Living an ecumenical relationship

By  Nicole Lau, Youth Speak News
  • May 2, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - Ecumenical relationships are an undisputed reality. Yet many couples, split by denomination, remain united in purpose. Peggy Li and Raymond Leung are two young adults who make their inter-church relationship work, built upon a foundational understanding of human dignity and the beauty of religious tradition.

“We are both committed to our traditions, and neither of us seek to convert the other,” Li said.

Li, a Catholic, and Leung, an Evangelical Christian, met through friends at a party four years ago. However, they began to interact more when Li began attending a Protestant fellowship known as the Chinese Christian Fellowship at University of Toronto.

“The group made me realize a richness of worship beyond attending Sunday Masses and taught me to develop my sense of the Catholic tradition through shared discussion and living the faith daily,” she said.

Despite enjoying the ecumenical scene, Li said she still considers Catholicism the centre of her faith life. She is a resident Student Campus Minister at the University of Toronto’s Newman Centre, where she and several other residents minister to the parish and lead student initiatives and events catered to the university audience.

Leung is completing his Masters in Divinity at the University of British Columbia. Both said they have benefited from learning about the other faith tradition. Their relationship has helped them learn more about the other’s traditions and fostered a continued dialogue.

Instead of focusing on the differences, their relationship has lasted four years based on common ground, Leung said. The couple share similar political and social justice beliefs, and with a united conviction that disagreement and refusal to compromise will not accomplish peace and unity, they persevere and talk through issues rather than stonewalling each other on opposing views.

Li said she still has plenty to learn and feels the need to be open-minded and curious of other faith traditions. What was important to her was the shared respect for the Christian tradition. The sense of commitment and willingness to work through these differences together is important to the relationship, Leung said. He added this is perhaps more marked in an ecumenical relationship, because the differences can seem more stark.

Leung pointed out their differing views on transubstantiation and the communion of saints’ roles in their faith as examples. However, Leung said that “these are matters of theological discussion and interest and don't necessarily impact upon our relationship with each other.”

Li said the differences they have had to work through are chiefly doctrinal and theological matters, not “centrepieces of their faiths,” which have been resolved with mutual expressions of their views and the idea that despite these differences, their relationship does not, as Leung agreed, “hang in the balance due to them.”

Together, they talk about marriage and family, agreeing that both traditions can add a great wealth to the education of their children. Both want to allow their children to be raised in a faith-filled, loving home, attending the two churches and being enriched as they have been themselves.

They believe that their children would be able to make an informed decision in choosing one denomination, and that would be respected and welcomed, no matter the choice, Li said.

The important thing, and really their role, she added, is to “facilitate a warm, loving home to foster the children in their faith journeys.”

(Lau, 20, studies history at the University of Toronto.)

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