturgical observance is central to the Christian experience: each Sunday, millions of Christians around
the world gather in local congregations to celebrate their faith. The original meaning of liturgy (from Greek λειτουργία) is “the public work of the people on behalf of the people.” The public nature of our worship
is essential to its meaning, and, despite seemingly endless variations on Christian liturgy worldwide, that meaning remains unchanged. The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity practices what Bishop Lee, interim Dean of the Cathedral, describes as a “broad church, mainstream Episcopal” style of worship—the kind you might find at the largest urban American Episcopal churches, such as Grace Cathedral in San Francisco or the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, and whose diverse congregations, grand sacred spaces and musical excellence mirror our own. This style is a balance between tradition and modernity, solemnity and joy, word and sacrament, its tone and aesthetics ever-changing with the liturgical seasons. We also seek to practice a welcoming, inclusive style of worship that embraces every person present,
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inviting each into a fulfilling communal experience. And during the 11 o’clock Sunday service, we do all this in a richly musical style. The Cathedral’s worship traditions can, of course, be traced to the earliest Christian communities, but those that are specifically Episcopal can be traced to 1544, when Archbishop Thomas Cranmer wrote the first Anglican rite, which we now practice on the first Sunday of Lent. This rite, known as the Great Litany, is an ancient-feeling, hypnotically transporting moment in the modern Church calendar: a slow, winding processional, encircling the congregation in an act of special consecration, signifying the beginning of a new season. The practice of antique litanies, chants and prayers, alongside contemporary innovations and moments of spontaneity, allows our congregation to draw upon nearly five centuries of Anglican tradition to create a form of worship that is meaningful to us on many levels.
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The Cathedral’s liturgical language creates a dialogue between tradition and modernity. At times of heightened solemnity, this language is traditional, addressing God as thee and speaking of worship as being meet and our bounden duty. When reciting archaic forms, most congregants need to work a bit harder than usual to participate in the liturgy, which may lead to deeper reflection. At other times, we might employ contemporary Biblical paraphrases, for example, in a youth-oriented service centered on welcoming Rite 13 celebrities to Christian adulthood, which, especially when read by a very young lector, can make the scriptures seem more freshly relevant to the listener. Congregants will also begin to notice the introduction of ultra-modern, inclusive language, featuring the use of all people rather than mankind, and realm rather than kingdom, for example. Such inclusivity also calls for reflection and
questioning of received ideas about how the body of Christ actually functions and knits together. The most modern, spontaneous and collegial elements of the liturgy are found in the sermon, the passing of the peace, and the welcome and announcements. These are breaks in the performance of ritual, during which we listen to a message crafted for the moment, then take time to focus our energy upon each other, our local body of Christ. While the sermon has its basis in the weekly scripture set by the Revised Common Lectionary, it is formed by the preacher’s unique interpretation of that scripture to create something original and particular. In Bishop Lee’s view, a sermon is an ephemeral act, never to be repeated, a response to scripture in light of the congregation’s concerns of the moment, major events on the world stage, and issues weighing upon his own mind and heart at the time of preaching.
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During the welcome, the celebrant typically announces that the Eucharist to follow is open to all: it is open, neither simply to those who are members of the Cathedral, nor only to those who are baptized, but to everyone present. This represents a sharp break with tradition and a controversial interpretation of the relationship between baptism and communion, one that has yet to achieve consensus within the Episcopal Church. Yet it has become part of the Cathedral’s mission to welcome all comers, including seekers from other faith traditions, or from none. An essential part of its mission of hospitality is the soupçon of French the Cathedral adds to its liturgy. While the majority of the congregation is English-
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speaking, there is a significant French-speaking minority, many of whom read the liturgy in the “Livre de la Prière Commune.” Lectors often read one of the scriptural selections in French, clergy welcome the congregation bilingually, and the Lord’s Prayer is always printed in both languages in the service bulletin. The less formal, more contemporary Sunday evening service places a greater emphasis on French. The Cathedral enjoys a high degree of liturgical involvement by lay people; every week more than twenty individuals take on the duties of Welcomers, Ushers, Acolytes, Ministers of Communion, and the Altar Guild. Yet these official roles exist to serve the people in their collective performance of the liturgy, not to perform the liturgy on their behalf. According to Bishop Lee, the role of the liturgy is to shape
the lives of the congregation together into a local body of Christ. Each person present has a critical role to play, and all must be active participants. It’s how we affirm our identity and express our commitment to our faith and to each other. In doing so, we re-create the body of Christ, Sunday after Sunday. In our liturgical practice, Christ is present and alive: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20). Angela Peterson Newton is a newcomer to the Cathedral. She is an instructor at the French War College and a “grande école” of engineering. Photography by Dennis Mana-Ay
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The Cathedral campus as construction zone There’s dust and noise in the air, along with the promise of renewal Arriving at the Cathedral in Spring 2012 one is met by a wall of the ubiquitous gray and green barriers favored by French construction crews, behind which heavy machinery and materiel are easily seen. Bilingual signs point the way to the “new” entrance just a bit up avenue George V, the original and only entrance during the Cathedral’s first 20 years. Inside the nave itself volunteers provide a warm greeting to tourists and send others on to their business in the building, just as they did from the narthex before. The weekday life of the Cathedral is punctuated by the sounds of drilling and digging (although workers are given a “coffee break” for special services). Attendees at evening rehearsals and meetings come in through the impasse behind the church, a space many didn’t know existed until a few months ago. It is all a bit different but also quite exciting as we adapt to the organized chaos around us and anticipate discovering our beloved but improved Cathedral. The renovations currently underway at the Cathedral represent the largest building project in a century – since the Deanery was added in 1913. With more parishioners and more activities than ever today, the parish house building, designed during an era with a more restricted notion of church activities, had long ceased to be an adequate facility. The current €6.3 million project will add approximately 500 square meters of new space, much of it underground, and will modernize existing space in the parish house and
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the deanery. Except for the addition of a door for the handicapped, the nave will remain unchanged. The largest part of the work is the addition of two levels of usable space under the Deans’ Garden. A lower sub-level will provide 120 square meters of storage, easing storage pressures in the parish house itself. Above this storage space will be two new Sunday school classrooms, also comprising 120 square meters. Translucent paved sections of the garden will bring natural light into the classrooms. These same rooms will be used during the week as meeting spaces for the many groups using the Cathedral – including Alcoholics Anonymous, a language exchange club, various Cathedral committee meetings and Bible study groups. This level will also have new toilets, including two handicapped-accessible facilities. The north alley – a 3-meter by 36-meter open space running along the upper side of the nave – will be covered to create a toilet accessible from the worship space, a flower workshop and laundry facilities for the vestments and other linens. Another major undertaking is the installation of a central elevator servicing all six floors in the Parish House. With only a stone stairway to connect the floors today, the handicapped and physically impaired are unable to access five levels. The plans further call for the construction of a completely new kitchen on the ground floor, to replace the basement-level kitchen built in 1953 thus
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obviating the need for servers to carry heavy dishes up one level. The kitchen will be in conformity with all current French regulations for professional kitchens. The below-ground space occupied by the current kitchen will be transformed into a music suite. There will be dedicated space for the storage of all music and choir robes, offices for the music director and his assistant, and a sound-proofed rehearsal space. The ground-floor residence of the canon pastor in the Deanery building will be converted to clergy offices and a new reception room accessible from the narthex or main entrance of the Cathedral. This space, thanks to donations from parishioners and Friends, will be dedicated in honor of former Dean Zachary Fleetwood. The current boiler heating system installed during World War II will be replaced by a connection to the Paris steam-grid, the CPCU (Compagnie Parisienne de Chauffage Urbain), an environmentally sound
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system. Many other smaller changes are in the plans and will have substantial positive impact on our daily operations. All of the planned renovations have been approved by the French historic monuments department, the Monuments Historiques. The Cathedral was put on the list of protected sites in 1996 and is committed to preserving its special architectural heritage. Ground was broken in mid-December 2011 and phase I, which includes the conversion of the canon’s apartment, the creation of the two-floor structure under the Deans’ Garden, and the north alley construction, should be completed by the end of October 2012. Phase 2 will begin immediately afterward and is scheduled for completion perhaps as early as Easter 2013 (or Pentecost, or Trinity Sunday, or….) While we are right on schedule today, we know our enlarged and renewed Cathedral will be worth the wait.
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A discerning congregation imagines a new dean
Who are we? Where are we called? Whom do we seek? … and other questions By Joseph Coyle
On a rainy December Saturday, parishioners of the American Cathedral in Paris assembled for a day of discernment that opened the public phase of the search for a new dean and rector. The gathering set the stage for a headhunt being carried out by the Cathedral’s dean search committee this year, and more. It opened the collective heart and mind of a congregation. It drew out personal stories revealing what attracts people here, what keeps them here, what they feel is missing. It compiled a spiritual self-portrait of this singular, ever-shifting, inimitable collection of Christian souls. Bishop-in-Charge Pierre Whalon moderated the event, modeling it on transition exercises he has led across the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. The hundred-some parishioners attending were divided into 11 small groups. There would be four sets of small-group sessions, each followed by a plenary session where a designated representative from each group would deliver a report. The first small-group sessions addressed the question: Why did you join this church? In the plenary, at least one reason was clear: inclusiveness. It came in a shower of synonyms: openness, welcome, warmth, diversity, acceptance, community, “this is the Lord’s Table,” connection. The opportunity to meet other Americans may have been implicit, but what was explicit was wider and deeper. The other major Cathedral
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attractions – liturgy, music, the beauty of the space, children’s activities, adult education and Christ-centered worship prominent among them – left a powerful impression of what was going on underneath it all: a common yearning to find a place of spiritual comfort in the world. Three sub-populations of the Cathedral emerged and kept re-emerging throughout the day: • Cradle Episcopalians and Anglicans, who spoke about the joy of reconnecting with the worship of their youth. “Coming here connected me back to the Anglican boarding school I went to in Rhodesia from the age of 13 to 18,” recalled a vestry member. • Roman Catholics, drawn by the familiarity of the liturgy combined with an undogmatic openness that brought spiritual comfort. “I walked in the door and found a connection here,” said one Catholic. • Lambda Group gays and lesbians, who turned out to be the most eloquent witnesses of the day. Their testimonies provided concrete proof that the Cathedral’s self-proclaimed openness was real. A young Frenchman, representing his group, told of coming from a conservative evangelical background and wanting a Christ-centered church that was also gay-friendly. “I tried some liberal gay-friendly churches,” he recalled, but found “watered-down religion. Nice, but no more. My partner was raised Catholic. We’ve found a middle ground. I feel I can grow in my faith here.”
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12 Session one was about a communal meal; session two got into the ingredients, as parishioners engaged the question: What strengths do these stories reveal about our church? With the answers, the atmosphere of witness gave way to businesslike list-making. The inclusiveness theme (community, welcome, diversity, openness) won mention from every one of the small groups. Taken together, liturgy, music and sermons – the total experience of the Sunday service – came in a close second. Next in line was education, including youth programs, Sunday school and adult education. The other multiple mentions: the beauty of the space; the invitation to the Lord’s Table; Christ-centeredness; accessibility of the clergy; and good management. Others: “latitude (you can be in any number of different places on the journey of faith)”; “ability to take people into the congregation and swiftly take advantage of their talents”; reliability (“we show up”); attractiveness (“a joyful community”); gay-friendliness; “unabashedly Episcopalian.”
This part of the program did, however, bring out some themes that suggested a real sense of unmet goals in the Cathedral’s work. The widest-held of these, as one parishioner put it: “We should open ourselves up to the world.” Others spoke of ecumenical outreach and ties with local groups. The francophone group was particularly strong on this, suggesting specifically francophone activities and better communications with local groups outside the church.
Comments from the congregation
Preached one parishioner: “We’re not a place for the saved but a hospital for sinners.” This sense of needing to open ourselves wider came with an accompanying feeling of helplessness in prescribing just how to do it. Other specific ideas: “to know each other better”; “to plan how to use our new space for education and financial benefit”; “to become more unambiguous and audible about our faith”; and “to provide better support for the elderly in our community.” One counterintuitive stinger: “This church is very intellectual – not enough heart.”
The final sessions addressed this question: What qualities do we need in the next Dean and Rector?
The third set of sessions tackled this question: Where is God calling us to go in the future? Predictably, the answers were largely the strengths catalogued in the second round. At the plenary session, Bishop Whalon summed up the findings: No radical changes; build on strengths.
Primarily the new Dean should be deeply spiritual, theologically engaged, a gifted preacher and a caring pastor. The candidate to be called should also be a proven fund-raiser, successful administrator, extrovert, innovator, good delegator and “comfortable with all sorts and conditions of
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13 people.” After these basics came dozens of other recommendations. Among them: experience living outside the U.S.; ability to expand education programs; “a deep person of prayer”; experience with diversity; 62 years of age or younger and willing to stay 10 years; and committed to “continuing to welcome all to the Lord’s Table.” One subject alone raised heated discussion: how much fluency in French the new Dean should have. When Bishop Pierre observed how difficult it is for a new Dean to learn French and also cope with Cathedral duties, and therefore how important it was for a serious candidate to speak some French, a number of parishioners rose up in opposition to requiring any degree of fluency in French. One parishioner argued: “I fear we will miss a wonderful candidate if we fixate on this and that your committee will waste time on candidates who otherwise are not suitable if French ability is given too high a rating.” As the day of discernment ended, the attendees left on a note of something gained, not just something sought. One parishioner paused on leaving the Cathedral and posed one last question to nobody in particular: “Why do we have to have an excuse to come together like this?” Perhaps the new Dean, whoever he or she turns out to be, will add that challenge to the day’s daunting list of other “to do’s.” Joseph Coyle, a retired Time, Inc. editor, has been active at the Cathedral for more than 10 years. Photography by Anne Swardson
The American Cathedral is looking for a new Dean and Rector.
Do you know someone who might be the right priest to lead this dynamic, historic parish? The Dean Search Committee would like to hear from you. To read the 2012 Parish Profile and learn about the search process, applications, and nominations, please visit www.americancathedral.org or write email@example.com
All applications and nominations are confidential
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Finding a place in the Lambda Group For gay and lesbian Christians, a home at – and in – the Cathedral By Nancy Janin
In July 2003 delegates to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church gave their consent to the election of the Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. The historic decision to ordain an openly gay, partnered priest to the episcopate was lamented by some and celebrated by others, and continues to shake-up the Anglican Communion. It confused and still confuses many, and already it has changed the Episcopal Church – and the American Cathedral in Paris
At his installation as Bishop of New Hampshire, Robinson proclaimed, “It’s not about me; it’s about so many other people who find themselves on the margins.” One of those who felt marginalized from the church was a French charismatic Catholic, Jean-Marc Robinet. After years without attending church he had recovered his faith and was looking for a church home where he could grow in Christ and be accepted for who he was.
Like many gay Christians around the world, Robinet, who manages e-learning for the 45,000 employees of the Parisian transportation network, closely followed religious discussions about homosexuality, mainly on the internet, hoping someday the hostility they felt from mainline Christian denominations would end. This group awaited the decision facing Episcopalians in the summer of 2003 with great trepidation – and cheered the outcome.
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While in some quarters the affirmative vote on Robinson signaled an end to their relationship with the Episcopal church, for Robinet it was the beginning. Immediately after the vote he typed “Episcopal Church Paris” into his search engine and up popped “The American Cathedral in Paris.” His first visit was at the Saturday evening Frenchlanguage service, where he found to his surprise that the celebrant was a woman (the Rev. Sharon Gracen, then canon pastor). Gay-friendly, womanfriendly, beautiful space, familiar liturgy – Robinet felt his long search for a spiritual home was over. He could be gay and Christian and loved. With this happy beginning he felt he should let the wider LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Christian community know that there was a place where they could reconcile their faith with their sexuality. His first thought was to ally the Cathedral with the Episcopal Church’s LGBT affiliated group, Integrity. However, after consultations with then - Dean Zachary Fleetwood, a plan was presented to the vestry to start the Cathedral’s own group. It would focus primarily on the spiritual needs of its members, and it would develop its own personality informed by its unique position as an affiliate of an American church in Paris and with the somewhat differing experiences of LGBT people in France. The vestry gave its approval to the creation of the Lambda Group in September 2004. Why “Lambda” Group? This Greek letter has come to be associated with gay causes since the 1970s when organizers were drawn to it as a symbol of unity (Greek Spartans) and of the light of knowledge shining in darkness (Romans). According to one gay-friendly website it gained common usage when it was used by the Gay
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Activist Alliance of New York City to advertise gatherings, hoping that that those hostile to their activities would assume it was some sort of fraternity meeting and thus leave them in peace. More importantly for the Cathedral, lambda is pronounced the same way in French and English.
The founders expected to discuss issues such as: Was St. Paul a homophobe? How does the message of Jesus help us better accept ourselves as gay? Is coming out a spiritual experience? How can one be cured of internalized homophobia? How can one use one’s homosexuality for spiritual growth?
In the 32-page project proposal for establishing the Cathedral’s Lambda Group, the activities envisaged were, in order: Bible study, exchange of experiences, a prayer group, a spiritual reflection forum, and fellowship.
Lambda has covered all of these topics and many more in its monthly meetings, which are often led by outside speakers, including Louie Crew, founder of Integrity; Richard Kirker, founder of the UK Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement; and Jean-Michel Dunand, author of the French book,”Libre – de la honte à la lumière” (“Free – from shame to light”) and the spiritual leader of the Communion Béthanie.
Writing new vows On March 8, 2012 the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) delivered to the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies an 84-page report entitled “I Will Bless You, and You Will Be a Blessing: Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships.” The report was the response to a resolution at the 2009 General Convention that directed the SCLM to develop theological and liturgical resources for blessing samegender relationships (Resolution 2009-C056). The report will now be considered by the church’s two legislative bodies, Bishops and Deputies, and will be presented to General Convention to be held in Indianapolis July 5-12. As a member of the SCLM, our Bishop-in-Charge, Pierre Whalon, has spent much time these last three years in reflection and theological study. Further, Bishop Whalon is responsible for the French translation of the second part of the document, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant: Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender relationship.” He reports that “The Lambda Group has been evaluating and translating the materials at my request.” Delphine Kilhoffer, Lambda Group member and professional translator, was hired to write the official text that will be spoken by Frenchspeaking same-gender couples around the world at their blessing ceremonies. The report can be read at: http://houseofdeputies.org/blessingexcerpts
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The latter led the first retreat of the Lambda Group in November 2011, entitled “The Church, It’s Us!” The 16 participants spent two days off-site in personal and group prayer, group discussions, silence, worship and fellowship with the aim to “…receive the internal certainty that the Church needs the hands even of those who feel excluded from it, that the Church is each and every one of us, called to shine, joyfully and humbly, as promised in the Gospel, through and in our own humanity.” In addition to the monthly meetings and occasional off-site movie or museum visits, the Lambda Group sponsors a dinner every January and an “inclusive celebration of God’s Unconditional Love for All” service each June. Activities are open to “all who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and to their friends and families.” It is difficult to quantify Lambda Group membership, as there are no dues or registration forms. Lambda has an email list numbering close to 150, but the monthly meetings usually attract around 20 people; the off-site events fewer; and the dinner and special services many more. Not all of those attending the events are gay. Several Lambda group members remarked that they were touched that they had so many straight “allies” at the Cathedral – in addition to strong clergy participation, volunteer cooks have prepared their dinners, other parishioners have sung at the special services, and many have come to hear the speakers. Members come through many paths. Philip Cacouris, head of international relations at Institut Français de la Mode, was already an Episcopalian, and he was glad to find that there was an LGBT
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group at the Cathedral when he arrived in Paris. Actor Hope Newhouse, after being rejected by her Parisian Orthodox church, was brought to a Cathedral service by her parents who, living in the U.S., knew more about the position of the Episcopal Church than she did. Dean Fleetwood’s sermon that day – on the theme of hope – reinforced her sense that she had come to the right place.
Bishop Lee addresses the Lambda Group
Newhouse’s wife, Delphine Kilhoffer, had never attended church despite being baptized, because she knew at an early age she was lesbian and that the Catholic church her grandmother wanted her to attend would never accept that. She “fell in love” with the Cathedral when she and Hope came together and discovered a spirituality she had always thought was off-limits for her. When she heard Dean Fleetwood’s words of unconditional invitation to Christ’s table before communion she says “they went straight to my heart. But openness alone doesn’t make you stay,” she adds, praising, “a community not afraid of complexity or paradox.” Many French gays and lesbians continue to find their way to us as Robinet did, through internet searches, or through discussions in the gay Christian community here. For Jean-Baptiste Larauza the entry point was the Lambda Group’s website. He was raised in “a very practicing Catholic family … as a college student I fell away: the church was rejecting me because I was gay.” He tells how he, like Delphine and others, Lambda Group members or not, was “bouleversé” when he
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first heard the Dean’s invitation to the Eucharist. Some make their way to the Lambda Group but find it problematic to move beyond that into the fuller life of the Cathedral. Théophile Mallo, who came to the group in 2005 and has led many of its meetings, was raised in a free Evangelical church and avoided the Cathedral services for years since he “wasn’t keen at all on anything that looked to be Roman Catholic.” Now a regular church-goer he says, “There are still some high church elements I don’t feel comfortable with, but for me the most important thing is that I’m part of a congregation that welcomes me just as I am and that allows me and my partner to be wholly recognized as full church members.” Although a few members limit their Cathedral involvement to the Lambda Group only, most eventually become active in other areas of the Cathedral community life. Lambda Group members interviewed could quickly rattle off a long list of activities in which their members participate – serving as ushers, acolytes, lectors, ministers of communion and choristers, participating in the 20s and 30s group, the education committee, and Bible Study, and being elected to the vestry and appointed to the Dean search committee. “First we are members of the parish, then Lambda,” Newhouse says. “Our group is not a satellite but a part of the Cathedral.” The group has a higher representation of French people than the Cathedral as a whole. Several speculated that this may be because gay Americans, especially the younger ones, seem to feel less stigmatized in general, and in church specifically. Winky Thomas, a retiree who lived in Paris for five years, said that other than the dinners and special services, she and her late wife, Sandy Murphy, hadn’t participated in Lambda. “We didn’t need programs to convince us we were OK,” she said, although she enjoyed the friendship and welcome of the Lambda group members. At the other extreme, some Lambda Group members attend only the meetings, not yet ready to let the wider Cathedral community, or their families, know of their sexual orientation. Newhouse, who took over from Robinet as leader of the group in the fall of 2011, says that is all fine and normal – “If people get something out of the Lambda Group that is wonderful – if they don’t feel they need it, then the Cathedral’s welcome to all is clearly working.”
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The Cathedral is one of few churches for LGBT Christians in Paris. While there are several gay Christian organizations offering retreats, prayer meetings, Bible studies and the like, few established churches welcome gays, and only a handful make that welcome explicit. It is no wonder that many gays decide, as Kilhoffer had, that the church, and a spiritual life, is not open to them. Others persist despite a host of obstacles they face: hearing anti-gay messages from the pulpit, needing to pretend to be straight, being pitied for their “shameful” condition, being urged to change.
James R. Leo (1933-2011) The Very Reverend James R. Leo, 7th Dean of the Cathedral, died on December 14, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio, after a long illness. He served the Cathedral from 1980 to 1991, and went on to become rector of Christ Church in Cincinnati, becoming its dean when it became the cathedral of the diocese of Southern Ohio in 1993. He retired in 1998 and enjoyed traveling the world with his wife, Patsy. Born in 1933, Leo grew up in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, attended Bucknell University, served two years in the United States Army, and graduated from General Theological Seminary in New York City and became an Episcopal priest in 1962.
Lambda Group meeting - November 2011
It is hard for those who have only felt acceptance and love from the church to imagine the intense longing for a spiritual life that is required to continue seeking in such conditions. What straight people take for granted seemed an unattainable vision to the LGBT community less than a decade ago. As Robinet says, at the Cathedral he can finally be “joyously gay and Christian.” You can meet many of the Lambda Group members via the YouTube clip Gay et Chrétien(e), c’est possible ? (http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=go3ZVyV9940&feature=mfu_in_ order&list=UL) And follow the discussion on http://lambda.blogspirit.com Nancy Janin is head of the development committee and co-editor of Trinite.
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While at the Cathedral Dean Leo welcomed three U.S. presidents or ex-presidents (Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush). He was personal chaplain to Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, relayed the news of her death to Queen Elizabeth, and presided over her memorial service and burial in England. He captured many of his experiences in a memoir, Exits and Entrances. He was known and loved by parishioners for his warmth and joie de vivre. After leaving the Cathedral Dean Leo continued to support the church through fundraising efforts in the United States, particularly through the Friends of the American Cathedral. Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Patricia Elliman Leo, two sons, Dr. Jonathan Leo, The Reverend Jason Leo, their wives, Susan and Jeannie, and six grandchildren.
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Connecting the unconnected A Cathedral mission project teaches basic computer skills to France’s poor and dispossessed By Anne Swardson
The elderly woman squinted at the unfamiliar computer screen, looked down at the keyboard, and painstakingly typed a few words. So far so good. The volunteer showing her the basics of a computer nodded approvingly. The woman typed a few more words and watched the letters appear on the screen. When her cursor reached the end of the line, she looked up. “This is all very well,” she asked, “but how do I jump to the next line?” So it goes at Maison des Tilleuls, the community center north of Paris where about a dozen volunteers, largely from the
American Cathedral, teach low-income, mostly immigrant residents the most elementary technological skills. Those who come for free lessons at the center in the town of Le Blanc Mesnil often have never typed on a keyboard, held a mouse or been on the Internet. And yet today nothing is more vital than being able to use a computer. Anyone who can’t is shut out of many types of jobs and even access to education – and at times shut out of self-esteem. Those who come to learn often have adolescent or adult children at home who have computers and know how to use them. The parent is not permitted to try because, as one headscarf-wearing woman quoted her son as saying, “Maman, t’es nul.” You’re a zero. Compare that to the sight of three women – one in a headscarf and two in African garb – high-fiving one another when they finally manage to send emails to each other. Or to the man who learns how to email his brother back in Senegal. Or to the woman who diligently practices typing Saturday after Saturday because she wants to apply for a job. “All of us who have volunteered
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as mentors see how the work we do at the Maison des Tilleuls makes a difference,” said Cathedral parishioner Audrey Jolivet-Habiby, who coordinates the program. In addition to job searches or communicating, “Sometimes it’s a well-deserved breather for young mothers who have no time at home for themselves. For older people, it’s also a way to break through some of the isolation they can feel.” The program sprang from the riots of November 2005, when the center was badly damaged by fires set by angry residents of the bleak apartment complex. Insurance company Axa donated about 12 computers as part of the rebuilding effort, and parishioner Joan Richardson organized teams to offer the lessons. Volunteer John Freed maintains the computers – a tricky task since some haven’t been replaced since 2005 – and the Internet network. The sessions are once a week, on Saturdays, and volunteers work with the students one-on-one or sometimes one teacher for two students. About six students usually attend the two-hour sessions. The 33-year-old center, which is also home to such
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activities as brocantes, math tutoring and Arabic classes, welcomes the Cathedral’s contribution since the staff has no capacity to offer the courses themselves. “The center is a haven of mutual aid and solidarity,” said director Olivier Canzillon. “The computer courses, open to everyone, lets those with no experience benefit from support. The volunteers work at the rhythm of each student so they all can profit from this introduction to information technology and communication.” As Canzillon puts it, it’s not just the students who are enriched. As with all the cathedral mission projects, those who give their time and talent come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of the lives of those they are touching. Anne Swardson is chair of the Cathedral’s Mission and Outreach Committee and an editor-at-large with Bloomberg News. Photography by Ann Dushane
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to be replaced
Emma Full Figure
Oil on Canvas 27 1/2 x 42 1/4 inches
JERRY WHITWORTH PORTRAITS IN OIL 1.212.925.8568 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Published on Jun 30, 2015