CHRIStENINGS, WEDDINGS & FUNERALS
If you are planning to get married come and talk to us about a church wedding! We’d love to help you celebrate in a really special way
We are always delighted to hear from people wanting to mark the birth of a child with a service of Christening (baptism) or thanksgiving.
Funerals create opportunity for people to give thanks for an individual’s life, express grief and commend their loved one to God’s keeping.
What do Christians believe about marriage?
Christians believe that marriage is a gift from God. In the marriage ceremony a couple make a public declaration of lifelong commitment to love each other, come what may.
Can I get married in church?
Not part of church
Even if you are not baptised and do not go to church, you can still get married in a church.
The Church of England agreed in 2002 that divorced people could remarry in church under certain circumstances. We believe that marriage is for life, but we also recognise that, sadly, some marriages do fail. Speak to the vicar of your chosen church about the situation and there may be a way forward. He or she will want to talk to you frankly about your past and your hopes for the future and will let you know whether they can remarry you. Even if it is not possible to do the wedding, they may offer you a service of prayer and dedication after a civil ceremony.
Permission must be granted from your parents to be wed in church.
One of us lives abroad or is a foreign national
Provided one of the couple living in the parish or regularly attending the church, a couple can still be married under common licence without any action being necessary where the other party lives.
If one is a national of a country outside of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the EU or USA, the Church has a responsibility to conduct marriages which will be recognised in the country the bride or groom comes from. This is done for the couple’s benefit not just for bureaucracy. Therefore, the Faculty Office strongly recommends that these marriages should be done by Common Licence rather than banns and some dioceses ask the person to obtain from the relevant embassy or consulate a letter saying that their marriage will be recognised. There are now stricter rules applied by the Civil Registry office to prevent ‘sham’ marriages.
Where can I get married?
Many people like to marry in their local church. Visit www.achurchnearyou.com to find a church in your area if you do not know one already. Any one is welcome to marry in their local Church of England church.
You can also marry in a church if you are on that church’s electoral roll – this means becoming a “member” of that church, usually after attending regularly for a while.
However, we also recognise that people might like to marry in a different church because it has special significance for them through family or other connections. An engaged couple can, therefore, marry in a church if either of them can show one of the following connections with the parish:
That one of you:
- Was baptised in the church concerned or
- Was prepared for confirmation in the parish or
- Has at any time lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or
- Has at any time regularly gone to normal church services in the chosen church for a period of at least 6 months or
That one of your parents, at any time after you were born:
- Has lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or
- Has regularly gone to normal church services in that parish church for a period of at least 6 months or
That one of your parents or grandparents:
- Was married in that parish church
Even if you cannot demonstrate any of the above connections, we want to help you explore whether it may be possible for you marry in your specially chosen church. Talk to the vicar well in advance to discuss the options open to you.
What about a church blessing?
There is a service of prayer and dedication after a civil ceremony and this can be adapted. You may have hymns, readings, music and flowers at an agreed cost, but there are no legal requirements of charges for this service.
Where can I get more information?
Speak to a member of our clergy for more information regarding at wedding at St Matthew’s.
Alternatively, this website has a lot of helpful information about getting married in church.
What is baptism?
Baptism, sometimes called Christening, is a specifically Christian “rite of initiation”. In other words, through our Baptism we receive God’s blessing and are welcomed into the world-wide family of God’s Church, onto a life-long journey of faith, commitment and loving relationship; and that is what we celebrate during the service. It is the first step of faith in response to God’s love, marking the beginning of a journey with God that continues for the rest of our lives.
Baptism is a sign, first of all, of God’s love and commitment to his people. The Bible teaches that, despite our rejection of God, God still loves us. He’s sent his son Jesus into the world to be our Saviour, and longs to bring his life and healing to every single person.
Baptism is also a sign of our commitment to God. In the service we declare that we turn to Christ – an indication that we are willing to centre our lives on Jesus, following his teaching and example.
Baptism is also the way in which a person formally becomes a member of the Christian church. That’s why baptism ideally takes place within a normal church service. It’s also why participants affirm that they share the church’s faith in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When an adult is baptised they make these declarations for themselves. A young child is obviously unable to do this, so the affirmations are made on their behalf by the parents and Godparents. Parents and Godparents also promise that they will actively seek to pass on the Christian faith to the child – both by their own example, and by regular participation in the life and worship of the local church.
Bringing a child for baptism therefore represents a definite commitment to Christ and to the local church. We believe that these promises should not be made lightly, and although we want to encourage people to be baptised, we want to make sure that parents and Godparents understand that baptism is much more than just a matter of “getting the baby done”.
We are aware that sometimes there is strong pressure from grandparents, or other family members, to have a child baptised, but would encourage parents who aren’t ready to make these strong commitments to say “no”. After all, if promises are made with no real intention of keeping them, it will be setting children a pretty poor example for the future.
Do parents have to be baptised?
Parents do not have to be baptised in order to bring a child for baptism. However, it does seem inconsistent for parents to make promises on behalf of their child, when they have not made them for themselves first! We therefore encourage all parents, who have not already been baptised, to consider being baptised at the same time as their child.
Does it matter if parents aren't married?
Christian teaching is clear that marriage provides the only appropriate place for sexual relations, and by far the best environment for bringing up children. As a church we believe that there is a real inconsistency in making the public declaration of Christian faith in baptism, yet being unwilling to live by the clear teaching of the bible in these important matters. Whilst we do not refuse applications for baptism from unmarried parents, we would strongly encourage any unmarried couples to consider marriage – both for your own security and for your children’s well-being. This step, we believe, will be far more significant to your children than a baptism
What about Godparents?
The normal recommendation is to have 3 Godparents – 2 of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. This is not a hard and fast rule, but there is a lot of common sense in it. We recognize that there are all sorts of personal considerations about who to choose – you may already have family and friends in mind. However, we would encourage you to also think through the spiritual dimension to the role. Godparents are expected to make a very definite declaration of their own Christian faith, and to promise to help the child to grow up as a member of the church too. It is a minimum requirement that Godparents must have been baptised themselves. Godparents are encouraged to attend the Baptism Preparation sessions if they are able to.
Is there an alternative to Baptism?
Yes there is! Our experience is that many people would like some kind of service in church to say “thank you” to God for their child, with family and friends present, but without having to make promises or declare a personal commitment to the Christian faith. The Thanksgiving service (see below) provides for just this need, and we would be very happy to explain more about how this works if you’re interested.
The Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child offers you, your family and friends an opportunity to give thanks for the birth (or adoption) of a child and to join together to celebrate and pray for family life. We offer this service to everyone who asks as an expression of God’s unconditional love for you and your child. You don’t have to say anything about what you believe; you don’t have to promise anything; this service is about thanksgiving and celebration.
This service also enables you to recognise the role of friends in your child’s life and for them to stand at the front of church with you as Supporting Friends.
How do I arrange a funeral?
Whether you would prefer a funeral service in church, the cemetery or the crematorium, your first step is normally to contact a local firm of funeral directors, who will help you make all the necessary practical arrangements for the service. They will also contact the church to organise a member of clergy to conduct the ceremony. The member of clergy will meet with you to plan the service and discuss what else you may like to happen.
What does a funeral cost?
This can often be a concern so please do discuss this with the funeral director or the member of the clergy team when they visit you.
What happens after the funeral?
We recognise that this can be a difficult and lonely time and would like to encourage you stay in touch with the church; we want to be able to continue to support you. Three times a year we hold a Memorial Service where there is an opportunity to remember your loved one who has died. We also hold a special service, called “Blue Christmas”, for those who will find Christmas a difficult time. You will receive an invitation to at least one of these services.