In 2014 most people thought that Eymet Temple was closed. Even the Mayor of Eymet wondered what had happened to the Protestant faith as he had not seen the doors open for the last few years. In fact, they were down to just three services a year. Can you imagine any organisation or even a shop being open for custom for just three days a week let alone a year! This was the situation that we found when we arrived in Eymet in early 2014.

Eymet Temple had two advantages: it was a big space and on a main route into the town. The disadvantage was that there was no heating, no water, no kitchen, no toilet, and a decaying internal structure which included the benches, pulpit, and ancient harmonium. It was fit for 19th century worship but not the 21st century world.

There were many tasks to consider when reviving a spiritual venue. The first and most important was to get the engine started, and prayer meetings commenced at the Temple in July 2014 - nothing can move without prayer. Every Thursday between 2 and 3 a few gathered to pray for the town and for direction.  With the assistance and support of the then Chaplain Paul Vrolijk and Pastor Elizabeth Brinkman there was agreement to commence services in September; we started to move forward for God!

Since then, the work has been ongoing to make sure that the Temple remains open for weekly services. The benches have been replaced with chairs. The harmonium converted into a sound desk. Comforts such as toilet, kitchenette, and heating have been added. The place has been brightened up. Numbers have increased, dipped, and increased again as people come and go through their life choices and the natural rhythm of Church. Key principles have been maintained around being Fresh Expressions, accessible, with contemporary worship, and a prayer-led fellowship. With freedom to have expressive worship embracing both Anglican and Evangelical expectations in a slightly Methodist or Baptist sort of way; a reflection of the multiple backgrounds of the congregation and visitors. 

The consistency of all year-round weekly services has helped ensure that we were able to be involved in the community in a variety of ways. Whether it was the Tour de France, talks on Huguenot History, concerts, and last year the Fillibre celebration of Ocitaine culture. And for four years now an annual Christmas Fayre. 

The Temple is now entering a new phase. Of course, the ceiling still needs painting and repaired but as Allan and Julia prepare to hand the baton on in January, the foundations are laid to reimagine what church may look like going forward. It may include the physical or virtual presence of the congregational worship leader via the internet. Either way, as we have found, it takes individual perseverance and dedication of people such as Ros and Tim Argile who helped with music and tech plus Marie-Claude Lelliot who translated and done artwork for the Temple, or Tessa, Anne and Dan who have helped so much in the background with many tasks. Further tasks will still need to be done and the new team will now take the baton. Who knows what the next nine years will look like.

With thanks to our many helpers past and present in the work of the Lord. Find further Eymet news here.
Allan and Julia Petchey (Congregational Worship Leaders Eymet temple)