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This article was published in the January 2000 issue of The Journal.

Re-affirming my Commitment in front of my Second Christian Family

Hi, my name is Linda Buchanan, and I was born into an interchurch family. I live in Montreal. My Mom is Roman Catholic, and my Dad is Protestant (United Church of Canada). I am … well, I’m Christian, at least that is what I would say if you asked me. I have been brought up in both churches, and I go to both services every Sunday, and I’m very involved in both. I am a reader in the Catholic Church, and a Sunday School teacher for the little ones in the Protestant Church, as well as assistant director for the Junior Choir. I was baptised in the Roman Catholic Church, and made my First Communion in the Catholic Church as well. I now take communion in both churches.

Dual confirmation
At the age of eleven I was confirmed in the Catholic Church, and at that time I didn’t think it would be a problem to be confirmed again in the Protestant Church. I continued to believe this until I went to the World Gathering of Interchurch Families in Geneva in 1998. There I heard the stories of other young people who had grown up in interchurch families, particularly Anglican/Roman Catholic families, and all the problems they had had. I began to think that making this link in my beliefs might be impossible. But last February I asked my minister if I could be confirmed in the Protestant Church, and I could hardly believe it when I heard him say: "Why not?" I went to the preparation classes with two other friends that I had grown up with in the church, and in May 1999 I was confirmed in the United Church family. I talked to my Catholic priest too and at first he was not too happy about it, but he saw how important it was to me and said that he could not stand in my way. The Roman Catholic Church does not officially recognise the Protestant confirmation. My Protestant minister said I would just be re-affirming my confirmation, but in front of my other Christian family. Both my parents were very happy about it; they knew I was not denying my Catholic confirmation, but expressing the richness of my Christian life.

In the Catholic Church we re-affirm our confirmation every Easter, so I guess it was a bit like that when I re-affirmed my confirmation in front of my other church family. I didn’t find the main part of the confirmation very different. What was different was that I was a little more mature, since I was fifteen instead of eleven. In the Catholic Church I learned what the church believes. In the Protestant Church I learned what I believe. But I’m not saying that I believe in the Protestant Church more than the Catholic Church.

Sharing a building
I guess it was easier for me because of my particular church families. They share one building, and both worship in the same place. The story of how it came to happen is that there was one church that did not have a building to worship in, and another who could not afford their building. So now they worship in the same building, at different times. So my two church families are aware of my and my family’s situation, and indeed we are not the only family that worships in both. The two churches also do things together, like Sunday socials, Palm Sunday brunch and the young people’s Good Friday Passion Play, just to pick out a few.

Confirmation into the Christian Church
Although I am confirmed in both of my churches, my wish and my dream is a confirmation that has nothing to do with denominations. A confirmation into the Christian Church. I know that this will not be easy, but I want somehow in my lifetime to help take a few steps in that direction. Then after a few generations when the family religious history consists not just of two but of many denominations, they won’t have to decide a denomination, just a religion. Maybe one day all the people who make up the Christian family will break down the walls that the denominations have built up. Then we can all live as one, big happy family, sisters and brothers.

Linda Buchanan