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Weekend Seminar for Interchurch Couples and Families,


13-15 October, 2000
Dornstadt, Germany

The annual meeting for interchurch couples and families at the Protestant College of Further Education in Dornstadt bei Ulm was fully booked this year, with 28 adults and 16 children taking part. It was led by Pastor Sven Büchmeier (Methodist) and Father Kilian Hönle (Roman Catholic), together with the Anders and the Laubers. The seminar was put on by the Methodist Church and supported by the Roman Catholic and Protestant Church. This year’s theme was " From churches separated to churches brought together in marriage – our special task".

In their presentation the Beyers, interchurch couple and theologians from Tübingen, took as their starting point the biblical basis that requires Christians to be united. They went on to show that the separate denominations are in a state of sin because of their divisions. What is true above all for interchurch couples in their marriage is that what God has united, the table of the Lord ought not to divide. In interchurch families unity is lived and experienced in reconciled and enriched diversity. These families have a prophetic mission for the unity of the churches.

The subject matter of the presentation was discussed extensively in small groups. Those who took part reported on their experiences, and their ideas for making their ecumenical mission bear fruit in their own parishes.

Pastor Sven Büchmeier gave a presentation of the current ecumenical situation. He expressed the hope of more concrete sharing between the churches and referred by way of example to the sharing in preaching and the Eucharist brought about by the Leuenberg agreement between the Methodist and the Lutheran Church. He described the system of teaching religious education, increasingly marked by division by denomination, as a serious problem, particularly for interchurch families.

Father Kilian Hönle took as his starting point the pronouncements of the second Vatican Council. He referred to Pope John XXIII and illustrated his vision of unity in reconciled diversity with the image of a Gothic cathedral: the foundation is faith in the Holy Trinity. The pillars reaching upwards are the different churches, which are held together through Jesus Christ the corner stone.

In accordance with the spirit of the seminar theme was the feedback on the activities of the ‘Network of Interchurch Couples and Families’, founded a year ago. In Dornstadt the focus was on the practicalities for families of living the life of faith. In Heilsbronn near Nuremberg, at the annual meeting of the Network from 26-28 January 2001, the planned focus is to be on the theological presentations by the well known ecumenists Professor Pesch, Dr Hövelmann and Professor Heron.

It is part of the excellent tradition of the Dornstadt meeting that the children are not only well looked after, but are also included in the seminar.

A shared ecumenical service on Sunday morning was the highlight of the weekend. It was prepared by both ministers, together with the Anders, the Hörters and the Denzels. The seminar participants played an active part, together with the children, with slides that they themselves had painted.