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Bixby News

Letter regarding potential building purchase

20 October 2017 | by Bixby

Below is a letter that seeks to explain our current situation as we look toward the possibility of purchasing a building for our church plant. It is from a friend and fellow church member Vincent Dormieux, a French businessman who is part of the leadership in our mother church at Saint Denis. We trust it will help you better understand the opportunity and need.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The goal of this letter is to give you a better understanding of recent developments in the search for a more permanent meeting place for the Sarcelles church plant (Eglise Biblique Baptiste du Grand Roissy).

When I was 3 years old, my family moved to Sarcelles, and that is the city where I grew up. Now 53 years old, I was raised as a Roman Catholic and became a Christian 11 years ago, having been led to the Lord by an American co-worker. I have been a member of the Baptist church of Saint Denis since shortly after my conversion.

I would like first to give you a bit of background. Originally Sarcelles was a quiet farming village built around its 13th century church, in the midst of orchards, 10 miles north of Paris. In the 1960s, with the aggressive growth of the French economy and the rural exodus, it became necessary to build housing for this new population everywhere around Paris.

In this context, it was decided to build an entire “ville nouvelle” (new town) in the north of Paris, just one mile south of the village of Sarcelles: “le Nouveau Sarcelles”. While the population of “Sarcelles Village” was around 8,000 in the 1950s, le Nouveau Sarcelles was designed to house 50,000 people in brand new 5- to 10-story condominiums built around wide avenues in a model town. Although the project was ambitious and designed for middle-class French baby boomer families, le Nouveau Sarcelles soon lost its attraction and became progressively populated by an economically lower-class population.

Today Sarcelles (Nouveau and Village) is a community of 57,000 people with a very wide range of ethnic/religious backgrounds including: French (many of this group were repatriated from North Africa when France lost its colony there, helping to explain why 1/3 of the population in Sarcelles practices the Jewish religion; among this group are also many from the Caribbean islands); North Africans (i.e. Maghreb, usually Muslims, 1/3 of the population is Muslim); Africans; Turkish (many of this group are Assyro-Chaldean Christians, a rather recent immigration).

The church of Sarcelles was organized about two years ago by members of the mother church of Saint Denis (Eglise Evangélique Baptiste de Saint Denis, five miles south of Sarcelles), in an effort to plant a church in this spiritually needy area. With a regular attendance of around 30 to 40, this group currently meets on Sundays in a room rented in a restaurant on the southern fringe of Sarcelles Village (only 300 yards from where my aged parents still live).

Obviously, this situation can only be temporary, and Tim Bixby and Michael Cole and the other church members have been looking for two years for a more stable situation, i.e. a building or a room that they could rent or buy. Finding a new hall has not been an easy thing, especially since, on top of finding a suitable place, they also need to meet strict safety rules imposed on “buildings used to receive the public” (number of fire exits, number of parking spots). The church in Saint Denis and the church in Sarcelles have been fervently praying to find such a building.

Now it seems that a door is being opened by the Lord. At the end of September, Tim became aware of a meeting hall that will soon be available located very close to where they currently meet. It is a 5000-square-foot room on the second floor of a brand new building, occupied on the first floor by a Ford dealership. This hall has been built to receive 300 people and seems to be already in compliance with safety rules. This Ford dealership is located halfway between Sarcelles village and le Nouveau Sarcelles, on a main highway in front of a recently built mall.

Tim, along with another of the pastors from the Saint Denis/Sarcelles churches, has met with the management team of this Ford dealership. These people seem to be very serious about this possibility, and are not opposed to renting to a church (which is not a minor thing in this area). This business is a large dealership with seven branches in the French département (equivalent to a county) of the Val d’Oise. They first discussed the possibility of renting, but more recently they have begun seriously discussing the possibility of selling the facility to the church.

The option of buying seems to be the most attractive. The space is extremely well located in a fast-growing, densely populated district, not far from Charles de Gaulle airport. It is about 10 miles north of Paris, and such a facility would tremendously help the church develop its influence in the département.

From a spiritual point of view, France is a barren land. All the fruits of its great Christian past, with Calvin, Farel, Beza and their fellow reformers withered away a long time ago. True Christianity is scarcely present, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is hardly preached. So the need for theologically sound, Bible-believing churches in France is enormous, and all the more so within a multi-ethnic population where the name of Christ is often just not even known.

Now, there is the question of financing. The present owners have suggested that 850,000 € would be needed to fully own the place. The amount may seem big, but one must keep in mind that this facility is close to Paris, it is very large (5,000 square feet) and it is brand new. To give you a point of comparison: an apartment of only 1,000 square feet in the center of Paris would cost around 600,000 to 800,000 €. So in that sense, the price seems rather attractive.

The available savings of the two churches of Saint Denis and Sarcelles combined are nowhere near such an amount of money. We do not doubt that our church members will sacrificially give for this project, but this will not be sufficient. This is why we ask you to prayerfully consider the possibility of contributing to the financing of this project.

Thank you for your interest in the work in France.

Sincerely in Christ,

Vincent Dormieux

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