Living the Path to Christian Unity

 — Sept. 30, 200230 sept. 2002

by Ray and Fenella Temmerman
Published in Ecumenism, September 2002

Ray, along with Fenella are an interchurch couple who have been active in the Canadian Association of Interchurch Families since it was established in 1996. The success of the International Conference for Interchurch Families held in Edmonton, August 1-6, 2001, is largely due to Ray’s efforts. In recognition of their contribution to ecumenism on the local, national and international levels, Ray and Fenella were awarded the 2001 Ecumenical Leadership Award.

"Interchurch families may present and model the hope for the eventual visible unity of the Church."

So says the Catholic / Reformed Dialogue in the United States.

While we believe that to be the case, we interchurch couples insist we didn’t consciously choose this path. We simply met someone from another Christian tradition, fell in love and, despite the differences, decided to continue that love for each other, exclusively, for the rest of our lives. Everything else flowed from that ongoing decision and commitment.

Interchurch families live in their marriages the joys and difficulties of the path to Christian unity. Daily, the reality and experience of the Church scandalously divided can impact us painfully. Yet pain is neither the only experience, nor the end of the story. A mother giving birth to her child sees her pain in a broader, richer context. Likewise, our pain is set in the search for Christian unity and its discovery, in ways and places that the churches themselves are now coming to recognize and celebrate.

More and more, interchurch families are discovering they are not alone. Increasingly, their new-found courage enables them to come forward, proclaiming the richness of their being, speaking their truth of unity, and becoming gifts to their churches for the healing of disunity.

Interchurch families have long sought pastoral care simply to survive the pain of imposed divisions. We have struggled to find words to express the journey, to each other or in response to conflicting expectations and demands of churches, family, and friends. That care is still needed, yet today the call is less for care and more for pastoral understanding. We who hold two traditions within the unity of our marriage, and our children who hold two traditions within one body, are discovering our experience of unity to be real and valuable. We long for the gift of our experience to bear fruit in the lives of our churches, our families and friends; to discover together the fullness of the truth that we have one baptism, one faith, one Lord who is God and Father of us all.

As you will discover in these pages, the international conference in Edmonton, one of an ongoing series of events, was a time of great exploration. We discovered anew that each interchurch reality is unique, concrete, and personal, to be lived and celebrated in its historical, geographical, and ecclesial context. We realized there is and can be no norm whereby interchurch families should live.

The norm is Christian unity, something even our churches are as yet unable to live fully, and which will be truly realized only in the eschaton. We do not know how our churches can come together. In fact, if we look at the state of the Church divided, we are tempted to say it is not possible. The most we can do today is build pastoral constructs which welcome and liberate rather than divide and oppress. The rest we must leave to the Holy Spirit, who has the capacity to bring us where we thought it impossible to go.

Visit the interchurch families website:

Posted: Sept. 30, 2002 • Permanent link:
Categories: News
Transmis : 30 sept. 2002 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : News

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