These young Protestants who want to engage in new networks of influence

Instead of the gentrified decor of the Interallié lounges, a stone’s throw from the Élysée, this year the futuristic setting of Station F (Paris 13th), the French-style “Silicon Valley” that has become the biggest incubator for start-ups, was preferred. up to the world. A highly symbolic place to mark the ambition of french protestants to be turned towards the future, while the Cercle Charles Gide (1) has chosen to organize there, this Monday, November 28, the second edition of its great annual dinner, centered on the theme of ” youth (…) committed to the common good”.

Among the 450 guests of the philanthropic event are thus expected 200 Christian guests aged 20 to 45 (Luthero-Reformed and Evangelicals from all over France), working in very diverse fields: ecology, education, health, world of company… “We wanted to highlight this generation which strikes us with its sense of commitment to serving society, whereas the one before them was able to turn more towards personal careers”, explains businessman Xavier Moreno, co-founder of the Astorg investment fund and president of the Cercle Charles Gide.

“New Networks”

In a country where Protestantism represents nearly 3% of the population, “one of the main objectives of this dinner is to contribute to the awareness of Protestants of what they represent in society”, he continues. “We clearly feel a desire to federate new networks of influence among those who embodySuccession”, deciphers a Parisian pastor invited. This is a very commendable initiative, insofar as there are also few spaces for exchanges and meetings for this generation, outside of their Churches or Church Unions…”

“Networks of influence” ? Some are nuanced, for fear of being assimilated to the conservative evangelical lobbies of the United States or Brazil. We really mean it as an invitation to be a positive, loving influence in all spheres of society,” considers the Baptist pastor Erwan Cloarec, president since June of the National Council of Evangelicals of France (CNEF), which brings together more than 70% of the Evangelical Churches constituted in unions of Churches in France.

“We can still see this desire to create new networks in the cast of the evening which is very large, and in the fact that representatives of the public authorities are again invited », says a young participant. This year, Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne have been invited – but have not confirmed their presence. Last year, the Head of State came accompanied by the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin. The evening was an opportunity to engage in a lively exchange between Protestant diversity and the president on various subjects: secularism, reception of migrants, separatism bill…

“Values ​​to reflect”

A specialist in Protestantism, the sociologist Jean-Paul Willaime observes a change in “configuration” in the way Protestants manifest their presence: “Reputed for its discretion, Protestantism manifested itself, until the 1970s, by a strategyofburialin the society. In its great diversity and under the influence of evangelicals, it evolves towards the free affirmation of its identity in general debates and societal issues marking our time.. This requires the testimony of men and women who do not necessarily want to convert others to their views, but carry a voice marked by their Protestant convictional anchorage”.

Beyond their differences in sensitivities, what message do these young people want to convey? “The one that individual responsibilities must take on meaning and strength in collective action”, responds a guest, Olivier Paccalin, 35, member of the United Protestant Church of France (EPUdF) and co-founding president of LesitedumadeinFrance, a search engine for products made in France. “It is not necessarily a question of speaking frontally about Jesus, abounds Isabelle Vandeventer, 23, nurse at the Samu social and member of the Martin-Luther-King Evangelical Church in Créteil (Val-de-Marne), but to manifest our faith, sometimes subtly, on a daily basis in the values ​​that we want to reflect. »

These young Protestants who want to engage in new networks of influence