Soon you can marry in any church you like… well not quite

Church Weddings I have just been watching BBC News 24 (although they have subtly changed it to BBC News now that we all know it is on 24 hours a day) and they ran a short but interesting feature on church marriages which you can read more about here

Basically, from Autumn 2008 it will become a lot easier for a couple to marry in a church outside their local parish and the rules on regular attendance will also be relaxed.  They interviewed a vicar from a picturesque church in a leafy village near Surrey (sorry I forgot the village name) who said something along the lines that if a couple chooses to marry in a pretty church just so that their wedding photos will look good then it is tantamount to blasphemy.  These are fairly harsh words but I guess he has a point and it probably explains why up until now the church has imposed so fairly strict rules on a couple choosing to marrying in a church.

The changes mean people will be able to get married anywhere they have lived for six months, or where their parents or grandparents were married.   Currently couples can get married in an Anglican church only if they attend it regularly or live within the parish.

The report did not explain why the rules were being relaxed.  I can only assume it is to help increase the couples making a religious vows so as to instil a bit of faith into the couple and congregation who would otherwise may have opted for a civil ceremony in a plush hotel lounge, stately home or some other licenced venue.  The number of church goers has declined over recent decades and an interesting report in The Telegraph, although a couple of years old now, had the following quote by The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams:

The last English Church Census, carried out in 1998, showed an alarming decline in the number of children and young people in church,” said Dr Williams. “These latest results suggest we have yet to reverse this, but at least the rate of change has slowed.”

This census is now 10 years old and I cannot imagine things have got any better since then.  Perhaps making it easier for a young couple to marry in a church of their choosing may help to reverse (or at least slow down) this trend a little.


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