In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
More than 500 people participated in the convention of the National Union of Protestant Reformed Evangelical Churches (UNEPREF). Church planting, environmental care were also discussed.
The National Union of Protestant Reformed Evangelical Churches (UNEPREF) celebrated its annual convention in Anduze (France) last weekend, 6-8 May.
One of the major decisions during the weekend was the welcome of three churches which had left the EPUdF (United Protestant Church of France) after the historic Protestante denomination decided to start marrying homosexual couples. The CNEF (National Council of Evangelicals in France), among others, criticised the decision saying it clashed against the authority of the Bible.
Jean-Raymond Stauffacher, President of the UNEPREF, expllained this move to Evangelical Focus. “During its synod in March 2105, our denomination took a position against homosexual marriage. As the result of the May 2015 vote opening the possibility of the benediction of homosexual couples of the EPUdF, but also for more general doctrinal questions, 3 churches who had belonged to the EPUDF decided to ask our denomination to join us as associate churches (a 3 year status that allows churches to obtain the UNEPREF label)”.
“Our synode approved these 3 churches situated in Meaux (near Paris), Thiers (near Clermont-Ferrand) and St Laurent du Pape (near Montélimar) on Saturday 7th of May.”
RESTRUCTURARION TO BETTER SERVE THE MISSION
During the convention, other decisions were taken, like an internal restructuration focusing on three big areas: mission, formation and the commitment of every believer.
A document on environmental care produced by the Protestant Evangelical Ethics Comission was also approved: Christians facing the challenge of climate and the environment: the hope of the hummingbird.
THE SITUATION OF THE CHURCHES
What is the distuation of the denomination at the moment? “The UNEPREF carries the question of the mission and growth of rural churches, who are often today in difficult situations”, Stauffacher told Evangelical Focus.
“For the last 30 years, it also has had a new church plant rate of 1 church every 3 years. It has developed over time several partnerships with international missions in the USA, Holland and, most recently, with the Presbyterian Church of Brazil and its mission, the APMT”.
WHAT IS UNEPREF?
The UNEPREF regroups 48 churches (and 48 pastors). They are mostly situated in the South of France in an arc going from Bordeaux to Marseille. Half of its churches are churches founded either at the time of the Reformation or during the 17th century and are situated in rural settings. The other half are new church plants in urban settings.
The denomination is “Presbyterian in its organisation and Calvinist in its theology”. It is a member of the French Protestant Federation (FPF) as well as associate member of the CNEF.