Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Amen to one wedding and a baptism/s- The C of E getting real

Glad to see new guidelines today on the Church of England web-site about how to incorporate a Thanksgiving for Birth or  Baptism into a Marriage Service – if  of course couples have children that they would lke baptised at the same time as their wedding. I’m really pleased about this, not least because Ive ust had an equiry from a family asking for just that – and I wasn’t sure how to begin thinking it through with them.

Here is some detail from the C of E web-site:

A wider wedding welcome for

families – Church offers family-

friendly weddings for couples with


23 July 2009

Engaged couples are welcome to church for the wedding of their dreams – whether or not they have children. That’s the message from the Church of England’s 16,000 parish churches celebrating a wedding ‘high’ this summer.

This is the first summer season since the Church of England initiated a change in the law to make it easier for couples to marry in church. They have more churches available to them – not just their local parish church – since the Church’s General Synod decided that the existing law was too restrictive in a mobile society, and changed it last October. Many churches are already reporting a corresponding rise in weddings.

Now the Church is turning its attention to extending an extra welcome to couples with children, following Archbishops’ Council’s Weddings Project research in Bradford and Buckinghamshire, which found that one in five couples who come to church for a wedding already have children, together or from a previous relationship.

This is backed up by the latest research published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing for the first time that for many couples having children is the first major milestone of adult life, ahead of marriage, in contrast to their parents’ generation. Statistics also show an increasing number of couples now live together before their wedding day.

As a response to this, the Church of England has produced two new service guidelines which merge the marriage service with a thanksgiving for the gift of a child or with baptism. The Church hopes these new ideas will help churches show their welcome for couples with children, and give the whole family a special occasion and a new beginning.

Marriage and Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child is ideal for a couple wishing to celebrate their wedding and thank God for the birth of their child on the same occasion.

Marriage and Holy Baptism offers guidance where couples wish to have their child christened – welcomed into the wider church family – on their wedding day.

Welcoming the new guidelines, the Bishop of Wakefield, Stephen Platten, Chair of the Liturgical Commission, said: “Baptism normally is celebrated in a Sunday act of worship – but patterns of relationship and marriage within society are presenting new opportunities for the Church.  We are therefore offering guidance on how Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child, or indeed Baptism, might be incorporated within a Marriage service so that the church can respond pastorally to our changing world if a priest feels it would be advisable to offer this option.”

Revd Tim Sledge, vicar of Romsey in the Diocese of Winchester, has been asked to ‘merge’ wedding and baptism services several times. He said: “It has been lovely to give couples this flexibility to enjoy an extra special celebration for the whole family. Now the guidelines are available online, the Church can ‘say yes’ and offer an even warmer wedding welcome to couples with children.”

The online suggestions are at:

Naturally, there are critics of this move from the conservative wing of the church – the Church of England wouldnt be the same  without the frequent views of the likes of the Bishop of Fulham:

“It is a pity they have not put in a funeral for grandma as well,” the Bishop of Fulham told The Times.

“What are they playing at? It seems trendy, and it reveals a complete lack of awareness of the reality of what goes on in parishes. I do not understand why they want to do it,” the Right Reverend John Broadhurst said.

But hold on – isnt that precisly why they are doing it – due to an  awareness of how many couples now are having children before marriage and encouraging them to make a new start in a stable and loving committed realtionship sanctioned by the church. What are we clergy meant to do? Turn them away because they have been “naughty” ? All of the couples I see now who want to get married in church are living together – lets get real and rejoice when they approach us for a church service.

July 23, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I agree – why shut the door in the face of someone who wants to come in? I’d say the quote in the newspaper from a Church ‘spokesman’ sums it up pretty well: Church now ‘not standing in judgement on their past but welcoming them and pointing to a fresh future.’

    Comment by Helen Young | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. I think this is a good idea which properly responds to they way many people live today. Perhaps this is the first ‘buy one get one free’ opportunity for the church to bring people in with a special offer!

    Comment by Nick | July 23, 2009 | Reply

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