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The various Associations of Interchurch Families throughout the world have as our primary purpose the support of interchurch families. We encourage couples to strengthen their own unity while maintaining an active role in two churches. We also attempt to help strengthen the Christian commitment of couples where one member's attachment to their church has become nominal.

Crisis points

Couples who come together from different church backgrounds face crisis points:

  • telling their families; one or both may question or be opposed to the marriage on religious grounds
  • the where and how of the wedding
  • the baptism of their children
  • First Communion and confirmation

They have to cope with the on-going question of worship when their churches are not in communion with one another; conflicting messages from different pastors as pastoral moves occur; and the Christian upbringing of their children when the family is linked with two separate denominations.

Couples in the various Associations of Interchurch Families around the world have faced or are facing some or all of these questions. They can share their experience with other interchurch couples. They can tell how problems have become opportunities for deepening the spiritual life of the couple; for enriching family life by the coming together of two traditions within one household; for bringing together families, friends, clergy and local congregations across the denominational divide, for example on the joyful occasion of a shared celebration of baptism.

Mixed Marriages

Mixed couples in which one or both partners have no regular commitment to church-going may face considerable problems if they wish to get married in church or bring their children for baptism. Sometimes information and support from the Associations can prevent them being driven further away from the churches by lack of understanding of their situation.

Even two practicing Christians may be inclined to give up their connections with the churches altogether, if they find those churches apparently trying to drive a wedge between them in their new-found unity. Or, religion can become a no-go area in their marriage, making it so much the poorer. The Association can reassure couples that this need not happen.

Roman Catholic rules and their application, as well as the attitudes of all the churches, have changed enormously in recent years; many couples have needless difficulties due to lack of up-to-date information. Even priests and ministers may have to check up on the latest situation.

Called to unity

Many interchurch couples have discovered that differences need not mean division, and that unity need not mean uniformity. They have their own ecumenical vocation as an interchurch couple. As Pope John Paul II said at York in 1982: "You live in your marriages the hopes and difficulties of the path to Christian unity. Express that hope in prayer together, in the unity of love."

In living the creative tension of married love, they have come to know that the scandal is not that interchurch couples love each other; rather, it is that the Body of Christ is sorely divided.

They have come to experience intimately the prayer of Jesus: "Father, that all may be one" (Jn 17:21). They do not know what form that unity will take, but only that Christ, who prayed for it, must and will be the one who brings it about.

In the journey to Christian unity, they have become a gift of God, a gift for the healing of the churches.

Work for unity

Various Associations have produced differing responses to the needs of their locales and nations. Here are just a few.

The British Association (AIF) produces a twice-yearly journal, Interchurch Families, which helps interchurch families, relatives, godparents, clergy and ministers, marriage counsellors and all involved in pastoral care to keep abreast of developments which concern mixed marriages and interchurch families, in the context of the wider ecumenical movement.

It also produces The Interdependent, a quarterly publication written by and for the children of interchurch couples. Couples can choose, depending on the welcome they receive from their respective churches, to go to one or other or both of their churches. Children have no such option, and doubly either benefit or suffer from the attitudes of the respective churches. This publication acts as a venue for voicing of their concerns, sorrows, and joys.

The Northern Ireland Mixed Marriage Association (NIMMA) works extensively in housing and education, helping interchurch couples find peaceful areas in which to live and educate their children.

The rapidly growing American Association (AAIF), produces The Ark.

The French Association produces Foyers Mixtes, a regular report on interchurch work, theology, and activities.

The Italian Association has worked extensively on interchurch marriage preparation and catechesis.

The Canadian Association (CAIF) is an umbrella group for associations in various cities which work actively with local churches and couples, helping to educate and support.

We also operate a listservice, where you can join in conversation with interchurch families around the world.

For more information about the Associations or what's happening in the world of interchurch families, contact Ray & Fenella Temmerman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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