Our community is composed for the most part of French people, often permanently established in London, sometimes short term. It also includes many French-speaking families wishing to live a Protestant way of life. We currently number more than fifty children in our midst.
The church’s very central location, its history, architecture and remarkable library are a draw to many, some travelling far to meet the community and take part in its spiritual life.
Pastor Stéphane Desmarais, together with his wife Cindy and a dynamic Consistory, guarantee the smooth running of the Church.
Stéphane Desmarais took over from Pastor Annie Chapon, who had been serving the community for nearly 10 years. He arrived from his previous post – in French Guyana – in the summer of 2013. He officiates at most Sunday services throughout the year; in August he has a replacement, so that church life can continue. He is also in charge of children’s Sunday school and holds regular interfaith meetings with other clergy in the City of Westminster. His wife, actively involved by his side, is a nurse working one week a month in France. The couple ensure both the spiritual and functional life of the community.
Led by its president Carole de Saint-Affrique, the Consistory is the hub around which turn the life, the activity and the smooth running of the French Protestant Church in Soho.
It is made up of 11 members, some of whom hold a more defined role than others – secretary, finance officer/treasurer, librarian… A somewhat larger team assists them on the various phases of the major church renovation programme which is being put into place for 2018/2019.
Ourania Gassiou is a young Greek organist who has served our community with talent and competence for over 10 years. Ourania first studied piano at the Nakas conservatoire, where she obtained her diploma with the highest distinction in 1999. She studied under Nicolas Kynaston at the Royal Academy of Music, where she graduated, receiving a Dip RAM, the highest award for musical performance. Ourania has taken part in innumerable concerts, festivals and master classes with many prestigious musicians.
The Trust, which controls and manages the assets bequeathed by Huguenot descendants, is made up of three members appointed by the Consistory and six to ten external Trustees who, though not members of the Soho Church, are descended from Huguenots. The income from Trust funds is allocated to the day-to-day running of the church (Church fund), to educational charitable purposes (Education fund) and to the alleviation of poverty (Hardship fund).
The French Protestant Church in London is a member of the Communion of French-speaking Protestant Churches (CEEEFE*), affiliated to the Protestant Federation of France. Linking around thirty churches throughout the world, the Communion is dedicated to the exchange of information and people, mutual financial aid, joint action, theological animation and reciprocal challenge.
Publication: Annual newsletter, available from: Fédération Protestante de France, 47 rue de Clichy, 75311 Paris Cedex 09, or from the church bookstall.
*formerly known as Communauté d’Églises Évangéliques d’expression française à l’extérieur