The United Protestant Church in protestant history (continued)
French Protestants have always been a small minority. After a long period of persecution, they gradually took their place in French society from the Revolution onwards, thanks to the progress of the secular state, an idea which they actively promoted. About a million and a half French people (some 2.3% of the population of metropolitan France) claim to be Protestant.
Present-day Protestantism is growing more varied In France, two thirds of Protestant churches and movements are members of the Protestant Federation of France, founded in 1905; the United Protestant Church was a founder member, and is the largest member church.
Evangelical protestantism (including baptists, pentecostals, etc.) is gaining ground, especially under the influence of Protestants from overseas departments and the southern hemisphere. As the creation of the United Protestant Church is 2012 shows, Lutheran and Reformed Protestantism is also undergoing renewal.
Union in diversity
The formal process of creating the United Protestant Church of France took five years. Practical unity had already been achieved with the joint training of pastoral ministers from 1969, enabling them to serve in parishes of either church.
The United Protestant Church seeks to express the theological, organisational and liturgical diversity between the two traditions. Indeed, it considers such diversity an asset, a basis from which to offer society at large a shared witness. The regional organisation of the churches has been preserved, and operational disruption has been avoided. It is worth noting, at a time when the religious landscape is marked by splits and separations, that all the local churches (parishes) agreed to be part of the union.
The United Protestant Church of France is open to future developments, and eager to welcome other churches with roots in the Reformation. By bringing together Lutheran and Reformed Protestants in a single church, the United Protestant Church of France bears witness to the possibility of a life of union in diversity and pluralism.