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A family of love

Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director of Faith, Worship and Ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada, expressed her gratitude for being present at the conference.

I was moved to hear your stories. I heard not so much pain – although that’s a part of them – as perseverance and creativity and hope. I was asked why an ecumenical staff person would choose to come to be with this particular group. I replied: ‘Because you’re the ecumenical movement’. I got the response: ‘But we didn’t choose to be!’

No, when you chose each other you weren’t choosing to take on the overwhelming task of healing the body of Christ, wounded over countless generations. Yet any marriage brings together separated families, and yours have just been really big separated families. But you did more than choose each other. You have chosen, day by day, to honour each other, to be faithful to your tradition and to that of your partner. You have chosen to create a new reality, a family of love that demonstrates to the churches not only the scandal of our divisions, but the absurdity of them. You have chosen to let your love move mountains – to find ways through, beside, under, over and between the barriers thrown up by centuries of fear and mistrust and mutual condemnation. So God bless you, and your children, and your children’s children who may, God willing, inherit the one church you have helped to create.