New minister for Scots Kirk in Paris

Jan Steyn
Jan Steyn

A Fife minister is following in the footsteps of a legendary Second World War hero and taking up a new role in France.

Rev Jan Steyn has been inducted into the Scots Kirk in Paris, which was once led by Rev Dr Donald Caskie.

Dr Caskie helped an estimated 2,000 allied servicemen escape the Germans after setting up a series of safe routes out of occupied France with the help of a network of contacts.

It was the profits from his memoir, the Tartan Pimpernel, that twice helped rebuild the Scots Kirk near the Champs-Elysees in the 8th Arrondissement.

Privilege

Mr Steyn, 56, said his appointment felt like a spiritual homecoming because he is descended from Huguenots, members of the French Protestant Church who fled persecution in the 17th and 18th centuries.

He said it had been a "privilege" to serve as the minister at Cupar St John's and Dairsie United Church for more than five years.

South Africa-born Mr Steyn, who has been with the Church of Scotland since 2009, officially took up his new role in Paris on March 31.

He was inducted in the presence of French and international dignitaries and members of the International Presbytery of the Church of Scotland.

Friends from Fife and South Africa also attended the service.

Mr Steyn said: "As a congregation and disciples of Christ, we will continue to be God's light in the City of Lights.

"With Huguenot ancestry, this calling to serve in Paris is almost like completing a spiritual circle.

"Living and working in a city will be very different from the rural setting of Cupar and Dairsie.

"Not only will I have to improve my French, I will also learn what following Christ means in a cosmopolitan city like Paris."

Mr Steyn said it was very encouraging to see that the congregation has the support of other churches and denominations in Paris.

The minister, who was ordained in South Africa in 1985, said the Scots Kirk regards itself as a "spiritual home" for Parisians and visitors alike.

Prior to serving in Cupar, Mr Steyn worked at Kinross Parish Church and Fordyce Parish Church in Portsoy, Aberdeenshire.

Compassion

Rhoda D Grant, Moderator of the International Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, said it was a "privilege" to induct him into the Scots Kirk in Paris.

"It was an extremely happy event with a full church," she added.

"The members of The Scots Kirk are enthusiastic to be in a new ministry and I share in their enthusiasm.

"I met Jan for only a short while before the service and was instantly drawn to his warm smile and kindly attitude.

"He will be a caring, compassionate and faithful pastor to his congregation and, along with his wife Linda, will bring to the church in Paris a fruitful ministry.

"Standing in the vestry before the service, looking at a picture of the Rev Dr Donald Caskie, I felt a link to the past as he looked out of the photo with such hope.

"The congregation now looks to the future with that same hope.

"I wish God's blessing on them all."

The International Presbytery of the Church of Scotland has 16 churches in 14 countries across three continents.

The Church has ministry and mission links across the globe in countries like Kenya, Pakistan, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica