Considering How To Be Centered On That of God

Shared Respect; Mutual Respect

The ARK, a Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

Volume 24; Edition 4

October, November and December 2013

Page 23 ……….. Considering How To Be Centered On That of God                                                          by The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Choctaw

Considering How To Be Centered On That of God

“Extremism is a centrifugal force. It constantly seeks to draw what is in the center out toward the edges. It pulls societies, communities, apart.  It divides through the pressure of fear. It seduces through suspicion.

Love is a gravitational force. It holds the center together.

Even in the fast spin of change and diversity, it keeps community possible.

It unifies opposites. It works through shared respect.

The physics of faith is at work around us each day.

We can be pulled to the edges or we can hold the center.”

~ The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston,Choctaw

The ARK, a Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

Volume 24; Edition 4

October, November and December 2013

Page 23 ……….. Considering How To Be Centered On That of God                                                          by The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Choctaw


The ARK, A Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families ~ November & December 2012; Volume 23; Edition 9

 November and December 2012               Volume 23; Edition 9

The ARK, A Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

International Standard Serial Number:   ISSN 1943-6467 (print)

                                                                      ISSN 2160-682X  (online)

Interchurch Families  

“Listen with the ear of your heart”

In God’s Hands: The Ecumenical Prayer Cycle

At the very heart of the ecumenical movement is the reality of prayer. 

Prayer is a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.

Prayer is a conversation with God in which we are required to listen calmly for that still small voice of our God and Creator while we live amidst the storms, the wind and the fires.

It is through our Creator that we will be able to see possibility, find hope and be able to find what unites us as we seek solutions, that is, if we are able to “Listen with the ear of our heart.”

Jesus prayed that we may all be one, united in God in the mystery of the Trinity, and this is the basis and the goal of our search for unity.

What does God require of us?                                                                                 

  “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”

Theme for the 2013 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

(Micah 6: 6-8)   “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old?   Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?   Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? ‘ He has told you, “O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you  but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”



My dear husband Dave Natella passed away on November 2, All Souls Day. A wonderful ecumenical service was held at my church, Vienna Baptist Church, with Fr. Metzger of Our Lady of Good Council Catholic Church and Pastor Ben Wagoner of VBC.

I had been caring for Dave in our home for 4 weeks before he passed away. He was wonderfully peaceful and enjoyed his many visitors immensely. In the last week of his life he lost the ability to speak, but he still flashed that beautiful smile at everyone who visited.

My life has been such a whirlwind these last few weeks that I only now realized that there were people who cared about him who still had not heard of his passing. I am very sorry that I had not let you know before now.

I am doing well, considering. I know that he was well-loved by many, he loved everyone back, he was at peace with everything that was happening, and he left behind no unresolved issues with anyone in his life–how can I not feel graced by all that?

I thank you all for your friendship and your love.

–Carol Natella

Dave Natella had wisdom so that he was able to see the bigger picture for how things might be and the desire to leave the world a better place, compassion for humanity, sincerity, personal integrity, the ability to listen and an open heart for the possibilities that every situation holds. In this way Dave was able to see the potential that lies out side of the box while respecting those age old patterns that may guide us.

Dave Natella studied ecumenism and found ways to further ecumenical efforts on a very personal level in his community. He was filled with gratitude and he was able to find what was good in our world so that he could work diligently to reinforce that which is good.

Philippians 4: 8-9

8   Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

9   What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.


Dave Natella was a friend of Christian Unity, the Ecumenical Effort and Interchurch Families.

He dedicated his life to promoting all that is good about these endeavors. Dave was a true friend of what is honorable, whatever is lovely, all things that have excellency in them, all that is worthy of praise. He thought about these things and these noble pursuits became who he was.

Dave was curious about the world he lived in, and a scholar. Dave was attentive to the world he lived in. Dave was a good friend.

Dave had a balanced perspective about the world and a great sense of humor along with an appropriate sense of humility. God was in charge and Dave understood how to serve God. If ever there was someone who understood how to seek and then respond appropriately to God’s will, it was Dave. Dave has served as a role model for the rest of us. May  he rest in peace wrapped in the loving care of God’s embrace for surely if anyone is worthy of God’s embrace, it is Dave Natella. Dave had willingly accepted and embraced being God’s servant in the world; he has left us all with his legacy of gratitude and compassion for that which is noble and worthy of praise.

May sweet memories help to carry those who are left to mourn his loss through these painful days of mourning. A.A.I.F. wishes to acknowledge and to thank Dave and his family for all that he has done to promote Christian Unity and to support Interchurch Families.

~ M.J. Glauber on behalf of A.A.I. F.

Prayers and blessings are extended to all of our interchurch family members and  ecumenical community as we enter the new year that their lives might be filled with good health, hope and possibility. May we be able to find and to follow role models in our lived experience of all that is  good about being interchurch families so that we can experience gratitude, compassion and love for humanity for this is God working through us.


Memorial Supplement

Page 2  ………….Contact Information for AAIF

Pages 3 & 4 ……Interchurch Families Meet In Minnesota; August 2012 Ecumenical Corner                                   by Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS

Pages 4 & 5  …..The Dutchess County Interfaith Council; Ecumenical Corner September 2012     “Enthusiasm, hope and courage mark our humble beginnings. Noble deeds            must chart our future history, if we are to long endure.”    by Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS

Page 5    Quote from the presentation made by Father Ernest Falardeau in 1997 at                     Swanwick, UK

Page 5    Difficulties; Along With A Growth in Appreciation;  A Discussion about what it  means: To be ‘an Interchurch Family’:

Pages 6 & 7   A Report from Great Britain: AIF-UK today

Pages 8 & 9   “Mixed Emotions, Real Stories of Mixed Marriages” published by Northern  Ireland Mixed Marriage Association

Page 9   “Heartland, a parable,” by Charles Fivaz of Australia published in 2010                                (A book of fiction, based on a “true” story of Christians who are living a profound contradiction that amounts to a scandal.)

Page 10     A Few Photos taken of the SJU Campus during the 2012 AAIF Conference can be found at

Page 11    Characteristics of  “Strong, Healthy Families” and of Being An Interchurch                                 Family; A Discussion using input from the University of West Virginia Cooperative Extension

Pages 12 – 14   National Workshop on Christian Unity, Equipping Church Leaders in the                                 Quest for Christian Unity: Save the Date – April 8 to 11, 2013 – 2013 NWCU  Workshop to be held  in Columbus, Ohio  at the Sheraton Columbus at Capital Square

Pages 16 – 18   The week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013:  What does God require of  us?  (cf. Micah 6:6-8)

Pages 18 & 19  Introduction to the Theme for The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013

Pages 20 – 22   International affairs, justice and peace are key to the ecumenical future                                 Report from the World Council of Churches and the World  Communion of  Reformed Churches, Geneva, Switzerland

Pages 22 – 25 Ecumenical Advocacy Days April 5-8, 2013: to Invite People to Christ,                                to Abolish Poverty and End Suffering,  to Pursue Peace on Earth,  to Develop Disciples to Serve,  and to Experience Congregations in  Mission

Page 25  Holy Apostle’s Church in Virginia Beach: a Beacon of Hope for Christian Unity (update)

Page 2 6 Many Thanks:

Contact Information for AAIF:

Are you interested in meeting and talking to other interchurch families in your city between AAIF Biennial Conferences? Please contact:

For membership information and other pertinent updates please contact:

If you  are interested in being  on the AAIF Board and  you are a member of AAIF, please notify Lamar and Diane Burton at

Please contact if you would like to have information about how to become more actively involved with AAIF.

Pages 3 & 4:

Ecumenical Corner

               August 2012

Interchurch Families   Meet In Minnesota

The American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF) held its biennial conference under the auspices of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in Collegeville, Minnesota from July 13 through July 15, 2012.

AAIF is the American counterpart to the Association for Interchurch Families (AIF) of the United Kingdom and Foyers Mixtes of France. The International Congresses held near Rome July 24-28, 2003, at the Mondo Migliore Center, also included many participants from Austria and Germany.

[Australia, Italy and Switzerland also sent representatives along with those  representatives who came from many other countries.]

Interchurch families “consist of two baptized Christians who are members of two different, and, as yet separated Christian traditions, who have come together to form one Christian family.”

This year’s American conference consisted of three plenary presentations, the first on Friday evening, given by Dr. Darrell Jodock, Distinguished Professor of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College on “Living with Limits and a 

Sense of Humor: A Lutheran View of Intra-Christian Relations.” This presentation was a comprehensive view of ecumenism from a Lutheran perspective, taking note of the  Joint Declaration on Justification which was signed by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation in Germany on October 31, 1999. 

Dr. Jodock gave the audience a candid assessment of progress made since the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (1962 -1965), which is being studied and remembered during its 50th anniversary while planning for further progress for the celebration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017.

The second presentation was given on Saturday morning by Dr. Donald Ottenhoff, Executive Director of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at St. John’s University. His topic was “Ecumenism in a World of Change.”  Dr, Ottenhoff engaged participation in a discussion of the kinds of change they had experienced in their lifetime.  In the past, the world was [perceived to be stable]; today’s world is a place of change and instability.

People are more mobile and relocate to distant places. There is less accountability. All of tese changes have affected the ecumenical scene as well. Cardinal Walter Kasper, in a talk in San Francisco, said we face two dangers: that ecumenism remain a mere academic exercise; the other, that ecumenical activism focuses on spectacular events rather than on the slow, patient movement from below – sharing gifts, the ecumenism of life, ecumenical collaboration with a focus on our commitment to openness of the spirit.

The third presentation was given on Saturday evening on “How Interchurch Prayer ‘Happens’: Models for Negotiating Our Differences” by Daniel J. Olsen, who received a Ph.D. in Constructive Theology from Loyola University, Chicago in 2008, with a research focus on interchurch families.

Using the model of Jesus the Liberator from Jon Sobrino and Virgilio Elizondo’s Galilean Journey, he indicated how this model might be helpful to interchurch families for enriching their prayer experience.

He stressed that the future of the movement for Christian Unity is with grassroots ecumenism; revisiting the the concept of the border, of new language, Jesus “as soul of our soul” and the revealing of Christ, could reveal the nature of prayer as relational, personal and communal.

It is Christ forming “not a third church” but a family. It is recognizing that Christ lived “from the margins” and that interchurch families share this life in many ways.

The meeting in Collegeville did not make headlines, but it did draw the attention of Father Riccardo Burigana, who wrote an article in L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, entitled “Ecumenism in the Family”  in the July 13 edition, commenting on the up-coming meeting and its significance for the church and Christian Unity.

Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS

(Reprinted With Permission)

Pages 4 & 5

Ecumenical Corner

September 2012

The Dutchess County Interfaith Council The Interfaith Council of Dutchess County, New York celebrated its fortieth anniversary of faith and good deeds on August 23, 2012.

The Gala Dinner celebrating the forty year legacy at Villa Borghese in Wappingers Falls, NY brought together many of the past presidents and board members as well as active members of the Council. Honorees were: Rabbi Erwin Zimet, who served on the first Board of Directors, and his wife Lilli, the Reverend Hugh Miller, the Executive Director of the Dutchess County Council of Churches, and his wife Martha, who was the first Executive directory of the Duthcess County Interfaith Council, and Fr. Ernest Falardeau, SSS, first president of the DCIC. The guest speaker for the occasion was Imam Dr. Salahuddin M. Muhammad who is Senior Imam at Masjid Al Ikhlas (The Islamic Learning Center of Orange County), located in Newburgh, NY. Early Beginnings Rabbi Zimet, Rev. Hugh Miller and I served on the Planning Commission that explored the possibility of replacing the Dutchess County Council of Churches with the DCIC from 1970 through May 2, 1972 when the Interfaith Council was founded. It was one of the few interfaith councils in the United States.

Taking the best features of the Council of Churches before its motion to adjourn “sine die” and from the five models of interfaith councils at various locations (town, city and county) the DCIC set out to bring people of faith and social awareness to work together with civic and private entities in solving some of the major problems since the 1970’s. Affordable housing for the aging was one of the earliest projects as well as participation in Crop Walk (a fund-raiser contributing to the World Church Service) for the hungry and homeless. Other programs included shared ministry at the County Correctional Center, Media (radio/TV), and ministry to singles. A Music Festival at the Vassar College Chapel provided a sharing of religious music in the Jewish, Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Protestant traditions. This music festival also helped finance the work of the Interfaith Council. Interfaith Dialogue Pope Paul VI in his first encyclical Ecclesiam Suam wrote extensively on the purposes of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. His remarks on dialogue are extensive and suggest the idea of three concentric circles, all contributing to better understanding and the realization religious collaboration.

These three circles are first the outer circle of interfaith dialogue, including people of good will who work for the common good; the second circle is the Christian dialogue with other churches, and finally the inner circle of dialogue within the Catholic Church. Paul VI emphasizes that what we have in common, namely faith in God and respect for other human beings, can be the foundation for a common effort for peace and justice. Ecclesiam Suam describes the thrust of the Second Vatican Council and the pontificate of Paul VI. It also continues the vision of Pope John XXIII for a renewal of the Church in the modern world. In my first report as president of the DCIC I was quoted as saying “Enthusiasm, hope and courage mark our humble beginnings. Noble deeds must chart our future history, if we are to long endure.” As a community of faith, hope and love, the Dutchess County Interfaith Council has produced many significant “noble deeds” during its forty years of ministry. Most importantly it has brought people of faith together as friends and collaborators in a common cause for a better community and for people in need.

Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS. (Reprinted with permission)


August 1997 ‘Interchurch families are called to holiness, and holiness is measured by love. There is a special love required by interchurch families, and it is a love for the church, the church one but divided.

It presses you to be courageous in your efforts to prod the churches toward ever growing unity. Your impatience with the status quo and your prayer and longing for continuing progress toward the unity of all Christians should characterize your spirituality.’

Ernest Falardeau,SSS

The complete report can be found at the following link:

Page 5

Some Difficulties to be straightened out; Along With A Growth in Appreciation for the Other; A Discussion about what it means:

To be ‘an Interchurch Family’ “Being an Interchurch Family”: “…to respect the differences, and to learn about each other’s faith” “…if we really care to see the good things instead of the weaknesses, you will learn lots of things”

At the following link you will find excerpts highlighting the lived experiences of interchurch families:

Listed at that link you will be able to read in chart format, with any “cons” on the left side and the “pros” on the right side in a list about what the experience will be like or has been like in the past for interchurch families. It should also be noted that from any and every potential “con” there has arisen an opportunity for growth and love across a traditional barrier.

You will see what interchurch families have found to be problematic issues and the positive growth and enrichment that being in an interchurch family has already provided.

They are positioned side by side so that the balancing out of the entire experience is made clear.

All in all, this has been one of the greatest and most positive growth experience.

Various barriers and/or hurdles must be overcome, but mostly this is due to a lack of specific long range ecumenical training within both churches of the family so that the church communities aren’t aware of how to be supportive nor that they should be supportive of an interchurch marriage.

~ M.J. Glauber


AAIF is a formally recognized partner and member of the IFIN                    (Interchurch Families International Network)


Pages 6 & 7

Interchurch Families International Network News: Great Britain

The GB Association of Interchurch Families has three strands to its Mission Statement: it aims to provide a Voice in the Churches, a Support Network for couples and families, and an Information Service for all those interested. AIF-UK was encouraged by a past President of the Association, who said that he saw the Association as a real gift to the church: Whilst for much of the time while we played our roles quietly in the life of our various churches, every now and again we rose to the limelight for a “Day in the Sun” when people stopped and took notice. He was referring to the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to deliver the 2010 John Coventry Memorial Address, one of a series of lectures founded by the Association in memory of our founder, and by implication to the first strand of our Mission Statement that of being a Voice in the Churches. Six months later, the invitation for 25 AIF members to attend the Service of Evensong jointly celebrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope in Westminister Abbey – apparently the largest invitation to any one Christian group in the country – was a ringing endorsement of the fact that this Voice, which has been a constant and carefully moderated influence over the years, really is widely recognised and respected among the churches and ecumenical bodies. This gave us an opportunity to give thanks for the efforts of so many members over 40 plus years whose quiet work has brought about this degree of influence, and allows us to meet this particular strand of our Mission.

Our Executive Secretary Keith Lander has participated in several meetings of national ecumenical bodies for many years, including those of Senior Church Representatives, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Churches Together in England. Other members continue to be involved in local and regional ecumenical activities, as officers on Churches Together groups, on liaison groups and many others – often with the AIF publicity boards on display wearing their AIF sweatshirts. Our work to provide a Support Network has focussed, in recent years, on our two top priority gatherings, the Annual Conference in Swanwick, Derbyshire, and the Spring London Meeting.

At last year’s London Meeting we had an embarrassment of riches when we were addressed by two key speakers – Professor Antoine Arajkovsky from the Ukraine, who is Eastern Orthodox in an interchurch marriage with a French Catholic; and Commissioner Betty Matear from the Salvation Army who , as the then Free Churches’s Moderator, was one of our Presidents. (Our other two Presidents are the RC Archbishop of Westminister Vincent Nichols and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.) The RC Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is in the process of revising its Directory on Mixed Marriages.

The last edition came out in 1990, and was followed by the Ecumenical Directory of 1992 from the Vatican, which contained a substantial section, and the teaching document on the Eucharist from our bishops in GB One Bread, One Body (1998), which also dealt with them. We are very pleased that our bishops have asked AIF to comment on the Directory on Mixed Marriages. Our Advisory Council met recently to begin to consider the document, and it is clear that it could do with a complete rewrite, both of some of its content now superseded by later documents, and certainly in its rather negative and un-affirming tone, with quotes from even earlier statements which are significantly out of date.

We appreciate the fact that what we call interchurch marriage, where both partners are practising members of their own church but share in each other’s church as well, is only a subsection of all ‘mixed’ marriages which our priests and bishops have to think about, but any marriage between Christians has the potential to develop into the rich and positive relationship which many of us have found it to be, and needs careful and sensitive pastoral support, rather than any suggestion that one partner should convert, or that it shouldn’t be happening in the first place. We hope the bishops will ask us to do the rewriting, but in any case we will be keeping an eye on the process!

One particular plus of this past year was a Considering Confirmation Weekend held for seven of our younger members who are trying to determine what (if anything – and that’s not a negative perspective) they want to do about committing themselves to Christ through the sacrament of Confirmation. This was a really good example of an activity being proposed, sponsored and implemented from within the membership, being both hosted and facilitated by members. The 2011 annual AIF conference was held at Swanwick as usual at the end of August. It concluded the joyful celebration of several significant wedding anniversaries of long-term members. This year’s conference in August was – surprise, surprise – on the quasi Olympic theme of ‘Passing on the Baton’, where we shall consider what ‘baton’ we are passing on, and who we might be passing it on to, our children, our churches, people in general? We continue to receive inquiries at the office in London and on our website, but fewer than in previous years. There has been little activity amongst local groups of members this year, though the re-formed Midlands Group has met a couple of times, including once with the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley; and the Herts ‘n Beds for group support but also for giving an opportunity for our voice to be heard. Fulfilling our mission to provide an Information Service, the design and purchase of some printed roll-up banners to replace or complement the AIF travelling boards has been a significant step, and they are now available for use by members when they attend local events, and are much more easily transportable.

They were bought with some of the proceeds of the money donated in memory of our co-founder Martin Reardon. A number of volunteers maintain a substantial presence each year at the four-day annual National Christian Resources Exhibition, attended by over 11,000 people. AIF GB now faces several important decisions to be made concerning its administration and operation, as members who have carried out significant jobs over many years are retiring or moving overseas, and others are finding their lives more and more busy with work, family and local church pressures. We ask for your prayers for the right outcomes so that we can continue our work which it is clear is still needed.

Report submitted to the ARK 2012 by AIF GB


Interchurch Families International Network News:  Pages 7 – 9

The Northern Ireland Mixed Marriage Association has published: “Mixed Emotions, Real Stories of Mixed Marriages”

“All love stories are unique and these ten accounts of mixed marriage are no exception. Each story is shared with openness and courage and, stretching back nearly seventy years, the collective experience on offer reveals much about the attitudes of the day, showing how society has changed and yet, ironically, how it remains the same.”… …“their love ripples outwards across our communities and we all benefit from these triumphs.”

“One of the joys found within these stories is the diversity of response to common difficulties arising out of misunderstanding, turmoil and hurt. Some were subjected to outright rejection and exclusion, others to more subtle forms of coercion. Each had to make choices against backdrops ranging from violent intimidation to unacceptable familial expectations. Yet, each story sparkles with positivity. Each person tells his or her own story in their own way, highlighting what is important to them. These are the people who have forged a life together, sometimes with apparent ease, occasionally by serendipity and often through great courage.” “They explain how they have adapted and overcome and they express the enrichment that they have experienced through mixed marriage.”

“Collectively, these experiences show how relationships can be made to blossom, even when it is made most difficult. People have found many different ways to embrace the positive nature of their mixed relationship and, with simplicity and honesty, they have reached out beyond the narrow negativity of others to build their own love stories.”

“Together, they profess how they have benefitted from mixed marriage through stories that are testimony to how much they deserve the rewards. We should be thankful that they have also shown us how, in the face of adversity, we can aspire and achieve far beyond our common divisions.” ~ Hugh Nelson, NIMMA February 2012

A Short History of MIxed Marriage in Ireland by Ken Dunn, Chairman of NIMMA, which I found to be most interesting, is included at the end of this book, “Mixed Emotions, Real Stories of Mixed Marriages.” All of the personal stories of what it means to be in a Mixed Marriage in Northern Ireland or in an interchurch marriage, anywhere, are enlightening. These personal stories, which are journeys of discovery, are also very interesting to read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in an interchurch marriage, who may enter into an interchurch marriage, their extended families and to anyone who may give interchurch families pastoral care.

Perhaps this book would serve all of society well if it could be used as a form of ‘remote preparation’ so that when confronted by the presence of interchurch marriages in the community that this can be recognized for the positive contributions and for the role that mixed marriages serve for the positive advancements our society seeks. Coming out of NIMMA, there has been a major breakthrough that came about in 2012 “when the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the body that controls the majority of the social housing stock in the Province, agreed to change its application forms to reflect the wishes of those people who wish to shake off the traditional Catholic/Protestant labels and be known as ‘Mixed.’

All forms will now have a ‘Mixed’ tick box. This change of policy came directly as a result of years of hard work and lobbying by NIMMA member Anne Odling-Smee and this sets a ground breaking precedent in Northern Ireland where, formally, all official forms, such as the Census form were regarded as changeable only by parliamentary action. This augurs particularly well for the future on a number of fronts.”

“NIMMA continues to provide information and support to individuals and couples, to give talks to a range of community and educational groups, as well as universities, colleges and schools, to produce a bi-monthly newsletter, which is distributed widely throughout the island of Ireland to press, clergy, educationalists, politicians, opinion formers, and the general public.” “NIMMA collates and presents reports to church bodies, networks with cross-community groups, represents Northern Ireland at international conferences, lobbies for extended integrated education and increased shared social housing and sees itself as an agent for real social change in Northern Ireland.”

“It also makes recommendations that can and will make life easier for those in mixed marriages and sets guidelines for the way forward to a truly shared future.” “NIMMA has achieved much since the dark days of the 1970’s, but there are many challenges ahead and it is determined to continue to address sectarianism in a post-conflict society.”

~ Ken Dunn, Chairman NIMMA

Ken Dunn hopes that we will enjoy the NIMMA Book: “Mixed Emotions, Real Stories of Mixed Marriages”

The book charts the single/married lives of individuals living in Northern Ireland, a first for mixed marriages anywhere on the Island of Ireland while it documents the difficulties and highlights the courage and commitment of the people in question.

These ‘volunteers’ from across Northern Ireland are the first mixed marriage people to speak openly about the subject, certainly since the outbreak of “The Troubles” in 1969.

The book, launched at the home of the Northern Ireland Parliament and with the blessing of the Province’s First and Deputy Ministers, has been extremely well received both in Northern Ireland, Ireland, but also around the world. The book paints vivid pictures of changing clerical attitudes toward mixed marriage over a period of nearly 70 years, while featuring a comprehensive history of the subject on the island of Ireland.”

Please contact: N.I.M.M.A. 28 Bedford St. Belfast BT27FE email: or go to to obtain your own copy of this book.

This book is highly recommended for all. ~ M.J. Glauber


Page 9

Charles Fivaz from Langwarrin, Victoria, Australia wrote

“Heartland, a parable,”  which was first published in 2010.           

  ISBN 978-1-921681-63-9

Page 9

Charles Fivaz indicates that “ ‘Heartland‘ is a story about a people, Christians, who are living a profound contradiction that amounts to a scandal.

It is a tale that charts where this people have come from, and where they can go from here if they are wise and listen to their dreams.”

Although this is a fictional story, Fivaz says that “the narrative is much broader because it takes on universal themes to which everyone can relate.

Fivaz tells this dream to everyone who is on the journey from a coming-from and a going-to; to anyone who is trying to chart a course across the field of broken dreams.”

Fivaz notes that “wherever there is community there will be conflict and brokenness, prejudice and exclusion, and a struggle to find belonging and unity again.”

Fivaz explains that “‘Heartland’ is a story for an open mind and the generous heart, for the young and the old.. the story is about growing and changing”… As a father and daughter go through “life’s wringer they beget wisdom and leave their legacy. The community where they live also must change; they become “unstuck and grow up.” The future is examined. Change happens that better aligns humanity with “their spiritual relationship to the land, the creatures the earth sustains and to the Spirit of its Creator.”

“What you dream alone remains a dream, what you dream with others can become a reality.” 

~ Edward Schillebeeckx

Healing the hurts from the past .. A short story created by the author of this book, entitled “Hannah’s Dreamtime” won 3rd prize in the 2008 Avant Press National Short Story Competition (Australia)

Page 11

Characteristics of Strong and Healthy Families

The Cooperative Extension Service of West Virginia University provides the following list of terms that describe strong, healthy families in general: Strong, Healthy Families:

            • Are fun
            • Believe in themselves
            • Are involved
            • Are able to forgive
            • Share beliefs and values
            • Show appreciation
            • Spend time together
            • Communicate effectively
            • Show commitment
            • Are able to deal with crises in a positive manner
            • Establish reasonable rules and expectations
            • Build self-esteem
            • Set achievable goals
            • Evaluate family strengths and needs
            • Have healthy lifestyles
            • Celebrate special times
            • Keep promises
            • Talk it over
            • Make time for one another
            • Respect each individual
            • Have a strong belief system and a high degree of religious orientation
            • Provide a stable environment
            • Provide security

The Cooperative Extension Service of West Virginia University observes that “Today’s families face a multitude of challenges and transitions that place great demands on their resources. Strong family systems provide support for meeting these challenges. It is vital to the well-being of individuals to build and sustain strong families.”

What this implies for Interchurch Marriages:

Interchurch Families have these healthy characteristics including “shared beliefs and values” added to their “strong belief system and a high degree of religious orientation.

This characteristic of an interchurch family would be perhaps the strongest similarity and connection between all interchurch families because this is the part of our very identity that allows us to become interchurch families. We may find various practical solutions for how to be devout, such as the times that we will worship and where, but we all share this aspect of our identity “a strong religious Identity.”

Our families provide stability and security. We celebrate special times, sometimes twice as much as a single church family may. The fact that we have bridged a gap between two historical divisions in society is significant.

~ M.J. Glauber Resources:

WVA Extension References:

“Blended Families” and “Extended Families,” Family FUNdamentals, University of Idaho Extension, 1994.

“Characteristics of Strong Families,” Utah State University Extension.

“The Future as if Families Really Matter,” Enriching Kansas Families Newsletter, Kansas State University Extension, 1995.

“12 Step Program for Healthy Families,” Enriching Family Relationships, University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension, March 1995. James Van Horn,

“Remarriage,” Pennsylvania State University Extension.

Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons

Pages 12 – 15

National Workshop on Christian Unity: Equipping Church Leaders in the Quest for Christian Unity

National Workshop on Christian Unity
Equipping Church Leaders in the Quest for Christian Unity

– Sponsored by the National Ecumenical Officers Association –

Save the Date – April 8 to 11, 2013

2013 NWCU

Workshop in Columbus, Ohio 

at the Sheraton Columbus at Capital Square

Important News – The National Planning Committee, by unanimous vote, recommended to the NEOA that the NWCU be continued as an annual event.  The NEOA has acted to approve that recommendation.  Planning is underway for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 events.

News release: April 20, 2012

The National Workshop on Christian Unity (NWCU) is an annual ecumenical event

for all involved in, or concerned with the ministry of Christian Unity. It brings together laity, pastors, ecumenical officers, theologians and church leaders to exchange ideas and programs, and to pray and plan together for the sake of Christian Unity.

The Workshop is intended to balance national planning with local responsibility, general ecumenical discussions with particular inter-church conversation and regional leadership efforts with local realities.

NWCU is not an ecumenical agency with a staff and set program to which various denominations contribute. Rather it is an event created by people whose commitment to Christian Unity calls them together.

The NWCU happens because of the contribution of its participants. Responsibility for the event is shared by the National Ecumenical Officers Association (NEOA).

Some Highlights from the NWCU 2012:

2012 Seminar 5:

By the Numbers: A Quantitative Look at the American Religious Landscape 

The Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner (PC-USA)

Changing patterns of church membership gains and losses, seminary enrollments and the emergence of new church groups have altered the long dominant face of American Christianity. 

Growing religious pluralism and increasing secularism have likewise contributed to a substantial reconfiguration of the American religious landscape. 

This workshop charted these changes and identified emerging trends in faith communities and their implications for Christian unity and ministry.

It gave special attention to the ways in which church institutional life is adapting within the American context. 

The workshop leader is editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

      • Growing Religious Pluralism
      • Growing Congregationalism
      • Redefinition of Denominations
      • Increasing Secularization
      • Ministry Specialization thru Para church Organizations

Attraction Factors

      • Growing Religious Pluralism
      • Growing Congregationalism
      • Redefinition of Denominations
      • Increasing Secularization

Ministry Specialization thru Para church Organizations

Mega Trends #1

      • Growing Religious Pluralism
      • Growing Congregationalism
      • Redefinition of Denominations
      • Increasing Secularization

Ministry Specialization thru Parachurch Organizations

 Mega Trends #2

Interreligious Supplants Ecumenical

Spiritual vs. Religious

      • Protestant Surrender of Cultural Hegemony?
      • Conflictual Articulations of Faith in the Public Square
      • Mega Trends: Congregational:
      • Mega-churches – Multi-service Campus

Cafeteria Approach to Resources and Ministries

      • Gravitate to “Theological Affinity Groups” (Greens, etc.)
      • Intolerant of National Divisive Issues
      • Adaptive Parish Life – middle judicatories

World View: Manner of Thinking


Scientific Method; Empirical Truth

Post Modernity

Intellectual Relativity;  Personal Narrative

Theological Context        Mainline Yields to Post Christian

Evangelical Yields to Postmodern

The Great Emergence

The Road Ahead:      General Trends

Increasing Pluralism

        • Accelerated Secularization
        • Denominational Redefinition
        • Increasing Congregationalism
        • Stable Growth/Decline Patterns

Health and Welfare Ministries

        • More Issues “Specialized”
        • Weighted to Direct Service vs. Advocacy
        • Interfaith Primacy over Christian Ecumenism

2012 Seminar 7                                  Young Adulthood Interrupted: Is There a Place in Today’s Churches for Young Adults? – The Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner (PC-USA)

Using contemporary research, this workshop examined the patterns of affiliation and disaffiliation that characterize the generation born between 1980 and 1995.

Often called Generation Y or Millennials, this group has exhibited behaviors and interests in faith identification that hold important implications for the character of American religious demography. 

Churches, at both the congregational and denominational levels, are seeking to understand and respond to a new generation, now young adults,whose perspectives and longings are quite distinct from earlier generations.

This workshop also explored the themes and patterns which are emerging from the data which traces the religious identification of this age cohort.

The facilitator is editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches

The Connected Generation

Can the Church Log In?

A Portrait of “Generation Next”

    • Confident.
    • Connected.
    • Open to Change.

Generational Names:

The Millennial Generation – Those born after 1980

Generation X – Born from 1965 through 1980

Baby Boomer – Fertility boom between 1946 to 1964

The Silent Generation – Born 1928 through 1945

The Greatest Generation – Those born before 1928

Millennial’s Priorities:

52% Being a good parent

30% Having a Good Marriage

21% Helping Others in Need

20% Owning a Home

15% Living a very religious life

15% Having a high paying career

9% Having lots of free time

1% Being famous

Young Leader’s Heros:      

By Name:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (15.6%)

Abraham Lincoln (11.4%)

John F. Kennedy (9.9%)

By Historic Circumstance:

Military Leader (36%)

Founding Father (14%)

Social Change Leader (10%)

Religious Leader (1%)

Life Context:

      • Lowered Economic Expectation
      • Heightened Personal Expectation
      • First “Always Connected” Generation
      • Newspaper & TV passe – Niche News

Seeking Gemeinschafft in Gesellschaft

        • Virtual “Friends”
        • Common Interests over Kinship
        • Non-Geographical Affiliation
        • World Café Consensus Building
        • Homogeneity ≠ Unity
        • Fluid Identity: Culturally, Politically, Racially, Religiously

(“Gemeinschafft” means community, collective,solidarity, fellowship [in a religious context], companionship, communion [fellowship], confraternity“in Gesellschaft“ means “in company” so perhaps in English: “The communion of Fellowship with the company of others”)

Millennial “Spirit Quest” Characteristics

          • Global/Local Faith in Action
          • Non-Parochial Interfaith
          • Reasoned Spirituality to Mystical “Worthy Adventure”
          • Symbolic Ritual vs Non-Linear Thought
          • Devotional Meditation
          • Millennial Spirit Quest Expressions
          • Symbolic Witness
          • Electronic Presence
          • Traditional Moral Values / Unusual Application

Videos – Videos of the Plenary Sessions are being placed online and can be accessed by clicking on the video image to the right of the Seminar descriptions.  Please go to the NWCU website to find those videos.

2012 Seminar 1                               

The Art of Ecumenical and Religious Exchange
Fr. Leo Walsh (Catholic)

Being involved in ecumenism and/or interfaith activities is an art as well as a science. 

This seminar provided the basics needed to be an effective Ecumenical/Inter-religious officer or informed “lay person.” 

Topics include “A Five-Minute History of the Modern Ecumenical Movement”; “The WCC and Vatican II”; and “Current Theological and Practical Issues.” 

The workshop leader was the Pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Anchorage, and formerly the Interreligious Specialist at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

2012 Seminar 2

Reading Each Others’ Scriptures

The Rev. Darryn Hewson (United Methodist), Rabbi Abby Jacobson and Imam Imad Enchassi

What is distinct about how different faith traditions use and understand their scriptures?

What do they have in common? And what can we learn from one another? 

This seminar provided an enriching exploration of how Jews, Christians, Muslims and others view their sacred texts and apply them to their life in community and in the world.

2012 Seminar 3

Ecumenical Advocacy

Shirley Cox (Catholic) and Richard Klinge (Catholic)

There are times when it is important for the church to speak out on important issues before the legislature.

This seminar provided an overview of how bills become laws and gives practical advice about the best possible times and ways to advocate ecumenically.

Shirley Cox is the Legal Services Developer for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Richard Klinge is Associate Director of Catholic Charities – Oklahoma City.

2012 Seminar 4

The Hope of Eternal Life: Common Statement—U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue

Dr. Michael Root (Catholic)

The Lutheran-Catholic dialogue completed Round XI with agreements that contribute to the ongoing ecumenical journey.

The common statement “The Hope of Eternal Life” offers fresh insights into some issues that proved contentious in the debates of the sixteenth century.

Among issues explored in this dialogue were continuity in the communion of saints, prayer for and about the dead, the meaning of death, purgation, an interim state between death and the final general judgment, and the promise of the resurrection.

The presenter is Professor of Systematic Theology, Catholic University of America.

2012 Seminar 6

Native American Spirituality

Bishop Steven Charleston (Episcopal)

Many followers of Native American spirituality do not regard their spiritual beliefs and practices as a “religion” in the same way that traditional western Christianity talks about “religion.”

Rather, Native American spirituality and practices form an integral and seamless part of the very being of a person. 

This seminar explored various aspects of native spirituality and considered the rich cultural diversity among first peoples across North America, with a special focus on Native Americans for whom Oklahoma is a homeland.

Bishop Charleston is Interim Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Oklahoma City, and a citizen of the Choctaw Nation.

2012 Seminar 8

Ecumenical Engagement: Providing Healing and Hope Throughout the Disaster Cycle

The Rev. Mary Gaudreau (United Methodist)

Faith communities hold a unique and valuable role through all phases of disaster: preparedness, response, relief, recovery and mitigation.

This workshop introduced participants to some of the well-established national and state level networks through which faith communities engage in vital disaster-related communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration.

Participants also learned avenues through which they can become better prepared to serve others impacted by disasters and to prepare for disasters they themselves may experience. The presenter is a consultant with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Domestic Emergency Service Office

2012 Seminar 9

Christian Response to Peace and Non-Violence

Dr. Michael Trice (Lutheran), Jordan Blevins (Brethren), and Ronaldo Cruz, a Pax Christi representative (Catholic)

This seminar explored concrete efforts among our churches and other partners to promote nonviolence, peace and reconciliation in a broken world. 

Learn about contributions Christians can make together to raise awareness, inform public dialogue, and take meaningful steps to attend to suffering and to overcome violence. 

Also addressed were recent actions by church bodies to seek forgiveness for historic wrongs committed against one another.

Panelists included representatives from major peace networks,including Pax Christi (Roman Catholic), National Council of Churches, and Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry (ecumenical in the Jesuit tradition)


Page 16

The week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013:   What does God require of us? 

At least once a year, many Christians become aware of the great diversity of ways of adoring God. Hearts are touched, and people realize that their neighbours’ ways are not so strange. 

The event that touches off this special experience is something called the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Traditionally celebrated between 18-25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere), the Week of Prayer enters into congregations and parishes all over the world. Pulpits are exchanged, and special ecumenical worship services are arranged.

Ecumenical partners in a particular region are asked to prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international group with WCC-sponsored (Protestant and Orthodox) and Roman Catholic participants edits this text and ensures that it is linked with the search for the unity of the church.

The text is jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and WCC, through the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order, which also accompanies the entire production process of the text. The final material is sent to member churches and Roman Catholic dioceses, and they are invited to translate the text and contextualize it for their own use.

Theme for 2013

What does God require of us?

(cf. Micah 6:6-8)

The search for unity: throughout the year 

The traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 18-25 January. Those dates were proposed in 1908 by Paul Wattson to cover the days between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul, and therefore have a symbolic significance. In the southern hemisphere where January is a vacation time churches often find other days to celebrate the week of prayer, for example around Pentecost (suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926), which is also a symbolic date for the unity of the church.

Mindful of the need for flexibility, we invite you to use this material throughout the whole year to express the degree of communion which the churches have already reached, and to pray together for that full unity which is Christ‘s will.

Adapting the text 

This material is offered with the understanding that, whenever possible, it will be adapted for use in local situations. Account should be taken of local liturgical and devotional practice, and of the whole social and cultural context.

Such adaptation should ideally take place ecumenically. In some places ecumenical structures are already set up for adapting the material; in other places, we hope that the need to adapt it will be a stimulus to creating such structures.

Using the Week of Prayer material

■      For churches and Christian communities which observe the week of prayer together through a single common service, an order for an ecumenical worship service is provided.

■      Churches and Christian communities may also incorporate material from the week of prayer into their own services. Prayers from the ecumenical worship service, the ‘eight days‘, and the selection of additional prayers can be used as appropriate in their own setting.

■     Communities which observe the week of prayer in their worship for each day during the week may draw material for these services from the ‘eight days‘.

■      Those wishing to do bible studies on the week of prayer theme can use as a basis the biblical texts and reflections given in the eight days. Each day the discussions can lead to a closing period of intercessory prayer.

■      Those who wish to pray privately may find the material helpful for focusing their prayer intentions. They can be mindful that they are in communion with others praying all around the world for the greater visible unity of Christ‘s church.


(Micah 6: 6-8) …. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? “


Lord, you call on us to pray for our enemies.
Have mercy on those who are disposed to do us evil
and who divide your church.

Deliver us, Lord, from every temptation.

Have mercy on our lack of belief and our wavering faith
as we travel the path towards the unity of your people.

You are our God and we want always to be your people
under the guidance of your Holy Spirit.

(Prayer by the group from Zaire who prepared for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 1993)

O God,
the source of our belonging to one another,none of us can give anything to our sisters and brothers if we have not first of all belonged to you;
give us your Spirit in the bond of perfect unity so that the Spirit may transform us into a new humanity,free and united in your love, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who is God,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end.

(New Roman Missal, Democratic Republic of Congo)                                     

Pray for:

• An awakening of the churches’ leadership in the political arena, that their eyes and ears be opened to the plights and cries of the people and that their hearts be wise to discern what makes for peace with justice.

• Interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

• That all believers assume their gift of priesthood and thus carry one another’s burden for the sake of the mission of the church.

• Good governance and leadership with vision.

• Those living along coastal lines, that they may be protected from the devastation of annual typhoons and hurricanes, and those living in arid places that they may be saved from drought and famine.

• The leading of the Spirit for churches to renounce self-justification and rather work for the establishment of justice and human rights for all.

• Christians in the southern islands to be more eloquent with their deeds than with their words.

• A faithful witnessing to the way of the Lord in political and economic arenas.

• God’s justice to prevail in the political arenas and for good results from elections.

• God’s love to permeate and transform all the work of the churches in the islands.

• Churches to find ways to cooperate in love and trust in the common goal of pointing to the in-breaking reign of God in Christ.

• Every Christian to gain understanding of and commitment to God’s justice in society.


Lord Jesus,
the storm is life and life is the storm and there is no escaping it; but what matters is that you are in the storm with us, a beacon and a presence that is sure.                                        

From Madagascar, Used with permission.

Our heavenly Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we glorify you, we give thanks to you, for in your infinite mercy you extended your family to include the islands of the sea,even islands at the end of the earth: Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles.

We praise your name for you moved your Holy Spirit who stirred and sustained
a century-long revival movement in Madagascar, an awakening to your power that brought transformation, reconciliation, healing and empowerment.

We magnify your name for through this revival the different denominations have discovered a spirit-filled way to come to a unity in diversity.

Lord of the church,we pray that the churches be strengthened in their spirituality,
one that would powerfully engage them in a priestly and prophetic way in the midst of their local contexts.

Strengthen the churches to recover their sight and so to resist overt and covert manipulation  in the political arena, from either government officials or politicians.

God of all creation and nature, we pray for the inhabitants of these islands, that they may be spared the devastation of cyclones or typhoons with the open seas lashing every year against the coastal areas, causing suffering and loss for the population.

© 2005 Péri Rasolondraibe, Antananarivo, Madagascar.

Page 18



What does God  require of us? 

(cf. Micah 6:6-8) 

To mark its centenary, the Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) was invited to prepare the resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU) 2013 and they involved the All India Catholic University Federation and the National Council of Churches in India.

In the preparatory process while reflecting on the significance of the WPCU, it was decided that in a context of great injustice to Dalits in India and in the Church, the search for visible unity cannot be disassociated from the dismantling of casteism and the lifting up of contributions to unity by the poorest of the poor….

…. Micah was one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament who prophesied from approximately 737-690 BC in Judah. He came from Moresheth, southwest of Jerusalem, and prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah (Micah 1:1).

He lived in the same political, economic, moral, and religious conditions as his contemporary Isaiah and with him witnessed the destruction of Samaria, and the invasion of the Southern Kingdom by the King of Assyria in the year 701 BC.

His grief as he wept over the plight of his people informs the tone of his book, and he turns his anger upon the leaders (2:1-5) and priests who had betrayed his people.

The Book of Micah belongs to the literary tradition of Prophecy.

At the heart of its message is the oracle of judgment.

The book unfolds in three sections demonstrating a journey from judgment in general (ch.1-3), to the proclamation of salvation (ch. 4-5), to the word of judgment and the celebration of salvation (ch.6- 7).

In the first part, Micah harshly criticizes those in authority, both political and religious, for abusing their power and stealing from the poor: They ―tear the skin off my people(3:2), and ―give judgment for a bribe (3:11).

In the second part of the book Micah exhorts the people to walk in pilgrimage ―up to the mountain of the Lord… that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his path‖ (4:2).

God‘s judgment is revealed in the third part to be accompanied by a call to await in hope for salvation, with faith in God who ―pardons iniquities and passes over transgression (7:18). This hope focuses upon the Messiah, who will be ―peace…(5:4), and who will come forth from Bethlehem (5:1) bringing salvation ―to the ends of the earth‖ (5:4).

Micah ultimately calls upon all nations of the world to walk in this pilgrimage, to share in the justice and peace which is their salvation. Micah‘s strong call to justice and peace is concentrated in chapters 6:1 – 7:7, part of which forms the theme of this year‘s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU).

He sets justice and peace within the history of the relationship between God and humanity but insists that this history necessitates and demands a strong ethical reference.

Like other prophets who lived in the period of the Israel monarchy, Micah reminds the people that God has saved them from slavery in Egypt and called them through the covenant to live in a society built on dignity, equality and justice. Thus, true faith in God is inseparable from personal holiness and the search for social justice.

More than just worship, sacrifices and burnt offerings (6:7), God’s salvation from slavery and daily humiliation rather demands that we should ―do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God‖ (cf. 6:8).   

In many ways, the situation facing the people of God in the time of Micah can be compared to the situation of the Dalit community in India. Dalits also face oppression and injustice from those who wish to deny them their rights and dignity.

Micah compared the greed of those who exploited the poor to those who ―eat the flesh of my people, flay the skin off them, break their bones in pieces    (3:3).

Micah‘s rejection of rituals and sacrifices which were impoverished by a lack of concern for justice, speaks of God‘s expectation that justice ought to be at the core of our religion and rituals.

His message is prophetic in a context where discrimination against the Dalits is legitimized on the basis of religion and notions of ritual purity and pollution. Faith gains or loses its meaning in relation to justice.

In the contemporary Dalit situation Micah‘s insistence on the moral element of our faith requires us to ask ourselves what God truly requires of us; mere sacrifices, or to walk with God in justice and peace.

The path of Christian discipleship involves walking the path of justice, mercy and humility. 

The metaphor of “walking” has been chosen to link together the 8 days of prayer because, as an active, intentional and ongoing act, the metaphor of walking communicates the dynamism which characterizes Christian discipleship.

Further, the theme of the tenth assembly of the WCC to be held in Busan, Korea, in 2013 – “God of life lead us to Justice and Peace” resonates with the image of the

Trinitarian God who accompanies humanity and walks into human history while inviting all people to walk in partnership.

Page 19

Implications for Interchurch Families

“Dynamism” that  quality of being characterized by vigorous activity and progress, and/or that quality of being dynamic and positive in attitude.

The imagery of walking is used to convey the concept of an active, intentional and ongoing act; this is how we live our lives as interchurch families. Being interchurch requires us to examine our lives in relationship to another tradition. This is a daily aspect of  the lived experience of our lives because we are constantly reminded of the other denomination and we wish to treat that denomination and its members in the same way that we wish to be treated, a concept based on “The Golden Rule.”

There is a positive attitude in the way we seek to find commonalities between our denominations accompanied by an equally positive attitude for considering what elements have divided our traditions historically and in this time period.

It is a form of looking for that of God in our world, the world where we live in a very human way that surrounds us.

Most of the time, we find that of God in this kind of a relationship; there is always room for more growth in understanding. Because we are human, none of us comprehends everything at all times, but being on a journey to find that of God in our world and seeking to reinforce that of God.

What is required of any of us? “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”…. God is the one who is in control. All that we have to do is to be kind, to love kindness and to do justice… That is a major task so perhaps we, because we are simply human beings, need to keep viewing our lives as a journey. In this way, I find hope.

~ M.J. Glauber

Page 20

International affairs, justice and peace are key to the ecumenical future 1.11.12

It is not imaginable for the World Council of Churches (WCC) to have a future “without a much stronger emphasis on international affairs and peace with justice,” said Martin Robra, programme director for the study of ecumenism in the 21st century, at a consultation on “churches and the rule of law” this week in Geneva.

The consultation, sponsored by the John Knox International Reformed Centre and the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) was held 28-31 October at the John Knox Centre.   Robra observed that churches “have been wrestling in recent decades with a more substantive understanding of the rule of law. They were challenged to redefine their thoughts concerning the role of states, of national and international law, the use of force, human rights and impunity.”   He suggested that the time has come for the WCC to focus on discussion of these matters in order to “harvest the results of its Decade to Overcome Violence and renew the mandate of the Churches’ Commission on International Affairs.”

Other speakers at the conference included the WCRC general secretary Setri Nyomi, John Langlois of the World Evangelical Alliance, Elizabeth van der Heide of the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism in the Netherlands, Carlos Lopez of the International Commission of Jurists, and Harmen van der Wilt, professor of international criminal law at the University of Amsterdam.   A book-length report of the proceedings is in preparation. Has security become the new religion? church conference asks Participants at a church-sponsored conference in Geneva, Switzerland on the rule of law are calling for a rethinking of the escalation of state-supported security measures. The calls come in response to reports pointing to the high cost of “securitization” and the increasing invasion of individual privacy through surveillance via social media and travel controls. “Security measures are necessary for a well-functioning society,” says Elizabeth van der Heide of the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism in the Netherlands. However, the Dutch academic warns against the tendency of governments to “terrorize their flock” with exaggerated images of danger that are then used to justify high levels of electronic surveillance and suspension of laws guaranteeing the protection of human rights. “Society does not become more secure through installing security gates but through a feeling of trust, social cohesion and personal fulfillment” van der Heide says.

Van der Heide made her comments in delivering an address to the Churches and the Rule of Law conference at the John Knox International Center (28-30 October). The two-day event attracted forty participants from churches and non-governmental organizations in Africa, North America and Europe.
“Is security the new religion?” Dietrich Werner of the World Council of Churches asked during debate. “Are we idolizing security?” The German academic and theologian calls this a key contemporary concern for churches and says it is time to issue a declaration against the “religious connotation of security”.

Conference organizer, Douwe Visser of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), notes the conference theme was chosen in response to growing recognition of the role played by churches in the development of legal safeguards against the abuse of power and the infringement of human rights imposed in the name of security. “The objective was to inform churches about the role they can play in their local contexts in ensuring the rule of law,” says Visser. “It was also intended to present an opportunity for global organizations such as the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches to set their agendas in response to the question of rights and the rule of law in the coming years.” Martin Robra of the World Council of Churches (WCC) called on the ecumenical movement in general, and WCC in particular, to focus on the multiple and sometimes contradictory issues associated with the role churches can play in response to questions and concerns about how best to defend human rights at the same time as ensuring protection for the vulnerable in politically unstable countries. Robra acknowledges this is a controversial issue among churches, with some defending the need for security measures imposed by force and others opting for non-violent intervention.

However, he says he “cannot imagine a WCC of the future without a much stronger emphasis on international affairs and peace with justice.” Visser says that WCRC will initiate further work with ecumenical partners such as the WCC on the issues raised by the conference. The John Knox International Centre will be publishing a report on the conference early in 2013. Justice and Partnership In our world today, from our pews, communities and streets, we hear devastating stories about grave injustices, human rights violations and degradation of God’s creation. Gender based and societal violence, poverty, militarism and climate change instigated disasters are among injustices which are rampant, resulting in severe consequences for many people, especially for poor people in both rich and poor countries. People are displaced and treated as disposables; they are losing their jobs, homes, access to health care, education, water, electricity and other basic necessities. This is the reality of the world in which the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) was established and called to serve, where life is at stake.

“The WCRC is founded on a basis of communion and justice, through the grace of God who has bestowed upon us the deep privilege of becoming co-workers with God in this ministry. In accepting this gift the WCRC acknowledges the privileges and the responsibilities entrusted to us. We recommit ourselves, therefore, to the basic, yet profound principle that in communion we belong to God and to each other and are accountable together for the stewardship of all God’s creation. In this regard we accept responsibility for our part in the problems of the world.

We rejoice that we are led on this journey by the God of justice and we believe that we are called to work with God in creating a different world – a world of Peace, of Justice and of harmony with Creation: “Justice in the Economy, the Earth and all God’s Creation.

Programme direction:

- Developing and promoting life-giving civilization as an alternative to the neo-liberal economic paradigm, introducing new metrics that reflect God’s intention for the flourishing of creation, and humankind within creation, that will include engaging the powers in the world economic system.

– Developing a framework and criteria for a new international financial and economic architecture.

- Establishing a global ecumenical panel, linking to initiatives with other faith communities and critical experts worldwide as well as with the UN expert commission for a new world economic and financial architecture, headed by the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.”

- Establishing an international core group, including, feminist theologians, pastors, economists and climate change experts to develop a process to support churches’ engagement on economic and climate justice issues from critical gender perspectives.

- Living out the Accra Confession – through education on climate justice, ecological debt and ecological destruction.

- Building up the Oikotree movement and connecting the Reformed family with this initiative. Publications and resources

If you have any questions or comments concerning our work or would like further information, please contact us at Moderators: Mr. Helis Hernán Barraza Díaz, Presbyterian Church of Colombia Executive Secretary: Rev. Patricia Sheerattan- Bisnauth, Guyana Presbyterian Church
Administrative Assistant: Ms Daphne Martin-Gnanadason World Communion of Reformed Churches: Called to communion, Committed to justice What we do The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) coordinates joint church initiatives for unity, worship renewal, contemporary mission, and economic, ecological and gender justice. Why
WCRC’s member churches believe that Christian faith engages us in actions which respond to the spiritual needs and social rights of all people in society and that this includes ensuring responsible use of natural resources.

WCRC is committed to collaborating with other church movements on issues of
common concern such as climate change, gender equality and theological dialogue.

WCRC is supported principally by membership contributions of finances and human resources. It also seeks funding for specific projects.

Theology We promote church unity, worship renewal, and ecumenical formation.

WCRC represents 80 million Christians in 108 countries.

Its member churches are active worldwide in initiatives supporting economic, climate and gender justice, mission, and cooperation among Christians of different traditions. Media Contacts: Kristine Greenaway Office of Communications World Communion of Reformed Churches Email: tel: +41 (0)22 791 62 43; fax: +41 (0)22 791 65 05


Page 22

Ecumenical Advocacy Days 
April 5-8, 2013

Register Now!  –

A national gathering in Washington, DC for people of faith who want to be a force for change for the betterment of all!

“…But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous…” Luke 14: 12-24

Page 23

Ecumenical Advocacy Days April 5-8, 2013

EAD Welcomes Three New Ecumenical Partners to Its Mobilization for Advocacy Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice is pleased to announce three new sponsors to its advocacy mobilization for justice, peace and integrity of creation.  Strengthening EAD’s voice and joint Biblical witness, The Christian Reformed Church, The Community of Christ, and Christian Connections for International Health join a total of fifty-four U.S. denominations, religious congregations, relief agencies and faith-based advocacy organizations as EAD national sponsors.

“It is clear that EAD’s 10 years of experience, along with the current theme, At God’s Table: Food for a Healthy World, is motivating a growing interest in EAD’s advocacy efforts,” said Douglas Grace, EAD’s director. “In the wake of November elections and a challenging lame-duck Congress, now more than ever, the Christian voice of 1,000 faith advocates will be needed in the Spring of a new Congress.”    Grace added, “Some may profess that ecumenical partnerships have been on the decline, but I believe EAD’s continued expanse and commitment from Christian and related faith-based sponsors, and the number of people of faith who come to EAD each year, show that the ecumenical commitment to unity for ‘Global Peace with Justice’ is well alive and growing.”

“The Community of Christ is extremely excited and grateful to be joining such a diverse ecumenical sponsorship for EAD. We became sponsors because of the fabulous educational and advocacy work they do for justice and peace,” said Rev. Dr. Dale E. Luffman, Community of Christ Ecumenical and Interfaith Relationships Officer and Brad A. Martell, Peace and Justice Coordinator.

“Community of Christ’s mission initiatives to Invite People to Christ, to Abolish Poverty and End Suffering, to Pursue Peace on Earth, to Develop Disciples to Serve, and to Experience Congregations in Mission greatly align with EAD’s goal of strengthening Christian witness and justice and peace advocacy. We are honored to be sponsoring EAD and looking forward to April 2013!”

“The Christian Reformed Church is thrilled to join the diverse and committed ecumenical community of EAD,” said Peter Vander Meulen, Coordinator of the CRC Office of Social Justice. “EAD’s commitment to justice, civic engagement, and responsible Christian citizenship make EAD a perfect partner for the CRC.

We are honored to add our voice to EAD’s swelling ranks of Christians of all stripes in the on-going effort to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.”  “Christian Connections for International Health, a global network of 200 organizations and several hundred individuals, has discovered that Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a perfect opportunity for us to partner with others in our growing commitment to being a Christian voice in global health affairs,” said Ray Martin, Executive Director.

“Our mission is promoting global health and wholeness from a Christian perspective, but initially we focused on operations and program support. But we came to realize that our calling also included an effort to mobilize our members to be a Christian voice for voiceless in global health and development challenges, so it is with excitement and anticipation that we join with the wider faith community in EAD.”

God’s loving abundance is highlighted throughout the entire biblical story.

This is especially true with food. Whether it is God feeding the Israelites with manna in the desert (Exodus 16) or Jesus’ call to invite all to the Great Banquet (Luke 14:12-24) there is enough to eat at God’s Table.

As inheritors of this tradition, the Christian community is called to ask, “What has gone so wrong?” Some of us live in communities where grocery stores abound, where we can find aisles of colorfully packaged food, coolers stacked with gleaming meats, walls of vegetables, and piles of perfect fruit.

What are the true costs of this apparent plenty?

Meanwhile, only a few miles away, others of us may live in a food desert, where families are simply unable to purchase affordable, healthy food.

And across the globe, children are dying of starvation and being stunted by malnutrition.

Can Christians support a system of food production and consumption that turns crops into fuel, where more than a third of all food goes to waste, and nearly one billion people go hungry?

Even in the United States, an agricultural powerhouse, millions are food insecure or hungry, and the kind of food many of us eat is making us sick.

Tragically, our national and global food systems have lost focus on the human dimension. Food is now seen as one more commodity, just another product to own and speculate on. We have forgotten God’s mandate for human beings to serve as stewards of a just food system in which all can meet their daily needs (Exodus 16:16-18).

  • What are the costs to the environment, to farm and food chain workers, and to the producers themselves?
  • What are the long-term effects of corporate agribusiness, over-reliance on chemical inputs, genetically modified single crop farms, misplaced subsidies in the U.S. Farm Bill, and massive food exports into fragile farming communities?
  • How do we respond when human rights advocates are killed for trying to stop land-grabbing?

In the face of such challenges, we return to the invitation from Jesus to set a banquet table where all are invited (Luke 14:12-24).

This will mean a transformed food and agricultural system with justice and ecological sustainability – right relationship among “neighbors” and with all God’s creation – as the core ingredients, the menu, for the banquet.

EAD 2013 follows in the wake of national elections, a new Congress, a lingering Farm Bill debate, and devastating droughts and floods, all with lasting consequences for our society and world.

April 5-8, 2013 will be a critical time to raise faith voices in support of ending hunger, improving nutrition, creating more just and sustainable food systems and protecting God’s creation and advocating for a “Faithful Federal Budget.”

During Ecumenical Advocacy Days, participants will share information and learn about these important issues.

Most importantly, as part of EAD 2013, hundreds of Christians will go to Capitol Hill and advocate with members of Congress for policies that ensure sufficient and nutritious food for all, preserve ecological sustainability, protect children and adults from exploitative labor practices, and strengthen rather than destroy small-scale farmers and the rural economy.

1. We will break-down myths such as the one that says farmers cannot grow enough food with ecologically sustainable means.

2. And we will be challenged to become sustainable consumers of healthy, fair food.

Come to EAD 2013 and help build a world in which every person, in present and future generations, has a place “At God’s Table.”

Join the ranks of nearly ten-thousand Christian advocates who over the past eleven years have made a faithful public witness on Capitol Hill! EAD 2013 Biblical Texts: Exodus 16: 16-18 (NRSV)

“This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.'” The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.” Luke 14: 12-24 (NRSV)

“He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’

And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.'”

The Ecumenical Advocacy Days is an opportunity for Christians to work together, side by side as we serve God, our Creator, Jesus our human role model and to become part of the Holy Spirit that seeks to unite us through God’s truth and as we seek to create the world that God envisioned for us in Genesis when he found that what He had created was good.

Page 25

Holy Apostles Church; Virginia Beach

Interchurch Families from all over the world are watching the on-going news updates regarding the changes taking place at Holy Apostles Church in Virginia Beach, VA. We are aware that changes are being made to the existing worship format, but why these changes are being made at this time is unclear.  No reasons were given in public news reports.

Holy Apostles isn’t of course only – or even mainly – for interchurch couples – it’s part of a wider movement to explore how much RCs and Anglicans can do together, within the current legal framework. It wasn’t intended to be a church exclusively  for interchurch couples, per se, but interchurch families have felt welcomed and affirmed while being able to be actively involved there so it is with some sadness, as interchurch families, that we view these changes taking place.  

We are left to wonder about ecumenical efforts everywhere. Given the Global situation, it seems that we should be encouraging joint efforts rather than eliminating them. This may be one more example pushing us to work and pray for full visible unity.  (These are my own thoughts and they do not necessarily reflect those of AAIF.)     

                                    ~ M.J. Glauber

Page 26

Many Thanks…. I would like to express my gratitude to the many who make the ARK possible: T

o Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS, who, as a frequent contributor to the ARK, gives an in depth perspective of the ecumenical movement;

to every interchurch family everywhere with whom we share this journey;

to Great Britain: AIF-UK from which AAIF was originally patterned and their on-going work;

to those who shared their stories of what it like to be in an interchurch marriage; To N.I.M.M.A.

to those members of the Northern Ireland Mixed Marriage Association because they have helped to illuminate our journey for us;

for Charles Fivaz and all those interchurch families in Australia who also share this journey of discovery with us;

to all those who planned the 2012 AAIF Conference in Collegeville, MN ( a beautiful location and a wonderful conference);

to God, our Creator, for the beauty of Creation, especially for this beauty as we found it in Collegeville, MN;

to the planners of the National Workshop on Christian Unity;

to all the cooperative extensions everywhere in the United States that help us to find the educational materials that we need to make the quality of our lives better;

to the planners of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity;

to those who work at the World Council of Churches;

to the Kentucky Council of Churches that brings the work of the WCC to us in Kentucky;

to the planners of the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days so that we can work together as various Christian Communities to make the world a better place for all;

to our pastoral advisors: Father George Kilcourse, Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS and Elaine Hall.

To all those people who have volunteered for AAIF over the years so that the ARK could get to this point;

to the Natellas and the Greens, may they experience improved health and the loving care of friends and family,

and especially:

Many Thanks to my family and to my husband, Peter, whose encouragement have made this issue of the ARK possible. Thank you! ~ M.J. Glauber

THE ARK, The ARK© Copyright 2012 AAIF all rights reserved 




The A R K, A  Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

November and December  2012     Volume 23; Edition 9

International Standard Serial Number:   ISSN 1943-6467 (print)                                                                                                                                   ISSN 2160-682X  (online)



Fr. Ernest Falardeau, SSS

Fr. Ernest Falardeau, SSS.

The American Association of Interchurch Families, founded by Father George Kilcourse – A Brief History of the role of Father Kilcourse

Father George A. Kilcourse, Jr. Ecumenist and Author ““whatever is truly Christian never conflicts with the genuine interests of the faith; indeed, it can only result in more ample realization of the very mystery of Christ and the church.”

Fr. George Kilcourse

Fr. George Kilcourse is a scholar in the fields of Thomas Merton studies, ecumenism, and religion and literature. His latest book is Flannery O’Connor’s Religious Imagination (Paulist Press, 2001), and previous books are Ace of Freedoms: Thomas Merton’s Christ and Double Belonging: Interchurch Families and Christian Unity (1993) . He is the former editor of and frequent contributor to The Merton Annual and has written dozens of scholarly articles.

Fr. Kilcourse has been recognized as a Wyatt Fellow by the University for his excellence in teaching and is a graduate of Bellarmine College.


Father Kilcourse visited the PCPCU in Rome in 2005


Fr. George Kilcourse, Professor of Theology at Bellarmine College in Louisville and the founder of the American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF) in 1990, commented on Fr. Orsy’s presentation. ‘He has contributed new insight and perspective to the dilemma faced weekly by authentically interchurch families,’ said Fr. Kilcourse. ‘Fr. Orsy is a distinguished canonist and theologian who invites all of us in the Catholic Church–interchurch families, bishops, ecumenists, canon lawyers, and pastoral ministers–to recognize how we can responsibly progress toward the full communion to which the Second Vatican Council committed us. This insight opens new doors. We begin to see interchurch families as not merely a problem but also as a gift – as Fr. Orsy so aptly named them, “a grace offered for the healing of the churches.”‘

*       *      *       *       *

Ecumenism in interchurch marriage

Nov. 27, 2009

When Steve and Jo Ann Schweitzer, a Cincinnati couple in a Catholic-Presbyterian marriage, first presented a workshop 13 years ago on what canon law still refers to as “mixed marriages,” one couple attended. Today similar workshops draw 75 couples or more.

Deacon Fred Merritt of the Cincinnati archdiocese’s family life office told NCR he estimates that nearly 40 percent of marriages there are interchurch.

“We approach these marriages like any marriage. The couple requests a wedding date at the parish and then they enter into the parish’s specific marriage preparation process.”

He said many times a deacon is asked to prepare and preside at the wedding, since they are usually marriages outside of Mass.

In those cases where a couple would like to be married in a non-Catholic facility, permission from the archbishop must be obtained. The Catholic party in the wedding is asked to sign a document indicating the intention to teach the children about the Catholic faith. In those cases where the non-Catholic party is not baptized, a dispensation must be obtained through the chancery, according to Merritt.

Merritt said that there are as many interchurch marriages between Catholics who seldom attend Mass as there are with those who frequently attend. “I find that many times the interchurch engaged couples attend each others’ liturgy together on a regular basis to try to better understand how it could affect their own practice in the future.

“Unfortunately, many couples who do this tell me they feel more welcomed at the non-Catholic liturgy than at the Mass. The non-Catholic often feels like an outsider while the Catholic is welcomed at the non-Catholic liturgy.”

In the Savannah, Ga., diocese, an area where Catholics are fewer in numbers, the split between Catholic and interfaith marriages is about even, said Pat Brown, a sister of St. Mary of Namur and director of the family life office. “From 1998 to 2009 pretty consistently we have had almost 50/50 Catholic and interfaith marriages. In 2009 there were 236 Catholic marriages and 178 interfaith marriages. In the Hispanic community we find most of the marriages are Catholic.”

She said marriage preparation in the diocese does not focus specifically on or offer a special session for interfaith couples, “although that would be ideal. Many of our couples find it difficult to schedule even the one-day workshops since many are military, students or young professionals, so we haven’t offered an additional workshop for them. We do encourage discussion of spirituality, religious values and decisions around raising children while respecting each other’s faith.”

Interdenominational, ecumenical, interreligious, interchurch — all these terms are used. “Some involved in ministry prefer ‘interchurch’ because it defines each partner’s commitment to remain true to his or her religious heritage while working to restore unity among Christian churches,” said Elizabeth Bookser Barkley, professor at Cincinnati’s Mount St. Joseph College who writes about Catholic marriage.

“Whatever you call them, these marriages can enrich both partners and their churches if couples, along with their faith communities, acknowledge early on that they’ll have to work to keep both faiths intact.”

Couples in interchurch marriages “don’t like to see their marriages treated like problems,” says Fr. George Kilcourse, professor of theology at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Ky., and founder of the American Association of Interchurch Families. “The problem is not their marriage, but the division between churches into which they’ve been baptized. We need to start putting the emphasis where it belongs: Christian churches’ indifference to unity.”

The Second Vatican Council’s “Decree on Ecumenism” speaks of the scandal of baptized Christians and churches being divided, according to Kilcourse. “For that reason, the church irreversibly committed itself to the visible restoration of full communion. In the same way, the council’s reference to ‘the separated brethren’ suffers from misunderstanding. Such a separation or division of Christians implies an anomaly. It is a situation which ought not to exist among baptized persons.”

It’s not that Protestants have arrogantly separated themselves from the Catholic church; Catholics and Protestants alike are victims, Kilcourse said.

He cited the words of the “Decree on Ecumenism,” which said: “The children who are born into these communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection.”

Kilcourse said that a pair of steps could move the church toward healing this division with regard to interchurch marriages.

  1. “First, Catholics need to recognize the integrity with which interchurch families constitute a ‘domestic church,’ a church of the home that responds to Christ’s universal call to holiness.”
  2. Second, bishops need to embrace and put into practice all the pastoral possibilities envisioned in the Vatican’s 1993 “Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism.”

“The extraordinary possibility of limited eucharistic sharing is pastoral care especially relevant for authentically interchurch couples. They are very different from ‘mixed marriage’ couples because they conscientiously remain active in their own church, participate to varying degrees in their spouse’s church, and both take an active role in the religious education of children. They bring both extraordinary gifts and unique needs to the church.”

Newly married interchurch couples benefit from open-mindedness, listening to one another’s religious story, and making visible in their relationship the unity that Christ wills for the church, according to Kilcourse.

“I often remind such couples that in the marriage rite we affirm, ‘What God has joined, we must not divide.’ In that sense, we priests and deacons who witness interchurch marriages are defenders of the bond in a special ecumenical sense. The church even delegates to the Protestant spouse a special ministry in the church — to see that children are raised according to the law of Christ and the church. In light of Vatican Council II’s ‘Declaration on Religious Liberty,’ a Protestant spouse is free to make an equivalent promise as the Catholic about baptizing and then raising the child in his/her own church.

“So couples need to work out, in the context of their unique relationship, the religious identity of children in a way that respects their ecumenical, or interchurch, identity.”

The council reminded us, Kilcourse said, that “whatever is truly Christian never conflicts with the genuine interests of the faith; indeed, it can only result in more ample realization of the very mystery of Christ and the church.”

Rich Heffern is an NCR staff writer.

Double Belonging: Interchurch Families and Christian Unity [Paperback]                 by George A. Kilcourse Jr. (Author)

In a work that’s useful to both interchurch families and their pastoral ministers, the author addresses such issues as marriage preparation, joint celebration of sacraments, children’s religious education, selection of “home churches” and more.

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This excellent and prophetic book deals with the practical difficulties of marriage among Christians of various churches as well as implied theological issues. It will be useful to couples planning or involved in such marriages, to clergy ministering to church members with spouses in another denomination, and to anyone concerned about future directions in Christian ecumenism.

Kilcourse emphasizes that these couples are not the problem: Christian disunity is. While written from a Roman Catholic perspective, the book has a deep understanding of issues and could aid all Christians.

Essential for public and seminary libraries; recommended for academic libraries.

Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Paperback: 179 pages

Publisher: Paulist Pr (March 1992)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0809132923

ISBN-13: 978-0809132928

Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches

Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces

Double Belonging Interchurch Families and Christian Unity
Author: George Kilcourse
Double Belonging explains the theological, psychological, and pastoral issues involved when two people who are deeply committed to their own different faiths plan to marry. This new thinking in the church sees a role for both to remain faithful to their own churches and raise their children in a truly “interchurch” family. These are the dedicated Christian families, Catholic and Protestant, who belong doubly to two churches.

Fr. George Kilcourse explores the pastoral implications of these families, including the needs and attitudes of engaged couples, their in-laws and the newlyweds themselves. In Double Belonging, Kilcourse strengthens the identity of these families by examining the “gifts” they have to offer their now-divided churches. His persuasive pastoral theology supports “interchurch” families who actively participate in the churches of both wife and husband because the children and spouses of these families create a unique “double-belonging” by virtue of a common baptism and an active church life. Denominational boundaries are removed in the joint cooperation and common goals of the family, and the ecumenical future becomes brighter than ever before.


Conversazione at Caravita – Rome

21 April 2009, Tuesday • 6.30 PM (18.30)
Interchurch Families:
Challenges and Opportunities for Common Witness

The Rev. George Kilcourse
Professor of Theology, Bellarmine College, Louisville, USA
Founder of the American Association of Interchurch Families

A Reception will Follow • All are welcome


Flannery O’Connor’s Religious Imagination: A World with Everything Off Balance [Paperback]     by George A. Kilcourse Jr. (Author)

Book Description

Publication Date: November 1, 2001

Flannery O’Connor’s deep Catholic faith permeated her writing, sometimes in unexpected ways. Indeed, her very imaginative and sometimes grotesque characters were often searching for redemption, many seeking God’s grace through unusual, even bizarre means. Flannery O’Connor used many tools in crafting her work, especially the use of irony and the darker dimensions of humor. She strongly opposed the increased secularism of the modern world, and what she saw as its pervasive nihilism.

George Kilcourse, Jr., uses Flannery O’Connor’s correspondence with her friends and associates to help define her approach to writing, and to give insight into her literary characters. Her roots in the deep South color much of her work.

This book provides important insights into the life, work, and faith of Flannery O’Connor. It will be ideal for use in college theology or literature classes, although the general reader will also benefit from it. Indeed, anyone wishing to explore the religious dynamic in O’Connor’s writing will appreciate this fascinating book.


George Kilcourse shows O’Connor’s deep theological kinship with the great Catholic minds of her time. — Ralph C. Wood

It will enrich your appreciation of an important modern writer. — The Courier-Journal

This book succeeds in showing Flannery O’Connor as imaginatively gifted and theologically learned. — America

About the Author

George A. Kilcourse, Jr., a priest of the archdiocese of Louisville, holds a Ph.D. from Fordham University. He is professor of theology at Bellarmine College, Louisville, KY.

Product Details

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Paulist Press (November 1, 2001)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0809140055

ISBN-13: 978-0809140053

Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 0.6 x 0.1 inches



Ace of Freedoms: Thomas Merton’s Christ [Hardcover]   by Father George A. Kilcourse, Jr.

From Library Journal

According to Kilcourse (theology, Bellarmine Coll.), Merton’s quest for his own identity was rooted in his kenotic Christology and contributed to his ability to lead readers to find their own identity.

Kilcourse develops this thesis from an examination of Merton’s poetry, as well as his various prose genres. Through the kenotic Christ, Merton “discovers the epiphany of Christ in the human experience of poverty, in historical discontinuities, at the margins of Christendom, and in the rejection and vulnerability of the world’s scarred victims and despised outcasts.”

This book is both a reappraisal of Merton as writer, critic, and spiritual leader and spiritual reading in itself. Highly recommended for all libraries.

Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

Hardcover: 288 pages

Publisher: Univ of Notre Dame Pr; First edition (January 1993)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0268006369

ISBN-13: 978-0268006365

Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches




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Iris Garden

Prades 2000

By Ginny Bear
Redmond, Washington

Prades’ first spring in the new millennium was well underway as thirty Merton pilgrims arrived for a nine-day program to Thomas Merton’s birthplace. A little further up the slopes of Mt. Canigou, the flowers had already dropped from the peach trees on the mountain side of the Abbey of St. Michel de Cuxa, and the iris garden on the town side was a mass of colour.

Down the hill, 6,000-inhabitant Prades retains its ancient charm. Although the twenty-first century has arrived (to the relief of those who patronized the convenient commercial Internet access shop), the town itself remains the embodiment of a world that was civilized long before Europeans discovered the New World. I had researched the area in books and on the Internet in advance, but it was even more beautiful than promised.

Prades is located in the south of France, in a valley where several rivers meet on their way to the Mediterranean, in the Pyrenees-Orientales administrative department. It is also part of Catalonia, a Catalan-speaking region on both sides of the nearby Spanish border. Thomas Merton was born in Prades, eighty-five years before our visit, on the second floor of an ordinary building, at an unpretentious intersection of Prades’ narrow streets. Although his artist parents had hoped Prades would be a haven, the nearing of the conflicts of WW I as well as money problems led them to the United States a year later. Merton returned to southern France with his father from the ages of 10-13, and later, although he never returned again, kept alive his memories of France as well as his fluency in the language.


This lifelong attachment was all very obvious and reasonable to the members of the second Thomas Merton in France pilgrimage, from the moment we arrived. The majority of us were Canadian, the rest from the U.S. Drawn by the well-known Cistercian (Trappist) spiritual teacher and prolific author, we gathered for a total experience of academic seminars, fellowship, travel, and French hospitality.Donald Grayston and Judith Hardcastle were our tour leaders, competently arranging the academic content as well as serving as regional experts, answering questions ranging from advising those who had hoped to scale Mt. Canigou (not this year, the snow line was still too low), to those who needed to know what kinds of medicine were available at the local pharmacy. Another key person, although not listed on the brochure, was Christine Hicks, of the Prades Tourist Office, English but long resident in Prades. I do not think anyone will soon forget the barbecue held at her home for the local and international Merton Society members, with an endless parade of meats from the grill, and remarkable demonstrations of agility in drinking from long-necked pitchers held high in the air!

Three well-known Merton scholars were part of the pilgrimage: the already mentioned tour leader Rev. Donald Grayston (Anglican), author of several essays and articles on Merton, Fr. George Kilcourse (Roman Catholic), recipient of the 1995 book award from the ITMS for Ace of Freedoms: Thomas Merton’s Christ, and Sr. Donna Kristoff, OSU (Roman Catholic), artist, ITMS board member, and Merton researcher and teacher. It was a unique opportunity to engage with them both formally and as fellow pilgrims.

The rest of us ranged from the irrepressible Sr. Michelle, 50-years professed pride of the Ursulines, to three articulate college students, with a good variety of people in between. The interchange of views was sometimes bracing, but new friendships were made, and each participant had cause to be grateful to that “great and mischievous monk” who drew us all to Prades.

Open-Air Market, Prades

We stayed in two hotels in the center of town. We breakfasted in our hotels, speaking quietly with other participants about the day just past or the day to come. The program was a combination of lecture/discussion seminars, group travel, and free time. Classes were only a few blocks away, either in the old town hall off the town square, or in the Tourist Office. Seminar topics included: Merton as Icon, The Mertons: A Family of Artists, Autobiographical Writings, Contemplative Poet, Merton in St. Antonin, Zen Brushstrokes, French Poems, Frenchness of Merton and Contemplative Social Critic. Only those who were attending for academic credit had a final paper to write.Time passed at a different speed in Prades, and we tried to adjust. Lunch hour was longer than an hour, but that didn’t mean we could wander aimlessly through Prades looking for lunch, since many of the shops closed at mid day. It took a while to understand when we needed to hurry, and when we didn’t. Group meals went on for hours sometimes, as we sampled the cuisine of the area and got to know each other better. Other times, meals were opportunities to go off individually or in small groups, providing occasions to try out high school or more recently acquired French. Although some spoke English, any sincere effort to speak French seemed appreciated by the tolerant townspeople, already accustomed to tourists such as those who come to the annual Pablo Casals music festival.

 Lunch in St. Antonin

We spent one night in picturesque St. Antonin, several hours away by bus. St. Antonin is located in a valley with steep cliffs, next to a river now promoted for kayaking and canoeing. The town has not lost the medieval flavor it had in Merton’s time. Many streets are too narrow for cars, with mysterious gates opening to the river, another street, or not opening at all. A large but architecturally unremarkable church remains at the very center. Like most of the churches we visited, it was very quiet and not recently renovated, and I wondered how much more lively it would be for Sunday masses. We visited the stone house built by Merton’s father, and met the friendly couple who lives there now. The town seemed to draw us all into a meditative wandering of its streets, and we left reluctantly for the bus ride back to Prades.The pilgrimage closed with a last delicious dinner at the hotel, with a clown who did not need English to entertain, and with awards made appropriately and humorously to each person. I don’t remember all of the awards, but mine was “Brave Vegetarian”, and another participant was presented with and graciously wore an appropriately monogrammed papal miter! The following morning we dispersed in all directions of the compass, all grateful for nine precious days in Merton’s French homeland.

Abbey at St. Michel de Cuxa

A year later, I still savor the beauty of Prades and southern France, far from the rolling fields and knobs of Kentucky where Merton spent the second half of his life. But paradoxically, his entrance into the enclosed monastery only strengthened his French ties. Merton could not come to France, so France came to him. The Cistercian order originated in France centuries ago, and it was a matter of monastic obedience for Merton to work with French language materials as well as to serve as French interpreter for visitors. I suspect that this obedience must have also had an element of joy, judging by the relish with which he discusses all things French in his writings.

We too, of the Merton Pilgrimage, gained a taste of that French part of Merton’s joy.

Simon Fraser University will be offering another ‘Thomas Merton in France’ pilgrimage in May, 2004.



Topic: “Resurrecting the Body Ecumenical”
Convener: George Kilcourse, Jr., Bellarmine University
Presenters: Janice Thompson, University of Notre Dame; Ralph Del Colle, Marquette University
Respondents: Joan McGuire, O.P., Director of the Office of Ecumenism & Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Chicago; Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., Loyola Marymount University

Ralph Del Colle developed the theological imperative of ecumenism and growth “toward full communion in truth and charity” in the context of his marriage to an Episcopalian wife. He drew from Vatican Council II teachings, the 1993 Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism, John Paul II’s encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint., and “Interchurch Families and Christian Unity,” the 2003 Rome paper of the World Gathering of Interchurch Families. The bulk of his remarks focused upon spiritual ecumenism. He forthrightly voiced his “serious reservations over Catholics sharing Eucharistic communion in their spouse’s church.” In support of his thesis, Del Colle pointed out that Catholics are “more sacramentally dense in their spirituality” than other Christians, a fact that poses for him an “enormous” difference. Even though his wife is an Episcopalian, he finds that “we still do not have the same sacramental sensibilities.” Identifying three aspects of ecumenism found in UUS (renewal and conversion, the fundamental importance of doctrine, and the primacy of prayer), Del Colle concluded that, “Ecumenism cannot bypass communion in truth.” He offered the example of developments surrounding the consecration of Gene Robinson to the episcopate as disruptive of ecumenical relations and potentially church-dividing within the Anglican Communion: “What for her [his wife’s] church is a matter of discipline is for my church a matter of doctrine.”

Janice Thompson admitted in her reflections both a challenge and opportunity. She and her husband “have struggled with the rules that each of our two churches impose on the way we are able to worship together and the ways we are able to celebrate or mourn major family events in our two communities.” The Anglican in an interchurch marriage, Thompson insisted on the “special role” they play “in the healing and resurrection of the ‘body’ of the church ecumenical.” Her initiative and success in receiving the local Roman Catholic bishop’s permission for Eucharistic sharing with her husband at Mass on their wedding day (before the Marriage liturgy) met resistance from a Catholic in her husband’s family. The bishop then asked whether her actions appeared to produce more division than unity. She described being “stunned” and “hurt” by the experience; however, the following Sunday her Catholic husband did the most to offer healing by following her for the first time to communion in the Anglican Church.

Thompson reflected on the affirmations of Lumen Gentium and Familiaris Consortio: the family is a “domestic church” and “a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communio,” upholding interchurch family experience as itself an embodiment of church. She singled out the analogy of interchurch families as “connective tissue” to heal the body as articulated at the Rome 2003 Gathering of Interchurch Families—a description of their vocation vis-à-vis divided churches. She described interchurch couples as “inter-personal bridges of understanding and trust” to correct misunderstandings and bring richer understandings to their respective churches: “Because of our commitment to each other, my husband and I have learned to be far more patient and forgiving of each other’s church communities when we run into problems, much like we have to be patient with our in-laws.”

Joan McGuire remarked how Ralph Del Colle and Janice Thompson witness in their lives and reflections to ecumenical principles of self-revelation, distinctions between not only ecumenical relations but also liturgical and non-liturgical Protestant practices, and the necessity of partners to continue loving and communicating when they differ in beliefs and forms of worship. The presentations on spiritual ecumenism, the body ecumenical, and the domestic church suggested to her that a new interchurch “BEM” [Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry] study on Baptism, Eucharist and Marriage is opportune. Aware of the difficulties that interchurch children may experience, McGuire, nevertheless, asked if children raised in one church with a deep appreciation of another church might not result in a generation of well qualified ecumenical dialogue partners. She also expressed hope in actions beneficial to interchurch families from Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Walter Kasper, theologians who have lived in countries with many interchurch families.

Thomas Rausch pointed out how Janice Thompson’s paper “lifts up the pain” experienced in interchurch marriages. He insisted that her in-law who “blew the whistle” on Eucharistic sharing on their wedding day did not understand where the Catholic Church is on this exceptional practice. Rausch remarked that the metaphor of interchurch families as “a connective tissue” between divided churches (“Interchurch Families and Christian Unity,” The Second World Gathering of Interchurch Families, Rome, July 2003) suggests a more organic model of unity. He affirmed Del Colle’s description of Pentecostals as not seeking intercommunion; yet many Pentecostals, Rausch replied, are willing to recognize the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and some want Eucharistic hospitality. He emphasized the difference between a simply “mixed marriage” and a truly conscientious interchurch marriage. Referring to Del Colle’s Episcopalian wife, he admitted that the ordination of Gene Robinson as bishop in the Episcopal Church presents a difficult case. Yet in the Roman Catholic Church, Rausch remarked, there is also division on this issue (especially among younger Catholics).

On the question of intercommunion and Eucharistic hospitality, Rausch found Vatican Council II ambiguous but also noted that the council did not absolutely forbid communio in sacris. He distinguished terms to ask that the Catholic Church reflect on catholicity—not seeing it as “full” or “perfect” communion, but as “universal” vs. “particular.” Such inclusiveness in the church’s catholicity would acknowledge all expressions of Christ, even if not full or complete. He recommended recognizing the ecclesial status of other churches on the basis of creeds, consensus statements on justification, etc. He pointed to ecumenical communities living together (such as Taize and covenant relationships) as signs of growing communion. In He asked, What is to prevent the Roman Catholic Church from recognizing occasionally discreet Eucharistic sharing? Rausch advised that we “push the envelope” because (1) sacramental marriage is a true communion in Christ that merits Eucharistic expression, and (2) discreet permission for Eucharistic sharing in the case of interchurch families who already share faith and life is most appropriate. He cited the February 2005 article in The Tablet, reporting that Swiss bishops have secured Vatican permission for Eucharistic sharing at the marriage liturgies of interchurch couples.

Bellarmine University
Louisville, Kentucky


Virginia 1996

The ninth international conference of interchurch families held at Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk, Virginia, USA, 24-28 July 1996, brought together participants from Canada, England, France, Ireland, Italy and the United States. It was the ninth biennial English-speaking international conference, but the first to be held outside the British Isles.

This alone gave a new global dimension to the interchurch family movement. The fact that in 1998 the English-speaking international conference will return to Europe but will join together with the French-speaking movement of foyers mixtes, with simultaneous translation into both languages, will significantly deepen this global dimension.

We offer this number of Interchurch Families as a Virginia Report; a reminder of those days together for those who were present, and a way of sharing in them for those who could not be there. All the texts are shortened, but we give something from each of the main addresses by the Revd Dr Judy Bennett of the Virginia Council of Churches, Nicola Kontzi, who works with Fr René Beaupère, O.P., at the Centre St Irénée, Lyon, Canon Martin Reardon, General Secretary of Churches Together in England, and Fr Ladislas Orsy, S.J., of Georgetown University, a leading expert in canon law. Fr Falardeau, Director of the Office of Ecumenism in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, prepared his text for one of the workshops; it offers a good introduction to the conference theme:

Interchurch Families: Catalysts for Church Unity.

We are grateful to participants who sent in their reactions to the Virginia experience, and sorry they had to be so drastically shortened. There was a wealth of workshop riches which can only be mentioned here: Fr George Kilcourse on interchurch families as a case study in Koinonia; Mitzi Knutzen and Sr Peggy O’Leary on the Minneapolis Lutheran-Catholic Covenant and Guidelines for Interchurch Marriage (details on this in a later issue); Bonnie Mack of the Cincinnati Family Life Office on “Living in the Weaver’s Home” – family spirituality; Barb and Michael Slater on “We all need windows – setting up a local group of AIF”; Fr Philippe Thibodeau, Director of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, Montreal, on “Reception: what can we do to help the churches?”; Fr Gregory Wingenbach, Director of the Kentuckiana Interfaith Community, on “Beyond dialogue – sharing in marriage and family life”. One regret expressed by a number of participants was that there was too little time for sharing experiences in small groups; some of the worskshops partially fulfilled this need.

We hope to offer other material later – a fuller version of Fr Orsy’s address, workshop material and an update on what has been happening around the world before Virginia and as a result of the conference. Michael Lawler, Director of the Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, spoke of his research on interchurch families, and we hope to give progress reports. Further reflections on Virginia, post-conference news and suggestions for the way forward for interchurch families on the global level will be warmly welcomed by the editor.

Mention should be made of the great debt of gratitude owed both to Fr George Kilcourse of Bellarmine College, Louisville, for all the work he put in to the organisation of the conference, and also to the local covenanted Church of the Holy Apostles (Episcopalian and Roman Catholic) at Virginia Beach, whose clergy and members shared in parts of the conference and welcomed participants so warmly to their community and to their homes.

Ruth Reardon

Interchurch Families Around the World

In our last number we offered a round­up giving a brief history and current preoccupations of interchurch families in France, Britain and Ireland. As promised, we now extend our view to other parts of the world. We shall continue the process in the Summer 1994 Journal. Please send us your news! (Email it to the Association of Interchurch Families, London, England)


A pluralist society

In his recent book Double Belonging Fr George Kilcourse lecturer in theology at Bellarmine College, Louisville, Kentucky, suggests that interchurch marriage questions were addressed later in the U.S. than in Europe because of the immense complexity of the situation. There are so many church groupings that interchurch families are far more diverse.

In the late nineteen­seventies a Central New York Interfaith Marriage Ministry set up by couples included Christian­Jewish marriages as well as mixed Christian marriages; Dr Richard Lawless, Vicar for Education of the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, NY, tells the story in his book When Love Unites the Church (1982), which draws on his own experience of marriage with Lisette, an Episcopalian.

ARC marriages

The Anglican­Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) was mirrored in the United States by ARC/USA. Its first twelve­year report, Where We Are: a Challenge for the Future, called for some decisive action to follow on from its Agreed Statements. A Joint Committee of Episcopal and Roman Catholic Diocesan Ecumenical Officers (EDEO/ NADEO) got to work by encouraging and evaluating the “ARC Covenants” which were linking some of the parishes of the two communions.

In the early nineteen­eighties they followed up this work with parish covenants by starting to look at the lived experience of “ARC couples”, and brought out several booklets (ARC Marriages, Pastoral Care for ARC Couples) and ARC Baptisms for the use of those concerned with the pastoral care of Episcopal­Roman Catholic families. George Kilcourse was involved in this work at national level, and then in the production of Episcopal­Roman Catholic Marriage Guidelines for the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Diocese of Kentucky in 1985. The two Dioceses of Albany (Roman Catholic and Episcopal) had already brought out a booklet Pastoral Considerations: Episcopal­Roman Catholic Marriages in 1982.

A Lutheran­Catholic group

It was the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Augsberg Confession in 1980 that led to the formation of a group of Lutheran­Catholic couples in Milwaukee. Three pastors in Brookfield, Wisconsin agreed that a good way of getting Lutherans and Catholics to know each other better would be to start with couples who were partners in interchurch marriages. Thus “Lutheran­Catholic Dialogue Couples” (their logo LCDC formed into the early Christian fish symbol) was born. The group is still going today, and draws from nine congregations in and around Milwaukee. Martin and Ruth Reardon were able to take greetings from English AIF when they visited the group at the home of Ronn and Jacquie Rieger in September 1993.

Ecumenical marriages

When it was not a case of bilateral guidelines or groups, the preferred term to distinguish mixed Christian marriages from interfaith marriages was for a time “ecumenical marriages”. Working with a sociologist at Bellarmine College, George Kilcourse produced a survey called Ministry to Ecumenical Marriages for the Archdiocese of Louisville in 1983, while in 1987 NADEO published hisEcumenical Marriage: an Orientation Booklet for Engaged Couples, Families, Pastoral Ministers, Religious Educators.

In preparation for this booklet, pilot groups of “ecumenical couples” had been established (or discovered) in five cities in the United States, some of them bilateral (Lutheran­Roman Catholic, Episcopal­Roman Catholic), some multilateral, and had used the AIF (England) publication, Two­Church Families as a catalyst for discussion and reflection. “Unlike England”, wrote Fr Kilcourse, “we do not have a single, dominant bilateral model for ecumenical families. And in some significant ways the inherited wounds and attitudes of divisiveness reflected in Two­Church Families are not nearly as deep or scarred in our nation where religious pluralism and ecumenical cooperation flourish.”

Orthodox Family Ministries

In North America the Orthodox­Roman Catholic dialogue had a primarily pastoral focus, and included consideration of mixed marriages and interchurch families. Joint statements were followed up between 1985 and 1990 by the national Office of Family and Pastoral Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, whose Director at that time was Fr Gregory Wingenbach. Guidelines published included Marriage in the Orthodox Church (1987) and Two . . . Yet One in Christ (1989).

An American AIF

In 1988 George Kilcourse was present at the fifth International Conference of Interchurch Families at Lingfield, England and made personal contact (correspondence began long before) with interchurch family movements in Britain and France. He was able to announce the good news of the imminent establishment of an American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF). The Louisville group, along with other groups with whom he was in contact when preparing Ecumenical Marriage, had unanimously agreed to launch a U.S. network of interchurch families.. NADEO gave a grant for the publication of the first two issues of The Ark, AAIF’s newsletter, and these issues (multiple copies) were distributed through all the Catholic Diocesan Ecumenical Officers. Three couples from Milwaukee, Tideville, and Louisville addressed the Ecumenical Officers at the NADEO National Workshop on Christian Unity at Indianapolis in 1989.

The Louisville group of Interchurch provided the editorial and design staff for The Ark, which first appeared in 1989. They worked closely with Dr Gregory Wingenbach, who in 1990 became Director of the Kentuckiana Interfaith Community in Louisville, and in 1992 The Ark became a pullout from KIC’s newspaper, Horizon. An Interchurch couple from Louisville, Pete and Mary Jane Glauber, with their three children, were present at the sixth International Conference of Interchurch Families at Corrymeela, Northern Ireland, as were Fr Gregory and George Kilcourse.

Roman Catholic/Southern Baptist couples

ARC couples have not been the only ones to get bilateral attention. In parts of the south a high proportion of mixed marriages involve Roman Catholics and Baptists, and in 1990 two sets of guidelines were issued for those involved in preparing such couples for marriage: Southern Baptist­Roman Catholic Interchurch Marriage Guidelines Recommended for the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Long Run Baptist Association and Ecumenical Marriages: a Handbook for Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists in Virginia, the latter sponsored by the Virginia Baptist General Board and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

The Louisville Guidelines were shorter, and were sent out by the Archdiocese and the Association on a trial basis. The dialogue team which prepared them committed themselves both to recruit Southern Baptist­Roman Catholic couples to join them in “peer ministry” programs of marriage preparation, and also to act as facilitators for couples who wished to assess their marriage, at six or eighteen month intervals after their wedding, at a brief Interchurch marriage workshop. The Virginia handbook was issued by the Diocese of Richmond and the Baptist Association of Virginia in a more finished form, it included a commendation of AAIF as a resource body.

Family Life Ministries

Many of the initiatives described above came from the ecumenical side; more recently those concerned with marriage and family life have entered the field. In the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland,Ohio, the Office for Marriage and Family Concerns worked with the Interfaith Commission to produce Guidelines for Interfaith Marriages in 1985; these were concerned with both ecumenical and interreligious marriages.

In 1988 the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska, issued Preparing for an Ecumenical Marriage, a text developed by the staff of the Family Life Of flee specifically for interdenominational couples, and expanded more recently with a section on parents and family members. This was offered as a supplementary program to the standard marriage preparation. However, Omaha did not begin with a text; Sr Jan Mengenhauser of the Family Life Of flee began by gathering a pilot group of couples in 1986 ­an “Interfaith Marriage Support Group”, and this became a parish­based programme in 1988. The supplementary program Preparing an Ecumenical Marriage was implemented in 1989 in three main ways: a trained ecumenical couple were responsible for the five sessions of the general marriage preparation programme, highlighting the special issues and skills important in making their marriages work; two trained couples presented a panel discussion for those who could not get to the five sessions ­ couples already married were invited as well as those preparing for marriage; and ecumenical couples in specific parishes were trained to do a parish­based ecumenical marriage preparation program supplementary to the standard one. The Family Life Office has also offered a retreat day for ecumenical couples, and Omaha couples have acted as facilitators in ecumenical dialogues.

Another Family Life Office which has developed work with Interchurch couples is that of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio. One of the staff members, Bonnie Mack, is herself a Presbyterian married to Tom, a Roman Catholic, so has a personal involvement. The Cincinnati Family Life Office has trained Interchurch couples for marriage preparation, and gradually an on­going group has come into being. In May 1993 Cincinnati and Louisville couples met together for a joint seminar, “Listen to our story”, hosted by the Louisville AAIF chapter. Then in October the Cincinnati Association of Interchurch Families was officially formed at an overnight retreat held at Higher Ground Retreat Centre in Indiana.

Other dioceses are following suit. The Center for Family Ministry in the Diocese of Joliet organized a day workshop in March 1993, with George Kilcourse, for couples involved in marriage preparation, and as a follow­up offered a two evening workshop for couples themselves in the autumn.

And so on

AAIF is trying to keep contact with all the Interchurch family groups and initiatives which can be found in the United States ­ a difficult task in a country of that size. The Ark has reported on groups or chapters in Virginia Beach, in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, and in Tri­Boro, New Jersey. A group in Colchester, Vermont, called together on the initiative of the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission, had several meetings n 1991 and 1992, and hopes to meet again in 1994. There are probably others. As in England, groups and chapters will tend to form and disappear depending on who is where when, but all efforts contribute to the lengthy process of getting the spiritual needs of Interchurch families known in all our churches, stimulating pastoral care for such families, and working towards the day when we shall all come together in the One Church of Christ.


Interchurch and mixed couples would be helped by seeing the churches working together in marriage preparation and support.

If the churches could come together for marriage, they would both be supporting Interchurch families and fulfilling a mission which is of great urgency today. This is the conclusion which the Group for Local Unity of Churches Together in England reached in its report which is due to be published in 1994, the International Year of the Family.

Starting from the other end, beginning not from a concern for Christian unity but for the survival of marriage, a similar plea for the churches to get together for marriage preparation and support has recently been made in the United States (see Marriage Savers, by Michael McManus, Zondervan, 1993). In some parts of the United States local churches have covenanted together in a Community Marriage Policy, agreeing on minimum standards for the preparation and support of marriages celebrated in church ­ any church in the area. They have drawn on the best experience right across the denominations, and agreed to use it together, in a common policy.

Fr. George Kilcourse

  • In April 2009 Dr. Kilcourse presented a paper entitled “‘Revelation’ and the Good under construction: Ruby Turpin’s Entry into the Purgative Way,” at Reason, Fiction and Faith: An International Flannery O’Connor Conference at Pontificia Universita della Santa Croce, Rome, Italy.
  • His review essay on Kenneth Paul Kramer, Redeeming Time: T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets,” appeared in Spiritus [Journal of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality] VIII:2 (Fall 2008), 238-41.

Beatitudes for Interchurch Families

Blessed are the interchurch spouses who participate also in the church of their partners from another Christian tradition; theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Blessed are the interchurch parents who share fully together in the religious education of their children; such children will grow to see the unity of the Body of Christ.

Blessed are the sorrowing interchurch families who have not found pastors to accept and minister to their needs; they will be comforted.

Blessed are the merciful interchurch couples who patiently work with their pastors and help to awaken them to Christ’s presence in their marriage; they will know mercy.

Blessed are the interchurch spouses who are pure of heart; their marriage will be recognized as a sacrament of Christ.

Blessed are the interchurch couples who minister to engaged and newly married interchurch couples; on them God’s favor rests.

Blessed are the interchurch families who hunger and thirst for the unity of the Body of Christ; they will be satisfied.

Blessed are interchurch spouses when they persecute you and utter all kinds of slander against you because you have married a Christian from another tradition; you will be called daughters and sons of God.

Offered by Fr George Kilcourse,
Professor of Theology at Bellarmine College,
Louisville, Kentucky

Fr George composed these beatitudes for a presentation which he made in California in 1997. He writes: “In my preparation, I spent time in prayer reflecting upon how often our AIF work gets derailed with intricacies of church bureaucracies and laws. So instead of writing a new Decalogue or Ten Commandments for Interchurch Couples, I decided that it would be more in the spirit of Jesus to proclaim Blessings. Interchurch families are indeed a genuine grace in the life of the churches. And these modest Beatitudes are an attempt to celebrate their faith-filled lives. “


International conferences of interchurch families

The Association of Interchurch Families in England (founded 1968) has always wanted to know what was happening to similar families in other countries. In 1969 the second national conference included speakers from Holland and France, priests involved in the pastoral care of interchurch couples.

Rydal 1980
The first English-speaking international conference was held in 1980, at Rydal Hall in the English Lake District. The purpose was consultation between the three interchurch family associations in England, the Irish Republic (founded 1973) and Northern Ireland (1974). A couple from Australia also participated. The conference sent a letter to the Synod of Bishops that met in Rome in 1980 on the subject of Marriage and Family Life, with a copy to Cardinal Willebrands, President of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Interchurch families were encouraged by the Cardinal’s intervention on mixed marriages in the Synod debates. The 1980 meeting showed them that on the international as well as on the national level it was valuable to meet for mutual support, and also to find a common voice.

International conferences in Britain and Ireland, 1982-1994
From then on, English-speaking international conferences were held every two years, and the French foyers mixtes, based on Lyon, regularly sent two French couples as participants. The following conferences were held between 1982 and 1994:

  • 1982 at Corrymeela, Northern Ireland, on the theme: Authority: marriage, baptism, communion.
  • 1984 at Dunblane, Scotland, again focusing on Authority: personal and institutional values.
  • 1986 at Bellinter House, Navan, Irish Republic, on the theme of ‘Double Belonging’.
  • 1988 at Lingfield, England, on Faith and its expression in beliefs and practice.
  • 1990 at Corrymeela, Northern Ireland, on Spirituality.
  • 1992 at Perth, Scotland, on Telling our story.
  • 1994 at Bellinter House, Irish Republic, on The Nurture of Mixed and Interchurch Families.

Virginia 1996

In 1996, largely thanks to Fr George Kilcourse, who had participated in Lingfield 1988 and subsequent conferences, and had been joined by a few other Americans and a Canadian couple, Joy and Edouard Bédard, the ninth conference moved to the United States. It was held at Norfolk, Virginia, on the theme Interchurch Families: catalysts for Church Unity. Some Canadian interchurch families participated.

Meanwhile, the first francophone international meeting had been held at Versailles in 1995, and a second at Lyon in 1997. Previously, French-speaking conferences were held regionally in different parts of France, in Switzerland and in Italy (see Interchurch Families 2000,10,2, pp.9-10, for the series of Franco-Swiss-Italian conferences held in northern Italy between 1970 and 1999). There was a third francophone conference at le Rocheton, near Paris, in 2000. A fourth is planned for 2004.

First World Gathering of Interchurch Families, Geneva 1998
Virginia 1996, the first international English-speaking conference held outside Europe, and Lyon 1997, the second francophone international conference, were followed in 1998 by the first World Gathering of Interchurch Families, organised in Geneva by French and Swiss foyers mixtes. It was the first bi-lingual conference, with French and English on equal terms, and some German used too. The theme was Interchurch Families and the Churches (see Interchurch Families 1999, 7, 1).

Edmonton 2001
Following Geneva, the French did not wish to commit themselves to a conference in Canada, but French- and English-speaking groups agreed to follow up Geneva 1998 together, with a second world gathering in or near Rome in 2003. The Canadians planning Edmonton 2001 were very ready to provide English-French simultaneous translation, but it was not needed since the Canadian interchurch family groups have as yet no wholly French-speaking couples in membership. Two of the main speakers were, however, French-speaking Canadians, Brother Gilles Bourdeau OFM, Director of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism in Montreal, and Bishop Marc Ouellet PSS, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Their addresses were given in English.

Edmonton 2001 was thus the tenth in the series of English-speaking international conferences that have brought together interchurch families mainly from Britain and Ireland, North America and Australia. There have regularly been a few others, and Edmonton was enriched by participants from Germany and Austria, besides a Ghanaian priest working in Canada who presented a beautiful Ghanaian cloth to interchurch families worldwide. It was used as an altar-cloth in Edmonton and will go to Rome. The January 2002 number of Interchurch Families (10,1) was devoted to the Edmonton conference.

Second World Gathering of Interchuch Families, Rome 2003
As for Geneva 98, we are using in English a direct translation of the French description Rassemblement Mondial to distinguish this multilingual gathering from the series of English-speaking international conferences from Rydal to Edmonton. The planning group (Preproma) is working in four languages: English, French, German and Italian; these will be the languages of the conference. The first meeting of the planning group was held in Luserna near Torre Pellice in July 2001 and decided the theme of Rome 2003: United in baptism and marriage: interchurch families/ foyers interconfessionels/ konfessionsverbindende familien/ famiglie miste interconfessionali – called to a common life in the Church for the reconciliation of our churches.

The second full meeting of Preproma took place in Lyon in July 2002. The four language-group co-ordinators have met several times. A preparatory group has worked on the paper printed in this number of Interchurch Families (pp.1-7) by email and postal correspondence, with a final meeting in Zurich in September 2002. The Rome World Gathering will take place in the Better World Centre at Rocca di Papa, 24-28 July 2003. There is regularly updated information on the interchurch families world web site,


Interchurch Families


2-4 MAY 1992

This year Scottish AIF bravely agreed to host the seventh international conference of interchurch families. They made up for small numbers by their enthusiasm, and masterminded a lively weekend. St Mary’s Redemptorist monastery on Kinnoull Hill, Perth, with wonderful gardens and far-reaching views, was an ideal setting.

In 1990 we met in Ireland. Unfortunately the Northern and Southern Irish associations were unable to send representatives this time, but two couples came from the French Foyers Mixtes and Fr George Kilcourse, founder of the American AIF, joined us as he has done twice before, together with Orthodox priest Fr Gregory Wingenbach from the Kentuckian Interfaith Community. Dan O’Connor, Scottish Episcopalian priest and director of Scottish Churches House, acted throughout the weekend as a valued observer; we were grateful for his quiet encouragement.

Telling our Stories

On Saturday national groups presented the current situation within each association. Thanks to a timely detour off the M6, the English group were able to show the very first copy, hot off the reels, of the new AIF video, accompanied by a brief description of our current Development Appeal and of Mary Bard’s book in preparation: Telling our Story.

The Scots, mostly young families, presented a telling sketch. The group emigrated to the moon, each member having a different reason – to find a church where they really felt they belonged, to get away from parents’ well-meaning comments, to find an encouraging priest, and so on. Fortunately, they all agreed to return to earth rather than forming a new church on the moon, and to keep trying!

The two French couples represented different generations. They used their own experience to show how things in France have changed over the years with regard to marriage, baptism, religious education and eucharistic sharing. The children of the older couple had been baptised into the French Reformed Church, as the parents felt this gave them more options – interestingly, the opposite of what is often decided in England, perhaps explained by similar attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church in England and the French Reformed Church towards the ‘majority’ church.

Double Belonging

On Sunday morning George Kilcourse spoke on the ‘Telling our Story’ theme. His recently published book Double Belonging narrates the experience of many interchurch families, together with a theological commentary. He underlined the fact that, as the climate in the churches as a whole becomes more ecumenical, the more interchurch families are able to attend and hold ecumenical workshops and meetings, and the more people will appreciate the contribution interchurch families can make. The text of his talk is given in the Centrepiece of this newsletter.

Fr Greorge, looking at the U.S. situation, said that interchurch marriages, although growing in number, are still seen as an unwelcome phenomenon, a problem rather than a resource. But a high degree of ecumenical and interfaith co-operation is taken for granted, and couples find that their impact on hesitant or hostile clergy is greater if they affirm positively that interchurch marriage is the fruit of the Holy Spirit across the whole church. The church recognises and blesses that which is holy. Couples acting in co-operation with God are bringing themselves into the presence of God.

In our discussions we talked a lot about the vulnerability of interchurch couples – especially through their children – at different stages of their marriage, and therefore of the reluctance of the couples to be exposed because of this. George felt that the associations should act as the memory and conscience of the church, and by using video and various publications should tell the story of vulnerability and faith to illustrate the success of the interchurch family.

When Dan O’Connor summed up his feelings about the conference, he stressed that telling our stories needs to be linked with telling The Story (Jesus got into trouble about the rules because he put human need first). The new ecumenical instruments which have been set up in Britain show that the churches have committed themselves to moving forward together, so we may now call them to account when they seem to move too slowly, and to forget the needs of those who suffer most from christian divisions. As we have said so many times before, the disunity of the churches is the abnormality, not the marriage of interchurch couples.

Our worship during the weekend included songs from the Iona community and a lively dramatisation of the gospel by the children, who had also created decorative altar and lectern frontals. Moments of quiet prayer and of sharing the eucharist together united us in the peaceful oratory. We were also united in a visit to Scone Palace, an energetic ceilidh and our enjoyment of a robust Scottish diet.

Looking Ahead

The next international conference in 1994 coincides with the United Nations International Year of the Family, and we hope to focus on the theme of the nurture of mixed and interchurch families, while in 1996 we are invited to meet in the United States. The different emphasis in each national association enables us all to put our own situation into clearer perspective. It is good to know that the American association is growing fast, and that new groups are starting in New Zealand and Canada. Perhaps next time they will be with us too. Melanie Finch


Ethics As Fiction’

Flannery O’Connor’s Sacramental Art

The Catholic fiction writer from Georgia, Flannery O’Connor (1925-64), once volunteered that it would be 50 years before readers understood her stories. Half a century after the publication of her first novel, Wise Blood (1952), and the inaugural collection of her short stories, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955), interpreters of O’Connor gain well-timed momentum through Susan Srigley’s stimulating, cogent analyses.

Flannery O’Connor’s Sacramental Art breaks significant new ground, exploring the ethical implications of O’Connor’s sacramental view of reality. Srigley describes her task: “to approach ‘ethics as fiction.’” Defining Christ’s love as “love that serves one’s neighbor, a love for neighbor that equals or surpasses love of self,” she proposes such love as the source of O’Connor’s “ethic of responsibility.” Her analysis suggests how O’Connor’s attention to the interiority (ethos) of fictional characters either gives rise to responsible action or exhibits a vacuous inertia.

The first chapter assesses the influence of Jacques Maritain and Thomas Aquinas. Such scrutiny is wisely aimed, because O’Connor described herself as a “hillbilly Thomist.” Srigley translates challenging philosophical and aesthetic principles into lean, illuminative sentences. A Canadian who teaches religions and cultures at Nipissing University, in North Bay, Ontario, she mines Maritain’s sense of “the habit of art,” and “the work of the intellect to make it live” as key to understanding O’Connor’s métier.

The chapter “Sacramental Theology and Incarnational Art” renders a Catholic understanding of the intellect as integral to the soul’s movement toward mystery. Contemporary Catholics who bemoan the fundamentalism of catechisms and narrow moralizing will take heart from O’Connor’s caveat, duly noted in Flannery O’Connor’s Sacramental Art: “We Catholics are very much given to the Instant Answer. Fiction doesn’t have any.” No wonder she identified the great Catholic sin as “smugness.”

O’Connor finds the compass for her fiction writing in the marriage of transcendental beauty, the beauty that God beholds, with aesthetic beauty, the beauty perceived through the human senses. In her vision of reality, the horizon of the visible world opens to the invisible world. The physical unites with the spiritual, challenging the dominant culture’s ignorance of spiritual reality. (Srigley seems unaware of O’Connor’s debt to William F. Lynch, S.J., although she interweaves references to the analogical imagination and the interpenetration of finite and infinite.)

Srigley takes issue with critics who radically separate O’Connor’s theological inquiry from her fictional landscapes and characters. She demonstrates how the two are integrally connected in the religious artist’s imagination. Individual chapters on O’Connor’s two novels, Wise Bloodand The Violent Bear It Away (1960) and the short story “Revelation,” from the posthumously published collection Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965), offer Srigley’s interpretations in terms of an “ethic of responsibility.”

One disappointment I have about Flannery O’Connor’s Sacramental Art is that it evaluates so few short stories (her forte) vis-à-vis the ethic of responsibility. Her stories were frequently nominated for the O. Henry Award, which she received numerous times. Granted that “Revelation” is a signature O’Connor work (and Srigley’s analysis proves insightful about Ruby Turpin’s “purgatorial vision”), discussing this one short story only alongside two novels is a marked imbalance.

A substantive concern is Srigley’s interpretation of Hazel Motes, the protagonist of Wise Blood. She concludes that Hazel’s self-blinding “reveals his continued misperception of spiritual reality” and that his atonement by ascetic practices implies a return to his family’s religious views. Along with Richard Giannone and other O’Connor scholars, I perceive authentic conversion beyond his philosophical quest, as he confronts false religion and its surrogates with the exclamation, “It ain’t true.” O’Connor insisted that something in storytellers and their listeners “demands the redemptive act…demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored”—as well as the costly grace that measures “the price of restoration.” I would also suggest that Tarwater’s drowning-and-baptism of Bishop in The Violent Bear It Away is a more intentionally ambivalent action than Srigley seems to think. If the novel is truly “a minor hymn to the Eucharist” as O’Connor described it to one correspondent (a quotation Srigley surprisingly omits), then the form of words for the meaning of sacrament bears more theological significance than she allows.

As a theologian who has used Flannery O’Connor’s fiction in teaching undergraduates and graduate students for over a decade, I applaud Srigley’s approach to “ethics as fiction” and look forward to more of her provocative and intelligent interpretations of Flannery O’Connor.

Rev. George Kilcourse, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., is a professor of theology at Bellarmine University there and the author of Flannery O’Connor’s Religious Imagination (Paulist, 2001).


History of LARCUM 

Bishops’ Ecumenical Dialogue 

1.  1991 Bishop James R. Crumley, Jr.  “The History and Challenges of the Ecumenical Movement”

2.  1992  The Rev. George Kilcourse  “When Our Members Marry”

3.  1993 Dr. Janice Love “Sign Post on the Road to Unity: Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry”

4. 1994 The Rt. Rev. Roger J. White “Covenants and Covenanting”

5. 1995 Dr. H. Frederick Reisz, Jr. “Envisioning, Feeding, and Ministering Hope”

****Covenant Signed by the Bishops****

6. 1996 The Rev. Gerard Austin, OP “The Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist) The Making of Christians

7. 1997 Panel Representatives from Each Diocese “Race Relations: Searching to be Faithful to the Gospel”                                                                                                      *****Joint Declaration Against Racism Signed by the Bishops*****

8. 1998 Dr. Scott Jameson Jones “Implications for the Whole Church in light of Recently Released Ecumenical Documents”

9. 1999  The National Institute for Dialogues on Multi-Culturalism and Anti- Racism (Sandra Peters and Charlie Virga) “In the Name of God: The Churches Stand Against Racism”

10. 2000 The Rev. Dr. Daryl S. Everett and Dr. Robert D. Hawkins  “Supporting the Interchurch Family: Ecumenical Marriage”

11. 2001 Avery Cardinal Dulles and Dr. David S. Yeago  “Justification Today: What is the Spirit Saying to the Church?”

 12. 2002 – Spring  The Reverend Elizabeth S. Gamble    “Living Faithfully as Christians in a Multifaith World”

13. 2002 – Fall The Reverend Georg Retzlaff, PhD  “Embracing the Culture of Life – The Death Penalty in Theological, Biblical Context”

14. 2003 –Winter Dr. Michael Root  “Authority Ecumenical Challenge”

15. 2003 – Fall  The Most Reverend Placido Rodriguez  “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us”

 16. 2004 Dr. Carl Evans   “Who are our Neighbors? The Changing Religious Landscape in South Carolina and the Challenges for Communities of Faith”

 17. 2005 – Dr. Michael Root and Dr. J .Robert Wright  “In One Body Through the Cross (the Princeton Proposal)”

 18. 2009 – Brother Jeffrey Gros  “Moving Beyond Isolation: Embracing an Ecumenical Vision 


The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University is hosting a conference focusing on Thomas Merton’s poetry on Friday and Saturday, October 19-20, 2007.

The Merton Center is the official archive of Thomas Merton’s manuscripts and is the repository of the most complete collection of Merton materials in the world.

Participants in this conference will have the opportunity to visit the Thomas Merton Center. Special exhibits in the W.L. Lyons Brown Library and the Merton Center will focus on Merton’s poetry. There will also be opportunities to listen to recordings of Merton reading his own poetry.

In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems.

by Thomas Merton, edited with an introduction by Lynn Szabo.

Published by New Directions

George Kilcourse.

George A. Kilcourse is Professor of Theology at Bellarmine University and Director of the MA in Spirituality Program in conjunction with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is the author of Ace of Freedoms: Thomas Merton’s Christ and Flannery O’Connor’s Religious ImaginationA World With Everything Off Balance (2001). From 1993 until 2003 he served as co-editor of The Merton Annual.


Exodus 33:12-33;
I Thessalonians 1:1-10;
Matthew 22:15-22

One day, an 8 year-old was absent-mindedly walking home from school. He gazed at the little pencil in his hand. It was small, just 3 inches long. Thinking it was too small to use, he absent-mindedly threw the pencil away.

That evening, he told his grandfather that he needed a new pencil. “Why?” the old man asked, “you had a perfectly good one this morning.” “It was too small,” the boy argued. “Let me see it,” the grandfather asked.

The boy casually explained that he threw the pencil away. “You’ll have to find it,” the grandfather told him. So he handed the 8 year-old a flashlight, told him to retrace his steps, pay attention, and find the pencil. The boy retraced his path to school. He searched bushes and gutters. People thought he’d lost something valuable. When he told them it was a pencil, they laughed. Two hours later the boy found the 3 inch stub of a pencil and raced home to show his grandfather.

The old man was glad the boy had found it. He told his grandson, “Sit beside me and I will explain why I made you find it.” “Always remember that wasting anything is a bad habit,” he said. “Imagine if millions of people around the world threw away perfectly good pencils everyday. Hundreds of thousands of trees are chopped down every year for pencils. People work hard in pencil factories. To throw away a pencil is violence against nature. Today you threw away a pencil; tomorrow you will throw away something else that is still of use. Ask yourself, ‘Am I justified in throwing it away?’”

Grandfather explained the second lesson: “You need to learn that affluent people in affluent societies can afford to buy everything in large quantities. Since they have an abundance, they think they have the license to waste.” When we over-consume the world’s resources we steal from the poor. He pointed out how this imbalance gives rise to crime, violence, and prejudice. Then he gave the 8 year-old a new insight into human nature: “When people cannot get what they need through honest hard work, and when they see others having too much or wasting what is precious to the poor, they feel justified in taking it by force.” So the boy learned that the world can produce enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. The grandfather concluded,“Our greed and wasteful habits perpetuate poverty, which is violence against humanity.”

The boy in the story I just told you is a native of India. His name is Arun. I met him and worked with him for a week in June at an institute in Boston where we were both teaching this summer. His grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, awakened the world to the damage done by our “passive violence“–which is the root of all physical violence. It’s frighteningly easy to think that some generic communal confession of sins makes for reconciliation. Reconciliation is the “root canal” surgery of our spiritual life. We resist forgiveness with every nerve in our body. Revenge appears so much more satisfying. Some people even destroy themselves–and others–rather than take the initiative to be reconciled. It’s a form of pride–because we resist being vulnerable enough to admit our complicity in evil, our fault in the quarrel, the argument, the slight, or the sting of what went wrong between people. Revenge is fuelled by anger. And anger is like electricity: if you aren’t intelligent enough to harness and respect it, electricity can destroy; once you respect electricity, it has so many wonderful uses.

I know a person who has spent a second career in Hospice work. (Hospice people are the angels of our culture–I cannot say enough to praise them!) This person–I’ll call her Alice–tells about one middle-aged woman–I’ll call her Wanda–who was dying. Observing her rapid decline, Alice knew the end was near. Wanda had a rural background and was without many city friends. So she asked Wanda if there was any ‘unfinished business’ she had. After about ten minutes of stony silence she said, “Yes, it’s been 12 years since I’ve seen either of my children.” Alice went into action. She located the daughter, who was in the military; but never found Wanda’s son.

When the daughter entered the apartment a week later, she was hesitant and stiff. She and Alice talked for half an hour. Finally, Alice led the daughter to her Mother’s bedside. Both Wanda and the young woman looked at each other from across the bedroom. Neither made a move or spoke. Alice was confused. She waited five minutes, then said she was going to fix coffee for everyone–and left the room.

After a minute or so, the daughter looked at her mother and asked, “Why? How could you do it?” Her mind was fixed on events twelve years earlier. As a ten year-old girl she had returned home from school early one afternoon (complaining of a stomach ache) and seen her mother, Wanda, shoot and kill her stepmother. The police never thought to ask the ten year-old about the crime because she had run back to school and then came home at the regular time–paralyzed by fear.

In a matter of moments both Wanda and her daughter were in tears. Wanda reached out and said, “I’m so, so sorry!” and cradled her sobbing daughter in her arms. Alice walked in and saw the dying woman stroking her daughter’s red hair. That’s what reconciliation looks like–violence and alienation are emptied out, and a gentle hand rhythmically strokes the head of someone much beloved. I’ve no doubt that the father of the Prodigal Son stroked his unruly hair and caressed his head just like this Mother was doing for her daughter days before dying.

The law of revenge tells us, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” And suddenly all the world is toothless and blind. Violence answered with violence always spirals out of control and leads to worse violence. We have such a slow learning curve when it comes to this truth.

Our “passive violence” is the root of all physical violence. Our ignorance of the ways we are responsible for other people’s physical suffering, for their emotional and spiritual wounds–this is sin that clamors for healing in reconciliation.

Gandhi perhaps understood Jesus as well as any modern person. He found Jesus’ Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount to be the fullest expression of spiritual life. Someone asked him, “Then why don’t you become a Christian?” He answered, “I don’t find Christians living these beatitudes”–being meek, hungering and thirsting for justice, being clean of heart, being peacemakers. As soon as they do, said Gandhi, “I will be the first to be a Christian.”

Matthew’s gospel today turns to a conflict story between Jesus and the ruling religious parties. Jesus is approached by opponents who challenge him with a question about ‘political authority.’ He, in turn, poses a counter-question to compel his antagonists to declare first their own loyalties concerning divine authority.

Jesus asks: “Whose inscription and image is on this coin?” This text has been the long-standing object of misinterpretation by persons who would impose a “two-kingdom” theology upon it. The issue is not one of compatibility between the claims of “heavenly” and “human” authority, but ofconflict. The question of whether to pay taxes to Rome was indeed a “test.” As far as Jesus was concerned, the question is not his but theirs. So he forces them to “own up” to their collaboration. As a devout Jew, Jesus would not even carry a Roman coin. So he asks them to produce a coin. The image of Caesar on the coin would have settled the matter. Palestine minted its own coins used by Jews who resisted the Romans occupying their land. The inscription on Roman coins extolled Caesar as the “august and Divine Son”–a god! The rival authorities of God and Caesar could hardly be stated more sharply. This text does not exhort Jews to pay Roman taxes. Jesus escapes a trap by challenging his antagonists to reveal their own political allegiances.

Most of the pivotal episodes in the gospels are composed around questions to, by, or about Jesus. Jesus is not the sage who explains life’s mysteries but the great interrogator of public and private arrangements of privilege and power: “Can Satan exorcise Satan?”; “What will the owner of the vineyard do?”; Is a lamp brought indoors to be put under a basket?”; “Should wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” So skilful is Jesus at turning the questions around that the gospel declares, “no one dared anymore to press questions to him.”

Like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. practices Jesus’ ability to question and to expose false allegiances. Liberal clergy asked him to halt his 1963 civil rights campaign in Birmingham, to withdraw from demonstrations–calling them unwise and untimely. In his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” King wrote these lines:

I must make two honest confessions of faith to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderates. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to “justice,” who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice, who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with you methods of direct action,” who paternalistically believes that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.

As Dr. King stated, it is our responsibility to probe with our questions the discrepancy between rhetoric and reality, between stated values and practice. “Speaking truth to power” has never seemed so relevant or necessary as in our times.

–Who gives the United States (my country!) the right to “police” the globe?

–Why are more and more women and children living in poverty?

–With the United States facing such financial difficulties, why is spending on military personnel and weapons not cut severely?

–Why do so many of our churches simply mirror the dominant culture?

Now is the time to reclaim the early Church’s hallmark: “see how they love one another.” Love applies to our relationships with each other as “church,” and to our outreach to every other human person.

May God give us the greater courage to be both recipients and agents of the mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation that we wish to see in our world. So that we might gather one day together to feast at the great banquet of God’s Kingdom: Christians with one another, with Jews and the peoples of Islam–even with those whose way is the great religions of Asia.

George Kilcourse

The Catholic Virginian

August 14, 2006 | Volume 81, Number 21


‘Double belonging’ families affirmed at Virginia Beach

Group pictureBy Barbara Hughes
Special to The Catholic Virginian

Married couples from Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia were affirmed for their unity as a couple at the recent conference of the American Association of Interchurch Families held at Virginia Wesleyan College in Virginia Beach.

“As the smallest expression of church, your unity as a married couple images the unity for which the Church longs,” Dr. H. Richard McCord, Jr., executive director of the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told them at the opening session.

“The family is holy not because it is perfect, but when it recognizes God’s grace at work in it,” Dr. McCord said, speaking as both a husband and father. “Families celebrate the sacred within the ordinary and moments of God’s love shine through when we least expect it,” he added. He commended the couples for “Double Belonging,” a term which has been applied when both husband and wife are registered members in both their own denomination as well as that of their spouse.

For many this commitment means not only attending their spouse’s church, but being active participants in study groups and ministries. These couples regard their commitment to support one another as a sign of their union with Christ.

Encouraging members of the audience to share their views, Dr. McCord said they play a key role in shaping the message he would take back to the Catholic bishops. In response to Dr. McCord’s invitation, couples shared the strengths and challenges of being an interchurch couple as well as lessons that the bishops and the larger church could learn from their example and experience.

One woman referred to what she called “The Protestant Shuffle” describing how the non-Catholic member of the family had to shuffle to the end of the pew while other family members received Communion. Not being able to share Eucharist was high on the list of painful situations that interchurch couples encounter.

Another was the lack of support on the parish level for their situation and what seems to be a lack of sensitivity by the use of language that is often hurtful to persons of other faiths. “Even the term ‘non-Catholic’ implies that if you are not Catholic you don’t count,” said one person. Since 40 to 60 percent of marriages taking place in the Catholic Church are mixed marriages, couples felt the high number merited its own office within the USCCB.

On Saturday morning (July 22), Father George Kilcourse, Professor of Theology at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, reported on the meeting that took place October 11, 2005 between delegates from nine countries and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity (PCPCU) in Rome.

During the meeting Father Kilcourse was appointed Interchurch Families’ Liaison to the PCPCU and the delegation was charged by that body to educate bishops and priests regarding the use of the Ecumenical Directory of 1993.

Father Kilcourse explained that Roman Catholic Canon Law is pastoral by nature and takes into account and provides for exceptions. “Bringing the perspective of exception regarding Eucharist means that limited ‘Eucharistic sharing’ may, under certain conditions, be offered to baptized believers of other Christian denominations when there is a bona fide need,” the priest explained. He cited situations where children have chosen to refrain from receiving First Communion because one of the parents was denied Eucharist. “That constitutes a bona fide need,” said the priest.

Another example could be during the Sacrament of Matrimony when celebrated in the context of a Mass. Referring to the 1993 Directory on Ecumenism, Father Kilcourse said, “the Vatican’s 1993 Ecumenical Directory explicitly states that the question should be raised whether Eucharist may be offered to the Christian bride or groom who is not Catholic since the couple is united sacramentally in Marriage.”

Another outgrowth of the meeting was a theological working group headed by Dr. Thomas Knieps of the American College in Louvain, Belgium, himself a Catholic in an interchurch marriage.

The purpose of the project is to further explore (1) the reality of the “domestic church” within the context of interchurch families; (2) issues of authority that divide; (3) ethical issues such as medical experimentation, and (4) the definition of marriage. The goal is to have the rough draft completed by April of 2007. The draft would then be circulated internationally for feedback and presented at an international event in 2008.

Father Kilcourse summed up his hope for interchurch families: “These couples and their children bring unique gifts to the church. As Pope Benedict XVI said recently in Poland, they are living ‘laboratories of ecumenism.’ “The U.S. Bishops are currently drafting a Pastoral Letter on Marriage. Interchurch families deserve similar affirmation and support in this important Pastoral Letter.”

Copyright © 2006 The Catholic Virginian Press.

This article is displayed on the AAIF Web site with permission of The Catholic Virginian.

AAIF 2012 Biennial Conference ~ Tentative Agenda

AAIF 2012 Biennial Conference

Tentative Agenda

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shuttle Service from the Minneapolis  – Saint Paul Airport to Collegeville,MN is available. Please phone Executive Express at 320-253-2226 to make arrangements.

Also Executive Express will allow guests to make reservations on line.

Anticipated driving time from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport to Collegeville is 1 hour 40 minutes on I- 94 West out of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul  area

Saint John’s University  31802 County Road 159  Collegeville, Minnesota 56321

(320) 363-2011

Sign in and receive room keys along with room assignments for pre-registered AAIF Conference Attenders at Saint Mary’s Hall SJU on the Upper Campus; housing will be at the Vincent Court Apartments on the Lower Campus Hours for Saint Mary’s Hall are 8 AM to 8 PM

Friday July 13, 2012

Optional Tours:

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM     Saint John’s Liturgical Press Tour

4 PM – 5 PM              Tour of Campus to see Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places

5 PM – 7 PM dinner (Opening of the 2012 AAIF Biennial Conference)

7:30 PM “Living with Limits and a Sense of Humor:   A Lutheran View of Intra- Christian Relations.”  Speaker: Dr. Darrell Jodock;  Drell and Adeline Bernhardson Distinguished Professor of Religion Gustavus Adolphus College Faith & Learning Resources: Speeches by Darrell Jodock can be found at this link: 

8:30 PM  Social Time/Reception

Saturday, July 14, 2012 

7 AM  Morning Prayer

7 AM – 8:30  AM breakfast

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.  “Ecumenism in a World of Change.” Speaker: Dr. Donald 

Ottenhoff,  Executive Director,  Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research Collegeville, Minnesota

The Institute is an autonomous part of the Saint John’s community, which includes Saint John’s Abbey and University, the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library and the Liturgical Press. The women’s community of Saint Benedict’s Monastery and the College of Saint Benedict in nearby St. Joseph further expand the resources for residents of the Institute.

10 – 11 AM Business Meeting

11 AM – 1 PM Lunch

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM: Hill Museum and Manuscript Collection: Tour

HMML is also the home of “The Saint John’s Bible,” the first handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned in the west for 500 years. The Bible is being created by a team of scribes and artists in the United Kingdom and the United States, and uniquely blends ancient methods and materials with modern images and text.

Selected pages from The Saint John’s Bible are always on exhibition in the HMML Gallery.

3 PM – 4 PM: Pottery Tour

5 PM – 7 PM Dinner

7:00 p.m. Vigil of Sunday

Protestant Worship Opportunities as a group- tentative arrangements are in the process of being made

7:30 PM

“How Interchurch Family Prayer ‘Happens’: Models for Negotiating Our Differences”

Speaker:  Daniel J. Olsen, Ph.D.

Dr. Olsen received his Ph.D. in Constructive Theology from Loyola University Chicago in 2008.  Since that time he has taught at several Catholic Liberal Arts Universities in both Minnesota and Illinois.  He currently resides in suburban Chicago with his wife, Tracy, and two children Abigail and Matthew.

9:30 PM Social Gathering Time 

Sunday July 15, 2012

7 AM Morning Prayer

7 AM – 8:30 AM Breakfast

10:30 a.m. Mass at the Saint John’s Abbey Church

11 AM – 1 PM     Lunch and formal closing of the 2012 AAIF Biennial Conference, immediately after lunch