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Secrétariat du Comité d’organisation du Rassemblement Genève 1998

Eric et Pamela Fiévet
9, rue du Bourbonnais
F-92600 Asnières Asnières, March 27, 1998
Tél. 33 1 41 11 31 61
Tél. + fax: 33 1 47 93 45 05
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The AIF International Conference was held from Thursday, July 23, 1998 p.m. to Tuesday, July 28, 1998 a.m. at the World Council of Churches’ Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Organization Committee Franco-Swiss membership is as follows:

Chairman: Fr. René Beaupère, o.p.
Treasurers: Eveline and Patrice Guérin
Secretariat: Pamela and Eric Fiévet
Rev. Anne-Lise Nerfin
Irène and Paul Bartholdi
Erika and Pierre Beffa
Isabelle and Bruno Guerpillon
Nicola Kontzi
Anita and Jean Liaras
Laure and Eric Lombard
Brigitte and Julien Vielle.

The Organization Committee’s role was to organize the thematic, logistic and spiritual aspects of the Assembly. It was backed up by the Support Committee constituted at Virginia Beach 96 with the following members:

Fenella and Ray Temmerman and Fr. Philippe Thibodeau (Canada)
Fr. George Kilcourse, Barb and Michael Slater (United States)
Mary, Rev. Chris and Ellen Bard, Barbara and Tony Bone, Helen and Philip Mayles, Ruth and Canon Martin Reardon (United Kingdom)
Martine and Benoît Héritier (France)

The Support Committee’s role was to spread the news of the Assembly as widely as possible (public relations), encourage attendance (answers to the questionnaire and registration form) and to seek financial support in Europe as well as America.

Why did we hold the international gathering in Geneva?

Interchurch (IC) families already are and must increasingly become driving forces of the ecumenical movement as it searches for a new impetus.

1) IC families get to know one another as they overcome the boundaries of language, culture and Church membership. So there were workshops to further better understanding and dialog, not in order to reach conformity of views or to decide on an identical line of action, but to cross-fertilize each other's opinions and coordinate possible future activities with full respect for legitimate diversities. These workshops focussed on the impact of IC families on

  • the life of the Churches and the ecumenical movement to which they are committed: what are the consequences for a Church itself and its relations with other Churches to have active members also belonging to another Church?
  • the life in our societies: what must IC families say and do in concrete terms (no long speeches), when faced with the pressing challenges, which can vary from one country to another, of dechristianization, the rise of fundamentalism, the laborious task of constructing Europe, racial tensions,etc.

2) The gulf between leaders and grass-roots of the ecumenical movement, including IC families, has widened. At the Geneva assembly, for which the chosen venue is significantly the Headquarters of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the participants discovered the human face of the two world institutions whose vocation it is to further ecumenism: on the one hand, the WCC, with an introductory testimony (followed by discussion) by Rev. Konrad Raiser, Secretary General of the WCC and on the other hand the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, with an address by Mgr. Pierre Duprey, Secretary General of this Vatican Secretariat, also followed by discussion. Such contacts should foster subsequent cooperation between Geneva, Rome and IC families.

3) It was an extrovert gathering, focussing less on the everyday joys and sorrows of IC families (although some workshops were specifically devoted to these pastoral aspects), but rather on the endeavor to define their specific role within the ecumenical movement as a whole, to find new and better ways of conveying to the world at large the Good News of Jesus the Saviour.

Translations and simultaneous interpretation were provided in English and French.

Outline of schedule:

  • Thursday, July 23, 1998 p.m.: arrivals and registration

Plenaries and workshops:

  • Friday, July 24, a.m.: welcome and introduction by Fr. Beaupère, o.p., Director of the Centre St. Irénée, Lyons, France.

First main address by Mgr. Pierre Duprey, Secretary General of the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, followed by questions and discussion.

  • Saturday, July 25, a.m :

Second main address by Rev. Konrad Raiser,Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, followed by questions and discussion.

Mgr. Duprey and Rev. Raiser were present at both morning sessions and responded to questions addressed to either, individually and together.

  • Friday and Saturday afternoon sessions:
a) double belonging - double insertion, which terminology do we prefer?
b) to “find one’s nest” in a comfortable parish - or to be a militant ecumenist?
c) are IC couples better equipped to solve the world’s conflicts?
d) “I have a dream” (M.L.King) - the ecumenical movement tomorrow?
e) and what if education towards unity proves to be successful?
f) prayers - received, experienced, shared.

Reports from national AIF groups.

Prof. Michael Lawler, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska reported to us on his study of IC families in the US.

Eric Lombard presented the result of the world-wide survey conducted prior to the Assembly.

  • Monday, July 27, a.m.: plenary to send a message from Geneva 98 to the World Council of Churches’ Assembly at Harare (December 1998) and to the Preparatory Committee for the Jubilee 2000 in Rome.
  • Tuesday, July 28: departures.

Prayer and worship

There was a Roman Catholic mass celebrated on Saturday evening at the WCC chapel, a Protestant Eucharistic service on Sunday morning in the Geneva St. Peter’s cathedral and concluding prayers (without Eucharist) to end the Assembly on Monday, p.m. at the WCC.

Youths and adolescents

Youths and adolescents were encouraged to attend. A special program was prepared for and by them. Entertainment was also planned. Rooms and baby-sitters were available for small children.



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