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In Paris, brainwave makes radio waves for French-speaking Anglicans

Posted on: July 16, 2013 12:32 PM
Laurence Moachon records in the studio
Related Categories: Americas, France, francophone, Paris

[Episcopal News Service by Matthew Davies] Parisian Episcopalian Laurence Moachon is helping to raise the profile of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe by making French-language audio content available to Anglicans around the world.

Le Magazine Anglican started broadcasting on the Frequence Protestante radio station some 18 months ago. Due to its popularity, it often is broadcast during a primetime slot just after noon.

Moachon, a former Roman Catholic, has been a member of the American Cathedral in Paris for the past 19 years. As animateur (facilitator) of the show, she says it is important to communicate with people via radio because “we need to have more visibility in France as Episcopalians and Anglicans, and we have very little media coverage in the press. It’s a good opportunity for people to get to know us.”

During her 55-minute slot, broadcast once a month and available on demand online, Moachon usually has a main topic, a secondary topic and an update of news about the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church, the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe and the three Anglican churches in Paris (The American Cathedral, St. Michael’s and St. George’s).

She occasionally welcomes guests to the studio to record, but most of the time she pre-records interviews, “as most of them are not confident enough to speak live in French.”

Moachon produces almost every aspect of the program, from preparing to presenting, researching to recording. “I have some small equipment to record the interviews, then afterwards I have software so I can mix the voices with music,” she said.

Although she is a communications consultant, Moachon said, she has no previous experience in broadcasting. She has coached others in public speaking, but when she started broadcasting, she told ENS, “I thought my voice was so ugly that I needed voice coaching myself.”

Her audience includes many Anglicans, Protestants and Roman Catholics. Her show shares the broadcast time slot with Radio Notre Dame.

“These people are either religious or interested in religion or growing in their faith,” she said. “Therefore, there is no intention of converting any one to Anglicanism, but [of helping] them to know us better and also to find inspiration in what we do.”

While it is difficult to determine exactly how many people are listening, Moachon said, “the success criteria is that the radio lets me carry on, although no money is given to them.” In June, she said, Le Magazine Anglican was the second-most-downloaded show across the station.

She said she believes that the three or four pieces of music, much of it Anglican and choral, played during each broadcast help to make the show so popular.

“It’s not hard to understand why she has such a following,” convocation Bishop Pierre Whalon told ENS. “Laurence’s passion for her church and her faith combine with her skills as a professional communicator to provide a lively and attractive program. She is an outstanding example of the growing numbers of people in France who are finding a living faith in the Episcopal Church.”

French is an official language of 63 countries, the United Nations and the Olympic Games, Whalon noted. The number of French speakers in the world is growing and now includes more than 4 million Anglicans, he said.

Moachon pointed out that the largest Episcopal diocese numerically is Haiti, which is French-speaking.

The Episcopal Church is a worldwide church, she said. “We need to have more French tools, especially for liturgy … It’s important that we create an Anglican culture in French.”

Le Magazine Anglican finds it origins in an earlier radio show about the American Cathedral in Paris that was produced by the Rev. Canon Bernard Vignot, an Old Catholic priest who directed the cathedral’s Francophone ministry, until he retired. In 2011, Le Magazine Anglican relaunched as a cultural show.

When the show first began, it was called Via Media, but Moachon said she struggled with that term “because it means we are ‘neither nor.’ But we really are different. I really want people to see our church and think we are doing something different.”

Her favorite part of the show is brainstorming ideas and meeting lots of interesting people, she said.

The latest show, broadcast on July 13, included a main feature about Anglicans on the French Riviera and an Episcopal church in Nice. She also included information about Cannes and the film festival, one example of how, she said, she is finding new ways to broaden the show “and make it lively.” Music featured on the latest show includes the Communion hymn sung for the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the choir of the American Cathedral in Paris singing Abide With Me, and Emeli Sandé singing Abide With Me for the opening of the Olympic games in 2012.

Previous show highlights have included ecumenical debates and features on the enthronement of the 105th archbishop of Canterbury; British cathedrals; Washington, D.C. and the second investiture of President Barack Obama; the new dean of the American Cathedral in Paris; and a festival of Anglican music.

Moachon first was drawn to the Episcopal Church in 1993 when she attended a Christmas service at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. She immediately felt a connection, but one of the main attractions of the Episcopal Church, she said, is the diversity of worship.

The radio program takes a lot of time to prepare and produce each month but, she said, now I “see it as my ministry.”

– Matthew Davies is an editor and reporter of the Episcopal News Service.