How the Lord planted us
Christ Church Brittany began, as many good things do, in a very small way.
The Reverend Roger Fray and his wife Beri felt called to move to Brittany in 1999, and started holding services in their own home near Ploërmel, with a congregation of about six people.
As the numbers gradually grew, so the need for more space became obvious, and in 2000 the Roman Catholic Bishop of Vannes kindly arranged for rooms to be available in the Maison Mère des Frères in Ploërmel. The Brothers have always given every possible help and encouragement.
In 2003 saw the opening of a separate outreach Centre in Ploërmel. This was known as ‘La Source’, and housed not only the Church Offices but also an Information Centre. This was set up with the intention of assisting English newcomers with integration into France, as a drop-in centre for anyone needing a quiet chat or a moment of help and as a meeting room for the congregation. The English Library became housed here, and with a kitchen nearby it was a pleasant place to welcome all comers for a cup of tea or coffee. La Source was , in many cases, the door through which people entered Christ Church. Having been welcomed, and in many cases helped by the volunteers manning La Source, there seemed to be a need to know more about this church whose members had such a care for others. And so, the congregation continued to grow, and to meld together.
June 2005 saw the signing of an agreement between Revd Roger Fray and Abbé Guy Marzin in conjunction with the Diocese of St Brieuc and the Mairie of Rostrenen, allowing the use of Bonen Church for Anglican services and services began to be held there once a month in addition to those at Ploërmel.
There was also a need for a regular church service for people living further north and west and eventually Huelgoat in Finistere was chosen for a more permanent base to serve this area. With the help of local French clergy we were given the use of a church in the centre of Huelgoat and services have now taken place there on a Sunday afternoon for some time. In the last twelve months or so numbers have grown as word is spread of this regular church service.
Late in 2005, Roger and Beri Fray announced their intention to move further South, into the Vendée region of France, where they would be involved in the work of Le Pas Opton. Christ Church went into a time of Interregnum, ably supported by the Readers, The Rev. Michael Granger, and the Rev John Marvell, retired ministers, and the Church Wardens. It was also at this time that a move to another building became imminent.
Instead of two rented buildings, with the corresponding costs, Christ Church were privileged to be offered a deconsecrated Church within the benefice of the Maison Mère. This is also in Ploërmel, and has much more room for all the Church activities. There is the La Source office, still there to welcome and assist all comers, and manned by volunteers on a Friday morning and is also open on a Sunday morning. The English Library now has a larger area and a good choice of books. A meeting room allows gatherings, coffee mornings and lunches to take place, and also became a place where other groups, such as the Mothers and Toddlers, could meet weekly. On the first floor is the Chapel, seating around 80 people, where the Services take place. There is a good sized vestry and Vicar’s office next to the Chapel.
With help and advice from Bishop David, Suffragan Bishop of France, a new priest in charge, the Rev. Hazel Door was appointed, and began her ministry at Christ Church in January 2007.
October 2007 saw the last service in Bonen Church – Harvest Festival followed by shared lunch in the Parish Rooms at Rostrenen. Then on November 25th 2007 the first service of Holy Communion in the Chapel of the Collège/Lycée de Campostal, Rostrenen took place. The new premises being found with the assistance of Abbé Jean Campion of Rostrenen and the Headmaster, Mr Rémy Le Vot.
Christ Church Brittany has continued to grow and congregations now meet for services on a weekly basis in Ploërmel, fortnightly in Rostrenen and monthly in Huelgoat. There are also Home Groups now meeting regularly in, or close to, Ploërmel, Rostrenen, Redon, St Vran and Bannalec. In November 2008 the Diocese granted Christ Church Brittany full Chaplaincy status.
In addition to the regular services there are many social events that take place throughout the Chaplaincy. These include coffee mornings, social evenings, concerts, BBQ’s etc. All of these help to bring fellowship to members of the congregation and it is hoped to encourage non churchgoers to see the activities of the church.
Christ Church Brittany has close ties with French churches in the Region and many joint services take place, including a number of what have now become annual Carol services at Christmas.
The congregations of Christ Church consist of people from many varying denominational backgrounds, most live here in France but we also see many visitors to Brittany who attend our services. Christ Church is primarily there for English speakers in France but all are welcome, whatever the background or language spoken.
In July 2010 Hazel returned to her permanent home in the Poitou Charente and Christ Church entered a period of interregnum and are currently seeking to appoint a new Minister.
On 1st July 2012 the Reverend Jeremy Cross was appointed temporary Priest in Charge and we were delighted that we were able to benefit from his wise and generous ministry at Christ Church for the next fifteen months.
On 5th October 2013 the Venerable Fred Trethewey was appointed Priest in Charge for a three year period. Before joining Christ Church, Fred was an Archdeacon in the Diocese of Worcester and we benefitted from his wide experience as he ministered to us. Fred was joined by his wife Margaret and they returned to their home in the Cotswolds in early October 2016.
The Revd Jeremy Cross again stepped in and was appointed Interim Minister during the interregnum whilst we started the process to appoint a new Chaplain.
We were pleased to announce the appointment of a new Chaplain, the Revd Robin Adams and his wife Donna who started February 1st 2018