United by a deep common faith, Susan & Emmanuel COUDEL share through their experience as an interdenominational couple how they discover a source of spiritual treasures. Emmanuel & Susan are part of the Chemin Neuf Communion. Emmanuel is a delegate for Christian unity in the diocese of Besançon (F). Susan contributes to Hozana, a social prayer network.

Susan: I am American and grew up in the United Presbyterian Church, in the Reformed tradition.

Emmanuel: I am French and grew up in the Roman Catholic Church.

A deep common faith

Susan: Before we married, we recognized a deep common faith which united us well beyond our denominational differences. We felt that our union had 3 members, that the Lord was with us, showing us the way forward.

Emmanuel: Early on, we decided to go to church together rather than separately. We quickly encountered the suffering caused by Church divisions, chiefly concerning the sharing of the Eucharist. Our discovery of the Chemin Neuf community and its openness to ecumenical life helped us realize that we were not alone in our struggles. There, we were able to experience the fact that Christians can really live together as brothers and sisters in Christ, all the while respecting our different traditions.

Getting to know each other’s Church

Susan: Getting to know the Catholic church and its many facets has helped me deepen my prayer life, both in silent contemplation and in group worship. I have learned to know and depend on the Holy Spirit and his guidance for my life. And the Catholic tradition has fortified my belief that our God is essentially a God of love and mercy, far from the God of judgment I had learned about as a child. 

Emmanuel: As I have gotten to know the Reformed tradition, I have come to appreciate the way the sermon brings out the inner meaning of the Biblical texts. I have deepened my knowledge of the Bible’s fabric, and the way the different stories, prophets, poems…  are woven together. I have realized that being saved by grace is the heart of our common faith in God. Concerning Church life, I appreciate the dynamic quality of Protestant communities over and beyond the worship service, the way each member of a church can be involved in the life of the whole, and the participation of lay people in Church governance.   

Discover a source of spiritual treasures

Susan: After our CANA Week, we decided to find a way to pray together each morning.  We have combined our traditions, reading the Biblical texts suggested by the Catholic missel and the Protestant devotions, we sing and pray for those we love and those in need. The meditations by Catholics and by Protestants cast light on the texts and fortify our faith throughout the day to come.

Emmanuel: Our own experience as an interdenominational couple has given us a perception of other traditions as being a source of spiritual treasures. Rather than fearing or shunning other Christians, we can exchange the gifts each has received from God in our hearts, thus deepening our own faith and enlarging our brother/sisterhood.