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This article was published in the Summer 2003 issue of The Journal.

Celebrating initiation into Christ and the Church

What is the significance of interchurch families, in which Christians of different traditions and communities (often a Roman Catholic and a Christian of another communion) try to live out their lives as couples and families wit bin both their churches? It is simply, as Pope John Paul II said to them, that they 'live in their marriages the hopes and difficulties of the path to Christian unity'.

They are dealing with all the big issues that face the churches as they grow together towards that unity which Christ willed, but they are doing so on the scale of a single human family, one domestic church. Because they are $mall-scale communities, it is often easier for them to put into practice agreements and initiatives that the churches are still talking about. The spouses do this as equals in marriage, putting into practice as best they can the 'par cum pari' (on an equal footing) of the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism (9).

Much of this issue deals with Christian initiation io interchurch families. It includes a preparatory paper for the annual conference of the British Association of Interchurch Families, which is to focus on this theme (see pp. 8-12).

For a long time there have been remarkable instances of shared celebrations of infant baptism in interchurch families, documented by the Association of Interchurch Families. May we not hope that the churches will increasingly share together in the celebration of the one baptism?

This number breaks new ground in showing how a few interchurch families are beginning to cope with a situation in which !.he traditions of infant baptism and believers' baptism co-exist within a single family. Are not interchurch families, as Bishop Crispian Hollis says, 'at the cutting edge of the ecumenical enterprise'? (p.l3) If families can begin to find a way forward together, does it not allow us to hope that the churches will be able to hold both traditions together as well?

RR