Nick Finlay is the new chaplain in Grenoble and I recently sat down with him to chat about his life leading up to his time in Grenoble and how he has found the experience so far.

Nick was a Christian back when he was in school and even earned himself the nickname ‘The Vicar’ but didn’t actually end up going to theological college to enter into ministry until he was in his fifties. He turned his back on God for a period and ended up in an unsuccessful relationship which broke down after twenty-three years. 

On a trip to America, he met his now-wife who was living in New York at the time. She agreed to come and live with him in Scotland provided that he took her to church. This caused Nick to give his life back to Jesus at an Alpha Course.

Nick felt called to work full time for God and with a marketing background assumed that it would be in a marketing role within a Christian organisation but really felt called to go to Bible college. He started to look into different Bible colleges, but he didn’t feel like any of them fitted him but he eventually discovered Regent College in Vancouver.

Regent College was set up to teach theology to laypeople but also offered diplomas and pastoral training. Originally Nick went to Regent College for a year to do a certificate but ended up staying there for three years to also do a masters and a post-graduate diploma.

Nick then came back to the UK and took up a role to pastor the over 40s in a church in Cambridge and then went to theological college in England and was ordained in Liverpool aged 55.

Nick then applied for a job in Kent, purely as interview experience but ended up getting unanimously selected and remained there for a good few years before moving to Wales to be closer to his family. While in Kent he had been a police chaplain and was instrumental in founding the police chaplaincy in the diocese of Swansea and Brecon. Nick then retired and moved to Shropshire where he remained for six years. 

In January 2019 Nick and Julia had been married for 25 years and decided to take an anniversary trip to Cuba. They were planning on staying there for two weeks but at the end of the first week they got on a bus to take them to a different part of the island and the bus was in a collision. The bus turned over and seven people died and many more were seriously injured but they emerged with only bruises.

Upon their return to the UK, they were invited to live in a Church of England retirement scheme which was nice until lockdown hit. Nick then decided to sign up as a locum and was getting ready to head out to Taormina in Sicily when a job opened up in Grenoble and he thought it looked like the sort of thing he could do. He contacted Richard Bromley about it and found out that it had already been appointed but when it became available again he applied and was invited for an interview. 

During the interview process, Nick was actually in Taormina but due to the nature of the Zoom interview, he was able to be interviewed from Italy. After he was appointed, they flew directly to Grenoble from Catania airport on boxing day and haven’t been back home since.

The church in Grenoble have been in interregnum for two years and so having a permanent vicar is strange to them and with the church being unable to open due to Covid it is all very different to what everyone is used to. There are a lot of practical challenges that will take a lot of work to overcome but Nick has received a very warm welcome from the congregation.


Some ways that you can pray for the church in Grenoble

  • find good ways to get to know the congregation
  • find good ways to reach out to the community
  • the technical requirements are the biggest struggle
  • no books so doing a lot of work online