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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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French Lutherans want links with the U.S.

'Help us overcome our prejudices,' says church president

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of France hopes its country can rebuild links with the U.S. that were damaged by the Iraqi war. “In the past we have had very fruitful ties with America, and I am hoping that now that passions have calmed, we’ll be able to establish new forms of cooperation,” said Joël Dautheville, president of the denomination.

The church is divided into two “inspections.” Montbéliard has 24 parishes with 30,000 Lutherans. The Paris Inspection, which includes Lyon, Marseille and Nice, has 23 parishes with 6,000 worshipers.

L'église des Billettes is the oldest
L’église des Billettes is the oldest Lutheran church in Paris, consecrated in 1809.
Montbéliard is a land of wide, fast-flowing rivers and dark deciduous forests, with a population of 120,000. It’s home to Peugeot, the French automaker, whose founding family was Lutheran. It was ruled from the 14th century by the Dukes of Wurtemberg (Germany). They created a Lutheran enclave that survived Roman Catholic persecution and the Wars of Religion until it became a part of post-revolutionary France in 1793.

“Traditionally our support comes from the East—Germany in the main—but during the 1960s and 70s American Lutherans, many of them about to embark on missionary work in [French] territories in Africa, would come here to help in the work of the church and practice their French,” Dautheville said. “I would like American pastors to come here again and help us to overcome our prejudices.”


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