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Friday, December 9, 2016
CoE offers baptism with wedding ceremony
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The Church of England has invited cohabiting couples to come to church to get married - and have their children baptised at the same time.

The decision was made after research by the Archbishops’ Council’s Weddings Project 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.

In a statement the Church of England said: “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 Anglican Bishop of Fulham, the Right Reverend John Broadhurst, has called the new rules "patronising", and says they reflect a lack of pastoral experience.

Other members of the clergy have welcomed them, however. The Reverend 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."

Source: CoE Comms

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