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Association of InterChurch Families

New Zealand

We, as far as I know, are the only Interchurch group in New Zealand. There used to be one in Auckland, but no more. We consist of nine couples at present. It seems to be a pattern that if you join our group you will be transferred out of Wellington within six months! So we have a dynamic membership. I am the co-ordinator of the group even though I am not in an Interchurch marriage. I am the Advisor on Family Ministry for our Catholic Archdiocese and so began this group in order to listen to the needs of Interchurch families to see where the Church may respond.

We meet about five times a year, usually for lunch and discussion. We have begun attending, as a group, the church service of each denomination in our group. We have been very warmly received at each church and had our 'mission' highlighted in these services. Afterwards we have enjoyed lunch and discussion on the service we attended - along with the minister involved.

Over the last 18 months – 2 years, we have been working on a discussion document about our thoughts and experiences of being Interchurch families. This document discusses dual belonging and looks at ways in which each family has felt welcomed and/or left out of the churches they belong to. It ends with some simple suggestions for the future.

Attached to this document is each couple's personal story of their journey. I believe it is a very powerful document and useful tool for discussion with our churches. It is at present sitting with our Catholic hierarchy and we are waiting for a reaction to know what we will do next. Ideally we will be invited to begin discussions with our clergy about ways in which we can be more supportive of non-catholic spouses, including those who have no religious affiliation. Then the document may, in some form, be given to the other churches represented in our group.

I am unable to pass this document on to you at this stage, because we do not yet know how it is being received.

We do struggle sometimes in knowing what to do at our meetings. If anyone has devised a process that is challenging and able to keep us moving forward, we would love to hear about it.

So that is us! We wish you all the very best for your conference. We are sure it will be a great success. Please be assured of our prayers and support.

Sue Devereux
on behalf of the
Interchurch Families Support Group
Wellington, New Zealand
2 July, 2001