An examination of the sermons of pastor Jean Medard in the French city and district of Rouen 1939 to 1945

  • Douglas McGurk

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is an examination of the extant sermons of Pastor Jean Medard, of the Eglise Reformee de France, in the northern French city of Rauen from 1939 to 1945. The manuscript sermons are a unique, contemporaneous response to the horrors of war and occupation in the city and its environs and were an impulse towards singular obedience leading to life threatening actions. They answer the fundamental question of what to say to a deeply troubled congregation during this time.

The thesis details the sermons in their historical context and identifies the principle topics within the pastor's crisis rhetoric. This is developed, not only to identify how the congregation was regularly guided to deal with and survive the hardship, but also to determine whether, in being true to a belief in God, the pastor and his colleagues created a French version of the German Confessing Church in the Occupied Zone of France. The thesis also provides evidence Qf the repeated motivation behind Resistance and rescue in the Occupied Zone that enabled refugees to pass through Rauen and its environs and so find refuge from persecution in other parts of France. Taken together, the topics addressed in the thesis help further define the concept of spiritual resistance.

This material is significant in two ways. For the Protestant Church in France it substantiates what has been glimpsed in the Occupied Zone previously: that during WWII pastors of the Eglise Reformee de France regularly guided their congregations as a response to God, an obligation to others, and resistance against totalitarianism. For the Protestant, and particularly the Presbyterian, Church in Ireland it exposes a little known history of a scripturally based, active resistance to aggression and oppression that was openly proclaimed and manifested in love of others.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorEric Morier-Genoud (Supervisor)

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