Bethanie, our base in France, has been the hub of Bless since 2009. Our Goal for this former cider farm is to grow as a Centre for Transformational Mission for the cultures of Europe. We draw people in from across the world, and deploy them for the benefit of the nations of Europe.
Bethanie is an engine room for transformation that is Personal, Relational, Cultural, Social and ultimately Global. Our experience has proved the truth that our faith has always taught us: that real cultural change comes from transformed hearts and minds. In europe’s past a Christendom mindset has sought to impose a Christian worldview – and its attendant morality – regardless of whether its core beliefs are shared. We believe this is no longer an appropriate response. Our postmodern context demands that we work from a starting-point of personal transformation. Our vision cultural renewal, but the tools we use to get there are personal. The founding mission statement of The Bless Network captures this dual emphasis, asserting that we exist To transform the lives of people in Europe by empowering Christians, through prayer, creativity and strategic partnerships, to live for the service of others. As the hub of this process Bethanie serves as a resource to transformational churches across Europe. We seek to promote change through our three core activities of:
- Learning Opportunities, primarily residential and based at Bethanie itself, but also including internships with extended placements in local churches.
- Our own church-plants that model transformational church and offer interns and other trainees the opportunity to engage first-hand in missional activities.
- Resources that capture the threads of our work and make them more widely available.
Why a Centre? For several years Bless was a virtual network – mobilising people and calling them together but without a physical home. The purchase of Bethanie has enabled us to embody this movement in a specific location, and to crate a stable hub from which wider adventures can be resourced.
Why France? Placing this centre in France is a decision made for both visionary and strategic reasons. As a movement with its origins in the UK, we knew that an agency with a vision for mainland Europe needed to be housed on mainland Europe. We also know that France is one of the most complex and difficult contexts for the expression of the Christian faith in the contemporary west. Essentially, a french location is a built-in stress-test for missional thinking – if an idea can work here, it can work anywhere! We have long believed that God has specific and dynamic plans for the nation of France, and for Normandy as a region, and are excited to be part of his purposes for such a needy area.
Isaiah 13:2 says, in the NIV,
“Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles.”
The picture is of a vantage-point outside the city from which those going into the city can be encouraged and resourced. This is Bethanie, a place set apart “on a bare hilltop” with a vocation to equip, energise, motivate and resource those Good is calling to impact – and ultimately transform – the cities of Europe.
Bethanie (directions here) is a former cider and cheese farm some 40km from the city of Caen. consisting of two houses, a multi-purpose meeting room and a number of ancillary buildings, Bethanie offers comfortable farmhouse accommodation for up to 18 guests. The LACEY centre, our multi-purpose meeting space, is suitable for gatherings of up to 50 people and offers a coffee area, a multi-media equipped meeting space, a permanent prayer room and a dining room for 40 covers. Our bedrooms are mostly shared, offering three triple rooms, all en-suite, three doubles and two singles. Set in four acres of fields and gardens, Bethanie sits in the “Vallée de La Vie” (the Valley of Life), a peaceful rural location. The town of Livarot, population 2,200, is 4km away, and is the home of one of France’s most highly prized cheeses. The Cathedral city of Lisieux is 20km away and Caen, ancient home of William the Conquerer, is 50km.
As well as being the hub for our Love Europe, Boot Camp and Mission School activities, Bethanie regularly hosts local church gatherings and conference events. Individual and group visits are also possible when programme schedules allow. The site is particularly suitable for house-group and leadership team retreats: contact us for available dates. We look forward to welcoming you to a place where we have truly tasted the blessings of God…