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UNITED IN BAPTISM AND MARRIAGE

 

Natalie and Andrew Cook

Natalie & Andrew  (their names have been changed to respect sensitivities within their local and family situations) have been living an interchurch life for over 10 years. Andrew is baptized Lutheran (Evangelical) and Natalie is baptized Roman Catholic. Throughout their marriage they have maintained separate memberships in both churches. They share both Christian traditions with their children.

They believe that it is their faith in Christ that brought them together. They feel strongly about working towards Christian unity. They hoped one day to form a support group for other interchurch couples where they could socialize and share their story. In September 2000, their dream was realized when they became the lead couple of an Interchurch Families group. The support and fellowship the group provides has enriched their lives tremendously.

Introduction:

(NATALIE)

Good Morning. It is an honor to be here today. Andrew and I have been married for over ten years. We have three children. We are honored to be given the challenging opportunity of presenting our story, in the theme: United in Baptism and Marriage, at this conference.

Over the years, Andrew and I have experienced triumphs and struggles in sharing two Christian traditions. We are a little apprehensive in sharing our story because, at times, it is difficult to talk about our interchurch relationship with each other and with other people. This past year, after meeting with various advisors from different ecumenical offices in our city, and a number of other interchurch couples, we started an interchurch families group. Being a part of this local, national and international network has helped us to realize that we are not alone. In sharing our story with our group, we have become more comfortable with our decision to live as an interchurch couple.

Speaking to you today, is another step in our faith journey. We hope to replace the resentment, anger and loneliness we have experienced with understanding and hope for the future. We also hope that others can learn from our experience.

And so we begin our story…

Andrew - Childhood to Young Adulthood:

(ANDREW)

I was born premature and was baptized Evangelical Lutheran, within a few days of being born, because there was some concern that I was not going to make it. I was the fourth of five children. We were raised in the city.

My mom was baptized and confirmed Lutheran. Her family attended church on a regular basis. My dad was baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic. He came from a large family that attended church when possible. When my parents decided to get married, my dad turned Lutheran. This of course, did not go over well with my some of my dad’s family or the Catholic community. From what I’ve been told, the town was divided over attending the wedding and the priest discouraged parishioners and family members from attending the ceremony. I am not sure how the Lutheran community felt, but I imagine some of them were upset as well. This situation caused many years of hardship for my parents. Today they feel victimized and angry at the way they have been treated.

As a youth I remember witnessing my parents frustration and hurt over the way they were being treated by my dad’s family. I was confused as to why there was so much animosity between two churches that shared the same faith in Christ.

My family tried to attend church each Sunday. My childhood memories begin with Sunday mornings. My dad would play hymns on his mouth organ while mom would get us ready for Sunday school. Sunday school took place prior to the church service. We learned the commandments, the life of Jesus and the Lord’s prayer. Everyone would dress up in his or her best clothes. There was a strong sense of community in our church. There was usually lot of talking prior to and at the end of each service, and it usually continued into the parking lot.

I have fond memories of attending vacation bible school during the summer. We learned about the teachings of Jesus, and participated in games and crafts. It was exciting to take part in the closing program for our proud parents on the last day. This program usually involved singing, a short skit and readings.

When I was thirteen, the intern pastor at my church asked me to play guitar with him for the Sunday school children. After a couple of years playing with him, I learned enough chords and I was able to lead the group on my own. I am grateful to the pastor for giving me a chance to play guitar. This is where I learned not to be shy of playing guitar in front of people.

I started confirmation instruction at the age of thirteen and was confirmed at the age of fifteen. I remember receiving communion for the first time on Confirmation Day. Mom and dad invited relatives and friends to the house for a celebration. I received many gifts. I was involved with the youth group and attended international youth conferences held in Vancouver and Guelph. My friend and I wrote songs about our Christian faith. One of my fondest memories, was playing one of the songs we had written for a thousand young people at the Guelph conference.

Other memories of my teenage years were of bible camp. I attended camp as a camper and then later, as a counselor. I made a lot of friends there, some of which I run into every now and then. The camp is under water now, due to a dam that was built, but my memories are still alive.

Throughout my youth, I continued to be an involved member in my church. I served on council for a three-year term, and was a member of the choir.

After high school, I continued to participate in the Lutheran church through music and church council. I learned the business side of the church through church council and I was part of a team who called, interviewed and recommended a new minister, who would later take part in our wedding.

One summer, as a young adult, I decided to attend different churches in our neighborhood. I was curious to see how others worshipped Christ. I wonder if Christ was preparing me for the interchurch relationship that I was going to be involved in some years later.

Natalie - Childhood to Young Adulthood:

(NATALIE)

I was born into a large, loving Roman Catholic family. We lived in a small town. I have a close relationship with my parents, and my ten siblings.

I have learned many things from my parents about marriage and being a parent. My mom and dad have been married over 55 years. They have given unconditional love and acceptance to anyone who has become a part of our family. My mom is very patient and caring towards her children and grandchildren, and my dad has always worked very hard to provide for us and has held the highest respect for my mom.

My dad is baptized Roman Catholic. His family attended church regularly. He has a picture of Mary and Jesus which belonged to his mother. He keeps it on his desk, and it is very special to him. My mom is baptized Roman Catholic, also. Her mother was baptized Lutheran. From what I know, they did not attend church regularly. When my parents were married, my mom became an active member of the Roman Catholic community. My siblings and I are all baptized into this tradition.

My family went to church every Sunday, and celebrated the important holidays (Christmas and Easter) with lots of people around. It was important that we dressed our best for church and we were expected to be on our best behavior. We knew church was a very sacred place.

I attended Catechism classes after church and after school. It was a fun time for learning and being with friends. I received the sacraments of First Communion, at age 7, First Reconciliation, at age 9 and Confirmation, at age 13. My family did not have special celebrations during these times, but I knew they were special events in my life. My mom would always sew me something new to wear, and sometimes I got a commemorative gift from family or relatives.

I was given my first rosary shortly before I received the Eucharist for the first time. We were taught how to pray the rosary at home. Over the years, it has become an important part of my prayer life.

I don’t recall my family discussing Church related issues very often. I think my parents believed it was by seeing their example, we would learn the importance of our faith. I always felt that if I asked questions I was challenging my parents and the Church, instead of trying to educate myself about my faith. I know my parents meant well and I’m not here to criticize them. I feel they raised us this way because it was how they knew best.

Throughout my life there have been numerous times when my experiences have involved the idea of interchurch families. I call these experiences a "spiritual flash-forward". I believe that the Spirit was already moving me before I ever realized. I know these situations contribute to who I am today and I want to share them with you.

One of these experiences occurred when I had a conversation with my mom at a time when a relative was preparing to marry a non-Catholic. I think I was about ten years old at the time. I remember asking my mom what a Catholic person should do if their partner is not Catholic. My mom explained that the Catholic person would have to wait until their partner agreed to turn Catholic. I persisted by asking her what would happen if the partner refused to turn Catholic. She basically repeated what she had told me the first time. I let the topic go, but I still had questions.

When I was twelve, my family moved to a new town. I was approaching my teen years and this was a difficult time for me. Emotionally, I had a hard time adjusting to a new school. Fortunately, my faith in God brought me through this tough time. My faith and my involvement in the church became very important to me. I became very involved with the local Catholic Youth Organization and developed a close relationship with the priest and a young nun from our parish. I valued going to church and I looked forward to going each Sunday.

As a teenager, I attended SEARCH, a special retreat for young Catholics. It was a very powerful experience and my relationship deepened with God. In the public school I attended, there were few teenagers who took an active role in church and church activities. I knew I was almost an "outsider" because of this but, I remained confident and strong in my beliefs. I recall two more "spiritual flash forward" situations that happened during my teen years. They involve the local Lutheran Church and a discussion with a relative.

The local Lutheran church had a vibrant youth group with a young couple as their leader. A few Catholic teens chose to attend this group instead of ours. We would hear about the success of their group and how they, unlike us, encouraged any denomination to join. It was just a matter of time before the group began to peak my interest. I asked my parents if I could also join this youth group. They gently discouraged me, explaining that Lutherans believe differently than we do. I accepted their explanation, but I did feel confused. I was starting to see a barrier between the Catholic Church and other churches.

The situation with my relative revolved around a discussion she told me about that occurred between her and friend. During their discussion about religion, the non-Catholic friend asked her if she was a "Christian". She told me that she answered, "I am a Catholic". When I questioned her about her answer, she expressed to me how important she felt it was to emphasize that she was a "Catholic". Something about her answer did not sit right with me. I must have considered myself part of a bigger spiritual family. Since I could not put it into words, I did not pursue the matter with her.

After my Grade twelve graduation, I moved to the city to attend a technical school. I had a tough time adjusting to being away from home. Once again, I relied on my faith to carry me through. I attended church regularly by myself. During the first few months, I met many new people and I went on dates. I hoped to find someone who shared the same moral values and attended church regularly. I used to pray a special prayer each night from a prayer book written by missionaries. It read:

"Jesus, I know that I’m never truly alone in this world; I know that God is always near and that there are always people around me. Still, Lord sometimes I feel very lonely. Please send me a special friend, someone who I can confide in and trust, someone who will trust me and be willing to share with me.

I’d like to have this gift of friendship, Jesus, so that I will be happier, but mostly so that I can make someone else happy too. Friendships are special, Lord, they make the people involved grow and grow closer to you. Send me a friend, Lord and I’m sure I’ll be a better friend to you. Send me a friend, Lord, so I can learn to love everyone more. Come to me in a friend, Lord so I won’t feel alone anymore. Amen."

I believe God sent me many friends because of this prayer, but only one friend truly matched what I had been praying for. Andrew and I met within the first six months that I was in the city.

When We Met:

(ANDREW)

We met at a friend’s Christmas party. That first meeting between Natalie and I was the start of a friendship that would take us to coffee shops, and on long walks, sharing our faith in Christ with each other. We became very good friends. We learned a lot about each other. We knew that we were both strong in our different traditions, but it was not an obstacle in our relationship at this time. The first discussions around our faith were more an investigation of the differences. The more we shared the stronger our friendship became.

(NATALIE)

A few months after we met, Andrew asked if I would like to start dating. I was afraid that we would lose our close friendship and decided that it was best to remain just friends. Our friendship continued. For a period of time, we went our separate ways and we dated other people. I would think of Andrew often, and sometimes we would run into each other.

Our friendship was unlike any other relationship I had ever had before. I could confide in him on so many levels. I was drawn to him because he had moral values; he was dedicated to those he cared for; he was compassionate and honest; he knew a lot about the Bible; and he was dedicated to living a life filled with Christ. (I must also admit that sometimes he knew more about the Catholic faith than I did.)

After some time had passed, I began to realize that the values I was looking for were not being found in the men I was dating, even though most of them were Catholic. I felt that God was calling me to be with Andrew. The only thing that I was concerned about were the differences in our religious upbringing. Before I could consider pursuing a relationship with Andrew, I had to find out what my family and friends thought about marrying a non-Catholic.

My family had varying ideas about marrying a non-Catholic. Some of them felt that the non-Catholic would have to convert. One family member suggested taking RCIA, a Catholic adult education program. This family member believed that after taking the program a non-Catholic would choose to turn Catholic. Another family member shared that they felt Protestants are more like aunts and uncles in relation to Catholics and not brothers and sisters. I found their views unsettling. I knew that I did not want to pressure someone like Andrew to convert and I did not consider myself a better Christian than him because I was Catholic.

Most of my friends were not involved in a church of any kind. They would listen to my concerns. Some of them could not see why a relationship with two traditions, would cause any problems and the others could not understand why church, was such an issue of importance.

Even though I found little support for an interchurch relationship, I felt compelled to give it a try. I believed that the only way to deal with our situation was to face the challenges that came along. I knew I wanted to spend more time with Andrew.

A few years had passed. Fortunately, with God’s help, we met again.

Our Dating Years:

(ANDREW)

Three years would go by before Natalie and I would cross paths again. We had both ended our previous relationships around the same time. Our friendship had remained strong and we had grown very much in love. We started dating.

Our discussions surrounding the differences between our churches continued. I remember lengthy talks that would take us late into the night. It was apparent that we were both "digging in our heels" and that neither of us was going to consider leaving our church to join the other. (I cannot remember if I wanted Natalie to turn Lutheran during this time.) As we talked about and considered the possibility of marriage, I wondered how we could keep our own faith yet worship together. I recalled a pastor’s message, " The family that worships together, stays together." I also remember the same pastor mentioning that you should not marry a non-Lutheran.

(NATALIE)

Many of our discussions were about: the Pope, reconciliation, purgatory, the saints, and intercommunion. We also struggled with the way in which we would provide religious education to our children. At times I felt under-educated because I could not answer Andrew’s questions. I would get very frustrated and defensive. Sometimes I felt angry because I couldn’t understand why he was questioning my church. While growing up I had just accepted the ways of my church, even though I didn’t totally understand and/or agree with the churches teachings.

I decided to try and deepen my knowledge of the Catholic Church. I read books, articles and pamphlets about the issues we had discussed and I talked to a few priests. I was frustrated and discouraged to find that there were few resources for interchurch couples.

Some of the literature I read was hard to understand. It seemed to be based on man-made rules. I just wanted to follow Jesus’s teachings. I didn’t think that would be so hard to do as an interchurch couple. I was discouraged by what I read. It was evident to me, why few couples choose to live with two traditions.

The priests I talked with seemed reluctant to give me any suggestions for raising children with two traditions. Sometimes they would insist that the non-Catholic partner allow the Catholic partner to assume the responsibility for the children’s religious education, or they would encourage the non-Catholic partner to convert. I became apprehensive about talking to priests. I respected their position in the church and their responsibility in following the rules set out before them. I felt that I was putting them in a awkward situation. I was also concerned that I may set myself up for a confrontation that could involve excluding me from the church. I didn’t want to cause problems. My hope was to find a solution to the difficulties Andrew and I were facing.

(ANDREW)

Time passed, we became closer friends and our discussions intensified. Most discussions became very emotional and numerous times we would end in tears. We believed that we were meant to be together, but we were afraid that the doctrine of our churches had a potential of keeping us apart.

Throughout this difficult time, Natalie and I continued to attend church together when possible. We went to the Catholic church Saturday evenings and the Lutheran church on Sunday mornings. We hoped and prayed that God would help us.

We found many similarities in the way our churches worshipped. The music was similar and sometimes the readings, prayers and responses were the same. We were encouraged to see the similarities, but frustrated to find that the similarities could not rise above the differences. It was apparent to us that the differences were political not spiritual.

At one point, we thought the solution would be for us to join a new denomination, leaving all of the politics behind. After careful consideration, we realized that our separate traditions shaped the kind of person we had become. We feared that if we joined another denomination, we would lose a part of ourselves. We knew we loved each other for who we were.

There were times when I felt our relationship would end because we could not find a way to compromise and I feared I would be forced to distance myself from the Lutheran Church. I felt pressured by my family to marry and remain within the Lutheran church. I know how my parents felt when two older siblings married Catholics. I remember becoming so frustrated with the predicament Natalie and I were in, that I gave her an ultimatum. I asked her to either agree to raise our children Lutheran or I would end our relationship. It hurt me to do this. She reluctantly agreed to raise our children Lutheran.

The time we spent searching, proved to be a turning point in our relationship. We managed to stay together during this difficult time and our love remained strong. We still believed that it was in God’s plan for us to spend our lives together, even though there were many difficult decisions to make. We made a decision to maintain our separate traditions, and continue attending both churches. We decided the next step was to develop a better understanding of each other’s beliefs. We continued on our journey.

(NATALIE)

In an attempt to learn more about the Catholic faith, we decided to attend R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). For those of you who do not know what R.C.I.A is about, I will explain from my understanding. The class is intended for married or engaged couples. Although in most situations the couples attending, are planning to have one partner convert to Catholicism, it is not only offered for this reason. We were hoping it would answer some of our questions and help us work through some issues.

While attending R.C.I.A, we met many new people. The priest leading the group seemed very supportive regarding our relationship. He expressed that if each tradition took the special things they had to offer and put them together, what a wonderful church we would have. It was refreshing to hear a priest say this.

The class was very informative. Some of our questions had been answered, but there were still issues like intercommunion and the religious education of children that remained unanswered. Andrew and I weren’t sure we would ever find a solution. We were frustrated because of this, but were determined to continue with our relationship because of our love for each other. We hoped that over time, things would change between the churches and God would guide and help us.

Our Engagement and Wedding:

(ANDREW)

Three years after we had started dating, on February 14th, I asked Natalie to marry me and her reply was a definite "YES". I remember her crying (tears of joy, I hoped). We went to tell my parents, and although they seemed happy, I could tell that they were not bubbling over with excitement. I knew what they were thinking. I knew inside they were not happy about the fact that Natalie was Catholic.

We participated in marriage preparation classes at both churches. These classes mainly focused on our compatibility as individuals. Interchurch relationships were not discussed.

(NATALIE)

Sometimes couples are fussing over flowers, dresses, cakes, etc during the engagement. Andrew and I found ourselves more concerned about: what church we would be married in; who would officiate; whether or not we would have communion; and how we were going to raise our children.

During a private meeting with the priest, to set our wedding date, I was asked what our plans were for the religious education of our children. I explained to the priest how we wanted to share both traditions with our children. I felt obligated to provide the priest with an explanation that would justify my decision. I told him, again, about the hardship that Andrew’s family endured, how much it affected Andrew and how I did not feel comfortable pressuring him or his family to deal with another Catholic situation. The priest seemed to understand our situation. That was the end of our discussion. A few weeks before the wedding, when the priest met my parents for the first time, he asked me again what we planned to do with children. I was surprised to hear him ask again, and felt awkward with my parents nearby.

I remembered the agreement I had made with Andrew in raising the children Lutheran, but in my heart I was not comfortable with this decision. I felt guilty and I struggled inside. I knew that if I pressured Andrew about raising our children Catholic, it would strain our relationship. I did not feel I had a good reason to go against Andrew’s request.

All I could tell the priest was that we both knew what each other wanted and that we would try to do what was best for our children. I did not speak about our agreement. I hoped that, in time, Andrew and I could find an answer, and Andrew would feel comfortable sharing both traditions with our children. The priest did not ask anymore.

(ANDREW)

We arranged to be married in the Catholic church that we attended on Saturday nights and we asked permission from the priest to have an interchurch wedding. He agreed to have the Lutheran pastor take part in the service and give the homily. We knew that we could not have communion, even though we would have liked to commune together on our wedding day.

There wasn’t any guidelines for planning an interchurch wedding. Natalie and I wanted our ceremony to be beautiful. We wanted to include all the things that were important to us. The priest was very accommodating. The Lutheran pastor suggested some vows that were different from the traditional vows, and we were able to use them. We wanted to have lots of music. Some people would anticipate a short ceremony, but we hoped it would last an hour. The ceremony was very important to us because it was the beginning of our interchurch life together.

In June of the same year, we exchanged our wedding vows before friends and family. It was a very happy day for both of us. We knew we had struggles ahead of us, but we intended to embrace them and journey together in faith.

The First Years of Marriage:

(NATALIE)

After we were married, we decided to attend a course in order to learn more about the Lutheran Church. It was very informative. We learned of more similarities between our traditions. I felt pressure to join the Lutheran Church from the pastor’s facilitating the course. Andrew and I knew that was not my intention, and we explained this to the them. I’m not sure they agreed with our interchurch relationship.

Intercommunion:

It has always been important to Andrew that we receive communion in each church, as a sign of support for one another. I struggled with the idea of intercommunion. I felt that if you take communion in another church, you are showing others that you agree with everything that church represents. I knew this was not true for Andrew and I, because we had opposing views about the doctrines of each church. At the time, I felt I was showing my support for Andrew by allowing him to remain Lutheran, and attending church with him. I chose not to receive communion in his church.

After some time had passed, and after an experience at Andrew’s grandmother’s funeral, I had a change of heart. The priest leading the funeral mass made an exception and allowed non-Catholic family members to receive communion. It was the first time I had seen Andrew receive communion in a Catholic Church. As I watched him, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of happiness. I felt more connected to him. The feelings I had took me by surprise. I realized that being able to commune together was meaningful for us, as a couple. From this point on, I decided to receive communion in the Lutheran Church, as a sign of oneness with Andrew.

I feel that my decision is the right choice, but I must admit that I still have feelings of guilt. I wonder how I will be judged. I don’t completely understand the Catholic Church’s view regarding intercommunion. I have done some research, but I get frustrated because it is hard to understand. I believe that what matters most is that Andrew and I are celebrating the Eucharist together, as believers of Christ, regardless of denomination.

(ANDREW)

For the past few years, I have received communion in both churches. You may wonder how is this possible in the Catholic Church when I am not a confirmed Catholic? I know that if I was to seek permission through the bishop that the answer back would be "no". I came about my decision by seeking approval from the local priest. Natalie and I invited him to our house one night and we talked about communion. He was not your traditional priest. He understood our situation and he understood that my belief in Christ was the same as his. He gave me permission to attend communion. I understand that what he did for me was special, and this is not the belief of the Catholic Church at large. Sadly, he died a few years ago. He was a very special man and priest. I will never forget him and what he did for me. He lifted a heavy stone off my back by allowing me to commune at the Lords table.

Today I commune knowing that he is watching and supporting me. I have not approached the current parish priest seeking his permission. I am somewhat afraid that he will not see me in the same light and refuse communion privileges to me. I feel that in my heart I am doing nothing wrong and it is for this reason that I am continuing to commune in the Catholic Church.

Where we are now:

(NATALIE)

Over the years, Andrew and I have created a "comfort zone" around the way we deal with the difference in our traditions. We have settled into this "comfort zone" to protect us from facing the differences, and to prevent us from having difficult discussions with family, clergy, friends and other Christians. It is sometimes difficult to talk about our interchurch relationship or re-live past experiences. It is easier to sit quiet and keep our story to ourselves instead if stirring up controversy or initiating a confrontation. It is also difficult for Andrew and I to discuss, between ourselves, the issues that don’t have black and white answers. We sometimes hesitate to bring up issues with each other because we do not want it to upset the life we have created as an interchurch family.

After our first child was born we changed our initial agreement, and decided that I would take the responsibility of teaching the religious education to our children. I knew that I would have more time to work with our children in completing the home instruction. They have been baptized in the Lutheran Church, and take instruction from the Catholic Church for First Communion and Reconciliation. We have not made a decision regarding Confirmation.

We alternate Sundays between churches. We try to maintain a balance as an interchurch family by allowing them to take part in both churches. They attend Sunday School at the Lutheran Church and Children’s Liturgy at the Catholic Church. We allow them to receive communion in the Lutheran Church, also.

We choose not to discuss the difficulties we have experienced with our children. We hope that by educating them about the differences between the churches, we will discourage them from having animosity towards other Christian traditions. We try to emphasize that it is their belief in Christ that matters most.

At times, we have experienced pressure from our families which has influenced us in our decisions regarding our children. We realize as each year passes, that it is our responsibility to make the choices for our children. We have become stronger in facing these challenges.

The Most Difficult Times:

The most difficult times for me, since Andrew and I have been married, have been dealing with the feelings of abandonment by my family, and Andrew’s family, regarding our interchurch relationship. The lack of support for our interchurch relationship from the Catholic and Lutheran churches has also left me with mixed emotions.

My parents accepted Andrew into the family from the moment he met them, but I don’t feel they accept our interchurch relationship. Some members of my family have very decisive views regarding an interchurch family. I sense at times they would rather avoid the topic. A few of them commend what Andrew and I have chosen to do in our marriage. I wish I had more support from them because it is important be able to count on family when you are going through struggles in life.

Andrew’s family is reserved about our relationship. I choose not to talk about anything that has to do with the Catholic Church when I am around them. I sense their resentment toward the Catholic Church, and I feel helpless because I cannot change their point of view or make up for the damage that has been caused.

The lack of support I feel I have received from the Catholic Church, in general, and some priests has left me feeling very angry. I have been frustrated with the negative interactions I have had with some Lutheran pastors. There are times when I sit in church with tears in my eyes at the thought of our struggle. I don’t understand why what we are striving for should cause such pain. There are so many couples who choose to remain one tradition and yet, they don’t attend church regularly. Andrew and I have a hard time understanding why two people who choose to attend church regularly and share two traditions should experience such hardship. In times of real struggle, we ask ourselves, "How can something so good be so wrong?".

Looking Forward:

Over the past year, we have re-connected with the priest who facilitated the R.C.I.A. classes we attended, and who joined us in marriage. We had moved to a different Catholic Church after we were married and had not seen him for sometime. Perhaps, having him involved in the initial part of our journey and our wedding, was another "spiritual flash forward". He is now very involved in our interchurch group. We have shared with him about our life thus far. I expected that it would be a difficult thing to do, but in reality it was not.

(ANDREW)

Today, we are excited about the journey ahead of us. Natalie and I intend to embrace our interchurch life, even with it’s difficulties. We were surprised to find how easily we could communicate what we wanted to include in this presentation. It is encouraging to see how much we have grown, individually, and as a couple. The challenge of writing this presentation has motivated us to continue working for interchurch families.

Our hope and dream is that one day all Christian churches will forgive each other, and the hurt they brought upon each other. We hope to be able to worship and commune together, recognizing the similarities and differences. There have been agreements signed and apologies given over the past few years that indicate to us that dialogue is continuing. We are encouraged by this dialogue, and pray that some day our hopes will be realized.

Thank you for taking time to listen to our story. May God Bless you.