In just a few weeks, Truro is co-sponsoring a tw0-day Amore Conference, in conjunction with Fresh Expressions. I would encourage everyone to join us on that Thursday, March 16, in Harrisburg, PA, for what I believe will be the heart of the conference.
In preparation for the conference, the Catholic Witness interviewed me, and I want to share that interview with you.
- You are the chair of Fresh Expressions board. What drew you into Fresh Expressions?
I was drawn by the need to bring the church closer to people who had lost contact with the Church and who had no sense of Jesus’ presence in their lives. This is what Fresh Expressions addresses.
- What need or role does this conference (and Fresh Expressions) fill in the area of ministry to families? (i.e., how is it new or significant?)
It shows us two things simultaneously: First, the family is God’s favorite site to reveal his covenant of love to people. So, in a sense, it’s the natural locus for evangelization. Second, the church is a family of families – a big church made up of a lot of different domestic churches. This conference seeks to re-wed what should have never been divorced.
- At the conference, you will be speaking on the centrality of the family in the new evangelization. Is looking at the family and the domestic church a relatively new model or idea?
Actually it is very old. The early, apostolic church is essentially a cluster of domestic churches. For example, in Romans chapter 16, Paul greets the churches that meet in the homes of Christian married couples like Priscilla and Aquila and Junia and Andronicus. Domestic Church is so old and forgotten but it has been rediscovered and thus seems new.
- How can families be a solution and tool for the new evangelization, and, from there, what does it require of those who minister to families?
Families are where we all learn to love and be loved. Or not! What the church enables is that couples can be equipped to bring others into the ambit of that love. A couple whose bond is inhabited by Jesus Christ generates more love than they consume. Domestic church is how we share the excess of love, which in turn makes it ecclesial – a gathered family.
- Are families themselves aware of their role in evangelization; are they ready and prepared to take on the task?
The short answer is “NO, they are not aware.” That is why Truro Anglican Church and Fresh Expressions are teaming up with Don Renzo Bonetti’s Italian ministry and introducing it to the United States.
- From your previous experiences with Fresh Expressions conferences, comment on the synergy that takes place, especially among leaders and ministers of various denominations.
We are entering a new era of ecumenism, an ecumenism of the family. All Christian traditions have families and all of them want their families to flourish. In other words, I believe God is bringing the ecclesial church closer together through the domestic church. When Christians see this for themselves it is both revelatory and energizing.
- What will make this conference worthwhile to attendees; why is it so fruitful.
The church and the family in North America are both suffering. This conference will shed light on the reason why it suffers and what can be done about it. We must remember that when God created the family he was not creating a problem. He was creating a solution to a problem. We still believe that to be true.