Churches to Relax Wedding Rules amid Decline in Anglican Marriages

The Church of England Synod has looked at proposals to make it easier for people to take part in church marriages.

The Church of England Synod has looked at proposals to make it easier for people to take part in church marriages. The new plans considered would allow couples to marry in the church of their choice.

|PIC1|The topic was brought up after alarm was raised over the steep decline in the number of church weddings. In response the Church of England is proposing to relax the rules for marriage that say the bride or groom must live or worship in a parish in order to use its church.

Some clerics have felt that the move was vital to reverse the decline in weddings in Anglican churches, said BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott.

Weddings in Anglican churches have halved in the last 20 years, and couples who wish to marry in a parish where neither one lives or worships, must currently seek a special licence.

The Synod has already given its backing to the “demonstrable connection” option, which would allow people to get married in parishes where they were born, brought up or have some other “connection” with.

Some clergy have in the past insisted couples who wish to marry in their parish church must first attend a number of services.

Other qualifications could be having attended a local school or by having a relative as a regular member of the congregation.

|AD|The Church of England governing body it is due to vote at its York meeting on whether couples should be able to marry anywhere they choose.

Dean of Wakefield, the Very Reverend George Nairn-Briggs, who is a member of the Church's marriage law working group, said, “Couples these days say they do not necessarily want to get married in the area in which they live.

“People have become more mobile and we want to reflect that. Since the civil law changed and people have been able to get married in other places the numbers marrying in churches have dropped.”

The main opposition against the proposals stem from concern within the Church that churches in more attractive areas would be booked full, while others would attract little, and some, no interest.

Whatever changes are agreed by the Synod are not likely to be introduced until 2007, after a government review of civil registration ceremonies.

Other motions the Synod was looking at were to call on the government to reinstate the married couples allowance; a debate on whether t

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