Laurent Lenne - A thoroughly modern priest

We’re talking about Laurent Lenne, French and an ordained Anglican priest (actually, for the US Episcopalian diocese in Europe) working in Seyne-sur-Mer. At first sight Fr Laurent seems to be just one more of those splendid eccentrics so familiar in the ranks of Anglican parsons. Think of the nineteenth-century Devonshire vicar who livened up the BCP liturgy by occasionally sacrificing a goat at his altar or back in the Sixties the West London parish priest who regularly preached in favour of shoplifting (“Don’t worry ... Jesus would have done the same”) and was eventually found to have sheltered the Russian spy George Blake when he was on the run after hopping over the wall at Wormwood Scrubs.

Laurent Lenne© Laurent LenneAnd Fr Laurent? He combines his pastoral work at Seyne-sur-Mer in the Var with a burgeoning career as a pop singer. Our own Fr Ken, we imagine, would frown darkly if he took a peek at his brother parson’s website. There he is, skin-headed and smiling broadly, dancing and warbling on a beach surrounded by a bevy of skimpily dressed girls (one seems to be entirely naked). He seems tailor-made for tabloid treatment – indeed he got quite a lot of media attention when he appeared on TF1’s Secret Story. But when you talk to him you realise that he is very serious about his faith and has a clear idea of what he is trying to do. “Religion is a turn- off for a lot of people, especially the young – everything from church architecture to the language. I’m trying to reach them in a style they’ll respond to.” And that beach clip? “There’s a very serious message there. It’s that if you can’t resist temptation then use a condom.” Wise words, many would say, but Fr Laurent is obviously not one of those Anglicans Pope Benedict has invited to join him in the panting heart of Rome.

Fr Laurent would welcome any of our readers to his services – conducted in French – at the Church of Saint Victor (1 rue Taylor) in Seyne-sur-Mer (Wednesday at 10h30, Sunday at 18h00). See