The Interchurch Families International Network Theological Working Group: Study on Interchurch Families as Domestic Churches

Page 18 of The ARK, a Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families; July, August and September 2013: Volume 24; Edition 3 

IMG_9992 Daffodil and shadow

The Interchurch Families International Network  Theological Working Group:                                             Study on Interchurch Families as Domestic Churches 

In the autumn of 2005, members of the Interchurch Families International Network (IFIN) had an opportunity to meet with several staff of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU). In the course of that meeting, it was suggested that we interchurch families help the Church explore the concept of the term “domestic church” as raised in the Second Council of the Vatican.

As early as 2007, the IFIN Theological Working Group had considered and then responses that were shared for the following questions in regard to Interchurch Families and Interchurch Marriages:                                                                

–   How do you as an interchurch family experience unity in your marriage and family life?

 –  How does this affect your understanding of the church(es)?  

                                                 

Ruth Reardon has compiled the responses to these questions proposed by Thomas Knieps; they can be found at the following link:                   http://interchurchfamilies.org/dc/IFIN-TWGReportonAIFGroupsSpring2007.html   

Some of the points that were made  in this report include:                                                                   We are like other Christian families.                        

      • We have a strong sense that it is God who has brought us together.      
      • We love one another.                                             
      • We experience our unity through our diversity. 
      • Where our relationship with God is concerned, because this is so central to our lives, many of us find that it is very important to pray and read the Bible  together.

In this way we experience our unity in our home with an intensity that might have been lacking if we were one-church couples.                                                                 

We belong together and we live a unity in spite of experiencing rejection at times or  when  we are considered as being “non-…..” or “other.” We share our faith in Christ with our children and strive to live in our home that one Church of Christ that is both deeper than, and transcends, our divisions.  

Because we have had to overcome our prejudice and ignorance about our partner’s church, we have developed a more respectful and inclusive attitude to others.  Many families have become involved in some kind of ecumenical work.  Because we have crossed boundaries in our marriages, we are more willing to cross other boundaries.  For one family it is work with refugees and asylum-seekers, for another with world development, for another inter-faith relations.  Because our marriages have caused us to go deeper into our faith, for some it is work in the field of spirituality. 

It seems to us that the churches need to relate to one another in the way that married couples do, if they really want to grow into unity.

At this link, http://interchurchfamilies.org/dc/IFIN-TWGReportonAIFGroupsSpring2007.html       you will find coming from them suggestions for the ways that Interchurch Couples as Domestic Churches/Little Churches of the Home can and do serve as role models for Christian unity further suggestions for the churches.

The compilation is well crafted and well worth reading by everyone who is endeavoring to find Christian Unity or to become reconciled with others.  Interchurch Families from around the world have all contributed to this study of the Domestic Church as it exists in our homes and the benefits we have uncovered through this lived experience.

IMG_8801 carved ivory cross, The Cloisters, Aug 2011

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