This is the French word for a gathering of pastors - perhaps it's also an appropriate image describing their rôle in the church.
My husband is joining the 40-odd pastors of our Union of churches this afternoon for 3 days of meetings & discussions. I'll go there tomorrow having made arrangements for our children. The central topic this time is the follow-up from the third Lausanne Congress at Cape Town and looking at how our churches conjugate social action issues with evangelism.
On a local level, we are hearing of poor families moving into our area where the rents are cheaper, but who are arriving with nothing. The local charities have food banks set up and now are collecting some clothes and household items for these people. Our church is not directly connected with charity work, but we encourage our members to join these volunteer efforts as a way of living out their Christian witness. In secular France, the Christian origins of many of the charities has been lost or hidden and people no longer feel that they can openly say they are helping their neighbour in the Christian sense of the term, or showing the love of Christ through their actions. Which is not an excuse for not getting involved anyway - we should be out there.
I noted from the reports of the SIM Global Leaders meeting in Peru that these issues were also addressed. When you look at all the projects being supported by SIM you see how important it is to be involved in meeting needs at all levels.