'We don't do unity ..'
Kathy Pope writes:
This is perhaps a title which needs a little explanation. For more than 30 years my husband, Malcolm, and I have been celebrating and growing our interchurch marriage. Malcolm is a priest in the Church of England and I am Roman Catholic, so unity is not something that we do, rather it is a way of life. It is a calling that we try to live every single day and infuses every aspect of our family life.
It is often easy for us, and our churches, to compartmentalise very genuine work for Christian unity into particular events or specific projects which have beginnings and endings. The danger is that during the periods in between it is easy to revert to the way we have always done things. In an interchurch marriage, however, where each partner is faithful to their own tradition while also becoming part of another, there are no gaps, no in-between phases.
For us this gift of two traditions has been a great blessing – we have been constantly enriched by each other, often surprised and sometimes challenged. Raising our son to belong equally in both church families has been a great joy, for us as well as him, as his faith experience has been enhanced and deepened as a result. There have of course been painful moments: in particular our son’s First Communion when Malcolm was not going to be allowed to receive communion. Happily we were welcomed as a family at another church for which we were immensely thankful, and the Roman Catholic Church also recognizes that there can be appropriate times for sharing communion. We have experienced some other very special moments together over the years.
Since before we were married, we have been members of the Association of Interchurch Families (AIF), a body in association of Churches Together in England. AIF has been a constant source of comfort, support and information as couples and families share experiences and hopes, linking to both national and international initiatives and possibilities. We know that we are not alone but part of a global network of other people who strive to live Christian unity in their homes and relationships, without a model or blueprint as each couple and family finds their own path and equilibrium.
I also feel deeply honoured and humbled to be able to live unity in my working life too. I am a manager of the SACREdplace Bookshop in Cornwall. Standing for: St Austell Christian Resources and Education our vision is ‘Practically Promoting Christian Unity’. Day by day a team of volunteers from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist churches, and House Fellowships, welcomes customers and those needing prayer or seeking pastoral support. During every day that we work with each other we share ideas and traditions, prayer and care, learning and growing together – such a delight and gift.
So for 2018 we pray that we may all continue to spread the good news that living Christian unity is a privilege, a joy and a very great blessing - not so much what you do, but as a way of life.
Inter Church Families
SACREdplace, St Austell
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