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Celebrating Christian Marriage at St. Thomas’ Church Introduction We at St. Thomas’ Parish welcome your request to be married at our historic church and invite you to consider and reflect upon the following statement of and guidelines for Christian Marriage in our parish. Christian Marriage as Covenant Christian marriage is a sign of lifelong relationship between man and woman. In contrast to contract, covenant involves the giving of ourselves unreservedly in love to one another. Husband and wife fulfill each other, and their love gives birth to new life in and through each other. This loving union and equal partnership is possible because Jesus Christ is the foundation and bond of unity. Marriage in the Church assumes this understanding, and in seeking God’s blessing intends to actively live out a covenant relationship within the life of the Church supported by other men and women of faith. This understanding originates from the Bible which affirms throughout that marriage is no mere social convention, but a part of the Creator’s original design. We are made for relationship with one another. Jesus reiterates this doctrine when he quotes from the Book of Genesis: “from the beginning of creation God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6) This drive toward union is therefore one of God’s greatest gifts. (Genesis 1:26-31). Marriage is also used extensively throughout the Scriptures to speak metaphorically of God’s desire to be united with all of humankind. In the Old Testament, God is often spoken of as husband to Israel. While in the New Testament Jesus’ relationship to the Church is compared to that between a bridegroom and his bride. Likewise St. Paul teaches in his letter to the Ephesians that the union of man and woman is symbolic of Christ’s union with His Church. And in the Book of Revelation the coming of the Kingdom of God is likened to a marriage feast. Wedding Policy Please read the following carefully and be prepared to sign the declaration of intent at the end of the leaflet, thereby indicating your willing to adhere to the policy set forth. Initial Interview If after reading the contents of this brochure you wish to proceed, we suggest that you fill out the application for marriage and direct it to the church office. (You may obtain a form at our website or request one from the office.) A tentative date and time for the wedding may be booked then and confirmed after you have met with one of the clergy. Please note that as marriage preparation is extensive, we usually require a minimum of 6 months notice. The interview with the clergy will provide you with an initial opportunity to get acquainted, look at some of the practicalities involved in planning a wedding, and begin a reflection together upon the meaning and commitment of Christian marriage. Marriage preparation When couples are entertaining the idea of a life-long commitment of marriage (even those who have been living together) they are naturally looking for tools that will help make their marriage work. The Marriage Preparation Course, which we offer a number of times each year, covers topics like: the importance of commitment; how to recognize & appreciate your differences; the art of communication; resolving conflict; spending time together; making each other feel loved; developing a good sexual relationship; the importance of talking about your goals, values & dreams. The setting for the 5 week evening course is a candle light gourmet dinner. (See The Marriage preparation Course brochure for details at: www.st-thomaschurch.com.) Couples whose work habits or academic studies take them out of the St. John’s area will be asked to seek out a clergy in their locale who can give them the necessary pastoral oversight. Written confirmation and/or certificate upon completion of a comparable marriage preparation course can then be forwarded to us. Matrimonial Commission Although no longer a feature of all Anglican Dioceses in Canada, the Ecclesiastical Matrimonial Commission remains in effect in our Diocese to assist divorced persons (whose former spouses are still living) that desire to be married in the Church. You and your clergy will be asked to make written application to the Commission. This pastoral process which will seek to explore in some depth the causes of the marital breakdown (and will normally involve 3 or 4 appointments) is meant to assist you in establishing your new relationship under God. When the Commission has reviewed the application for re-marriage, a recommendation is made to the Bishop, who may (or not) approve the wedding. Church Involvement From the understanding of Christian marriage outlined above, you will recognize why we stress the importance of personal faith in God through Jesus Christ, and commitment to a shared life lived in the fellowship of Christ’s Body. This is why we also normally expect that at least one of you will already be an active and contributing member of St. Thomas’, and that both of you will be baptized Christians. Where that is not the case, and you are not associated with any other Christian community, but are open to and seeking a spiritual home, then we would encourage you to take the time to connect with and experience the various kinds of worship and ministries that make up our common parish life. Over and above the teaching that The Marriage Preparation Course provides you may also find the Alpha Course a useful learning tool. It is especially designed to help seekers explore those fundamental questions like: Who am I? Why am I here? Where is my life leading? It might also be a great jump off point if you are thinking about baptism. If upon reading this brochure, and after due reflection, you conclude that you are not at this time able to make such a commitment, what we would encourage you to do is think about a civil ceremony. This can be a very significant and beautiful matrimonial expression of your love for one another. (There is provision for the blessing of civil marriages of any couples who want to re-affirm their wedding vows before God and a community of faith at a later time.) The Marriage Service Wedding services are conducted according to the rites provided in one of two Anglican worship books: the Book of Common Prayer (traditional language) and the Book of Alternative Services (contemporary), with provision for the celebration of Holy Communion in the liturgy. The clergy will be happy to acquaint you thoroughly with the depth of meaning contained in these liturgies, and will be available to discuss all particulars related to the planning of your wedding service, including the selection of Scripture lessons and suitable music, and the participation and involvement of family and friends in the ceremony. Music The music you choose as part of the celebration and blessing of your marriage will add much to the beauty of the occasion as an act of Christian worship. Our organist and music director, Ki Adams, will be pleased to assist you in all of your musical considerations. He may be reached at 753 9634 or by e-mail:email@example.com. Should you want to preview some music before hand we recommend that you go to http://www.stclementchurch.org/worship/sacraments/weddings/music.php. Rehearsal A rehearsal lasting about 60 minutes usually takes place one or two evenings prior to the wedding with as many of the bridal party present as possible. Photography Because the wedding is a service of worship, it is important that care be taken and decorum maintained during the ceremony. We would ask you to please observe the following *Use of Video camera must be without additional lighting and in a stationary, inconspicuous place. *Pictures by photographer, family and friends are restricted to the Bridal Procession, the Signing of the Register and the Recessional. *Optional photography may be arranged with the Wedding Party following the ceremony in the Chancel of the Church. Flowers & other decoration The flowers which are normally in the church may be all you desire. However, should you wish to purchase additional flowers you will want to consult the clergy about appropriate arrangements. Flowers placed in the Church in memory of loved ones shouldn’t be removed following the ceremony. The Church has Pew Markers specially designed for weddings which will be placed by the Sexton prior to the service. You may add your own decorations to the markers as long as no tacks or tape are used. We ask that you ensure that no confetti, rice, bird seed, flower petals, bubbles, etc. be used anywhere on the Church grounds. Wedding Bulletin Should you wish to have a service bulletin or booklet the clergy will be happy to consult with you about style and content. You will be responsible for its publication. Registration Requirements You are required to obtain a Marriage License and Registration of Marriage document from the Registrar of Vital Statistics at the Government Service Centre, 5 Mews Place, St. John’s, or any Provincial Marriage Registrar. You will need your birth certificates and, if divorced, your previous Marriage Certificate and Certificate of Divorce. The license is good for one month and should be delivered to the Church Office eight days before the wedding. Fees In order to provide services and support to all those who seek to be married in the Church, and to help cover facility operational costs of our historic building, St. Thomas’ proposes the following fee structure: Church $250 Clergy $100 Organist $100 (Plus an additional $40 if a music rehearsal is included.) Sexton $ 50 Please place amounts in clearly identified, of the rehearsal. individual envelopes and give them to the clergy at the time Officiating Clergy Should a couple desire an additional Anglican or other clergy to assist at their wedding they will first need to consult with one of the Parish Clergy. Declaration of Intent (To be signed by the couple at the first interview with the clergy.) We, who are presently of or are actively inquiring about membership in the Christian Community of St. Thomas’ Church, affirm our intent to enter into Christian marriage, which we understand is a union of faithful love, to the exclusion of all others, for better or worse, until we are separated by death. We choose to prepare ourselves for the exchange of vows at our wedding, recognizing that by this mutual exchange our union in marriage will be established. We intend from that point on to strive to fulfill the purpose of marriage: the mutual friendship, support and comfort of one another in Christ Jesus and the procreation (if it may be) and the nurture of children, and the creation of a relationship in which sexuality may serve personal fulfillment in a community of faithful love. Man Woman Clergy Date Matrimonial Commission Required? Yes No Thank you for your enquiry about marriage at St. Thomas’. Please call 709 576 6632 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment with one of our clergy. For details about services, ministries and current happenings go to: www.stthomaschurch.com.
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