The Occitanie is the region of France which contains the second-highest number of people who have come to France from the United Kingdom and for whom English is their first language. The French Statistical Office (INSEE) estimates that there are somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 British people who live in the Occitanie and nearly as many again for whom English is their first language.
People who come to live in this beautiful region often wish to continue to attend a Church, but find either that their denomination is not represented within easy reach for travel or perhaps is not present in this area at all. In some cases, they may feel estranged from their own church for a variety of reasons.
ECO has been set up to provide a holy space for English-speaking Christians in the Occitanie to meet and to worship both online and in person in a Protestant Ecumenical setting. Our services are usually broadcast both on Zoom, so that you can join in directly, and also simultaneously on YouTube so that you can watch the service privately. You are welcome to come to any of our services in person. We always finish our services with a Zoom Virtual Coffee Bar (or Wine Bar depending on the time of day !) and you are also invited to join us there to get to meet your fellow-worshippers.
Many members of our Ministry Team are men and women who are theologically qualified, and have been ministers/worship leaders, lay or ordained, in a Protestant demomination. Many members of the Ministry Team are Members or Associate Members of the Iona Religious Community and subscribe to the Community’s Principles.
As a worshipping community we are very aware of the need for proper Safeguarding procedures and all members of our Ministry Team have undertaken or are in the process of completing French Criminal Record checks. For more information, please see the page dedicated to Safeguarding by clicking Safeguarding on the top menu.
Funding. Unusually for a Church, we do not ask you to donate money to us if you worship with us. We do not make collections at our live events. It is our Members who have committed themselves to provide the financial support necessary to enable our community to flourish and grow. If you insist that you wish to provide financial support, you may do so and will receive a French Certificat Fiscal if you request one.
As St Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 verse 7: "Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge?"
Otherwise, we invite you to donate money or goods to a religious charity or to one of the three charities which we support who work to relieve poverty and suffering in the Occitanie:
Restos du Coeur and
Cancer Support France
We abide by the teachings of Matthew 6:1:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Our Ministers do not charge or receive any fees if they conduct a funeral or the blessing of a marriage, but ask only that their travel and associated costs be re-imbursed using the mileage rates set by the French Government.
Our Members come from many different denominations but share a common desire to worship God. We agree to respect each other’s theological differences but to set these aside in order to focus on what binds us together – our belief in the divinity of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
You are most welcome to join us in worship while continuing to worship in another Church – we do not claim to be the exclusive path to righteousness and salvation. We do not demand that you break links with other churches in order to worship with us. You are most welcome to join us from time to time while continuing to offer worship to God as a member of another Church. We are not subject to the authority of any other religious organisation but show mutual respect to those placed in authority within their own Churches. All members of our Ministry Team have renounced any permissions or authorities to lead worship in any other denomination.
Our liturgies are drawn from many places and from different theological traditions.
When we celebrate Holy Communion online, we do not direct you to one specific belief about the nature of the bread and wine after prayers have been said over it. Each person must decide for themselves whether the bread and wine they consume in their own homes represents an Agape Love Feast, a fulfilment of Jesus’ instruction to his Disciples at the Last Supper to “do this in remembrance of me” or His actual Body and Blood. You do not need to be confirmed to join us in a celebration of Holy Communion. We believe that God's Table is open to all who affirm Jesus as our Saviour.
Membership of our Community is not automatic. Regrettably, we have witnessed elsewhere the abuse of French Laws regarding membership and management of an Association Cultuelle to seek to frustrate the work and mission of the Church. Membership is therefore granted only by an invitation from the existing members. Most people who join us for worship will be supporters and visitors and are of course most welcome.
ECO is registered as an Association Cultuelle under the French Lois de 1901 and 1905 and has recently completed its registration for the next 5 years (2023 - 2028) in accordance with the new French laws governing religious organisations.
Some Legal Stuff
Please note that we often meet in premises which do not belong to us or have not been rented by us. Such premises are on loan and we must respect the wishes of the owner regarding their use. The proprietors of loaned premises retain the legal right to exclude any person of their choosing from their premises and we regret that we cannot override this. Similarly, all Zoom, Facebook and YouTube broadcasts are governed by those organisations' Terms and Conditions of Service concerning the conduct of participants.
Where, for public health reasons, restrictions and procedures are required by the Government of France, ECO will abide by these without objection and it is a requirement of admission to any of our in-person events that anyone attending will do so too.
Although we operate a mailing list which you are welcome to join in order to keep you informed about our worship, we do not disclose the contents to any third parties under any circumstances other than in compliance with the requirements of French Law..