By John Xenakis (South Bend)
My understanding of ecumenism comes from my father, Christopher. He grew up in Little Greece in Downtown Chicago and was raised Greek Orthodox. (While growing up, my family had Orthodox icons of Jesus on top of our television. My grandma would walk up to them and kiss the pictures as we tried to watch TV.)
When my dad went to college in the late 60s, he met people in Campus Crusade for Christ, a Christian Organization. He joined a Protestant Church and continued going to Orthodox church with the family. After finishing his undergraduate degree, my father went to a Baptist seminary in Portland, Oregon, where he met my mom, who was raised Lutheran. After preaching in Arizona, in 1983, he became a Navy chaplain-- a pivotal time in my father's life. He saw chaplains working together on the base and on the ships in order to draw more strength from their unity, and it effectively drew more people into worship services. Those 15 years as a chaplain certainly brought about his ecumenism. I never heard the word ecumenical until I met the People of Praise, but my dad would always say, "If I meet a Catholic, I want to help him become a better Catholic. Same goes with Orthodox, or Protestant denominations. My message is Jesus." Rev. Christopher Xenakis still works in ministry as a Pastor for two smaller churches in Cortland, NY, and I still enjoy his sermons and the church community. My mom and dad have been to several People of Praise meetings and functions, and they fully appreciate our worship and our work together in ecumenism.