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Award for Ecumenical Leadership

Granted by the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, to
Ray & Fenella Temmerman, Morden, MB, Canada
for their work on behalf of interchurch families.

The event began with a 'pre-event picnic'.  About 30 people gathered together, including one mother and 7 of her 8 children (eldest 10), plus another two she just happens to take care of while their dad is working (mother died of cancer).  Included were one sister and brother-in-law, a Mennonite couple who is part of our Catholic - Mennonite dialogue group, plus a bunch of good friends who have walked with us over the years. 

Then we went into the chapel, which is a wonderful place where it's ever-so-easy to enter into prayer.

Due to the 'regularly scheduled' Saturday evening eucharist not being celebrated that particular meeting, people were invited to enter into the eucharist fast that is the lot of many interchurch couples.

A Liturgy of the Word was celebrated, with an Anglican, a Mennonite, and a Catholic proclaiming the scriptures, followed by a Scripture reflection.

Following the reflection, people were invited to break into small groups for about 10 minutes of reflection and discussion on two questions.   1) What does eucharist mean to me?  2) What are other ways of entering into communion? 

While they were discussing those questions, the Temmermans took the children to another room where the children had an opportunity to talk about what the eucharist meant to them.  It helped that one Lutheran lad had just been confirmed and was now receiving, so there was a clear focus on what it meant to now receive Jesus.

Finally, there was a time of prayer where people could voice their petitions.  The liturgy closed with the Doxology, "Glory to God, whose power working in us..."

The group then moved on to the award ceremony itself, with now about 50 people present, including Anglican Bishop Don Phillips and his wife Nancy.

Adele Brodeur, Assistant Director of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism in Montreal, welcomed the people on behalf of the Centre.  She situated the award very solidly within the Centre's history and work.

She then invited Ray to give a brief history of the work of interchurch families , then Fenella to speak of concrete examples of the work of interchurch families.

Following that, people were invited to enter into an ecumenical dialogue exercise.  We did a simple 'ecumenical gift exchange'.  We invited people to think of two things which were of real value within their own churches, and which they saw as worth contributing to the Body of Christ, then find someone whom they could share these gifts with, and hear of the other's gifts.  We allowed only about 5 minutes for that, then moved to the second part, which was thinking of two gifts or values found in another Christian tradition, and sharing those, again for about 5 minutes.

People found the first part very easy, but often had more difficulty with the second.  We pointed out that true ecumenism could only come as we began to recognize and celebrate the gift that others brought to the Body, rather than simply focussing on our own gift.  But, as we pointed out, in this exercise they had embarked on the true ecumenical journey, and who knows where that might lead?

Then Adele Brodeur presented the Tememrmans with the award.  Along with the presentation, she read a wonderful letter of affirmation and support from thePrairie Centre for Ecumenism and the Saskatoon interchurch families group.

There was then time for people simply to mingle and chat, with St. Benedict's Retreat and Conference Centre providing cheese, crackers, fruit, coffee, etc..  All in all, a wonderful time, full of meaning.  It was also very good to have various friends meet and discover each other.