What is Christian Marriage?
Marriage is a gift of God by which men and women are established in community with one another for their own nourishment, and for the nourishment of their families. It is God’s will that the relationship of marriage reflect the depth of love which Christ has for the Church. Therefore God promises to bless, comfort and sustain those who seek him in their marriage.
The Church announces God’s promise in a liturgy which begins marriage, in which a man and a woman commit themselves to one another with life-long promises by which they bind themselves to each other as husband and wife. In this service the church prays that God will be present to bless the marriages of Christian people, and promises its love, prayer and support.
In the Lutheran tradition, the Marriage Rite is a service of worship of the church. It belongs to the whole Church, not just to the bride and the groom. Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are bound by certain guidelines for the conduct of worship which have been formulated through centuries of Christian tradition and teaching. These are not arbitrary rulings, but are a matter of the collective teaching of the Church on the matter of the true meaning of worship.
Setting the date
Those who plan to be married at First Church should first contact Christine Hoffman, Wedding Coordinator/ Parish Secretary, at email@example.com or 412-471-8125. Before the date and time for the wedding can be confirmed and set on the church calendar, the couple is required to meet in person with one of the pastors. Although every effort will be made to celebrate your marriage on the date that you select, unavoidable conflicts can and do occur. It is wise to make sure of the availability of the pastor and of the church prior to making other arrangements. Marriages are not celebrated during Lent and Holy Week because of the solemn character of that time.
Planning the Wedding
Couples should plan to meet with the pastor three times before the wedding. In these sessions, the nature of marriage, the history of the couple, and the nature and content of the marriage liturgy will be discussed. While weddings must be planned in the keeping with the practices of the church, there are many options which can be exercised to personalize the service. A service will, therefore, be designed that will truly be your own, while preserving the elements essential to a service of prayer, praise and thanksgiving. In order to ensure an ongoing personal relationship between the Church and the couple, the pastor and the church office will communicate directly with the couple regarding details of their wedding rather than through an agent such as a wedding planner or a relative. The wedding rehearsal will be conducted by the pastor. The church will provide a wedding director and/or building attendant to facilitate. Announcement of your wedding and/or general invitations to the congregation will be published in the Sunday bulletin. You may want to welcome members of the congregation to share in your joy and offer prayers on your behalf.
The presiding minister at a marriage is one of the called pastors of this congregation. Assisting ministers are welcome and may be either ordained or lay persons. Our marriage rite encourages family members, members of the wedding party, and others to carry out functions not reserved for ordained clergy.
As an outreach and extension of the ministry of this congregation, the pastor will gladly discuss marrying couples who have no prior relationship with First Church. However, the couple should understand that the wedding ceremony must be respectful of the Christian faith, Lutheran theology and practices, and the standards of First Church outlined here. Those who are already active members of another congregation are highly encouraged to be married by their pastor in their own faith community. The same requirement of three in-person pre-marital pastoral counseling sessions applies.
For the complete set of guidelines, please contact Christine Hoffman, Wedding Coordinator/Parish Secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-471-8125.