Reformed Protestant Church of Alsace and Lorraine
|Church Family :|
|Based in :||France|
|Present in :|
|Member Of :|
|Associate Member Of :|
|WCC Member Since :||1948|
(Eglise protestante réformée d'Alsace et de Lorraine, EPRAL)
It was Jean Calvin himself who founded the first Reformed congregation in Strasburg. Thus the Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine has its origins in the very early time of the 16th century Reformation. The church is spread over the north-eastern part of France with concentrations in the regions of Mulhouse and Metz. Strasburg itself and some enclaves in the north of Alsace and the Vosges are only small minority communities. Being in the diaspora is a permanent reality of this church, and requires very mobile forms of pastoral ministry. This has always been a challenge for the ERAL, which has consistently emphasized the commitment and participation of the laity. Almost all the pastoral positions are filled. There is no significant crisis in pastoral vocations and the older pastors are being replaced by the younger generation. The EPRAL has a concordat with the state, which means that the salaries of the pastors are paid by the government. However, all other expenses and in particular the maintenance of a great number of buildings have to be covered by the members of the church.
The main difficulties of the EPRAL have to do on the one hand with the fact that it is scattered over a wide area (because of the mobility of the population, the members of a same congregation who used to live in one village are now dispersed), and on the other hand with the general phenomenon of de-Christianization. The latter also has, of course, financial implications. In order to cope with the situation the EPRAL has conceived of pastoral ministries which do not only serve a local community but have also other commitments: chaplaincies in medical and social institutions, youth work in geographical sectors, public speaking, cultural testimonies, pastoral work with tourists, evangelization, and new relationships with those who have distanced themselves from the church. With a view to providing a relevant witness, the EPRAL has undertaken an important activity of biblical and theological formation of the laity.
In 2006 the EPRAL and the Church of the Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine established the Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine (UEPAL). The new body is not a united church but it provides a common decision making structure and a single body of pastors.