aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,
aefenglommung
aefenglommung

O, promise me

Dear _____:

I am the pastor of Ellettsville First United Methodist Church. I am responding to your inquiries regarding scheduling a wedding at EFUMC. Let me start out by saying, Congratulations on your engagement. I hope that all your dreams can come true, not only for your wedding, but for the marriage you are beginning.

The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church assigns responsibility for weddings to the pastor of the church. They are performed at his sole discretion. That sounds a bit forbidding, but it isn’t intended to be. It just means that performing weddings (including using our facilities for that purpose) is a pastoral service, not a commercial transaction. There are some fees and rules of usage, of course, but having your wedding at EFUMC is not a matter of “renting the church.”

In this regard, the Church and the clergy are different from all other vendors and professionals you will be working with in planning your wedding. The florist doesn’t really care about the level of your self-awareness and how that will affect your hopes for the future. The caterer is not concerned with how you and your mate will address the inevitable problems you will have in building a life together. The photographer does not see encouraging you in your relationship with God as part of his business. But all of these things are part of what we address in the pre-marital counseling that we hope will contribute to the success of your marriage and your fulfillment as individual persons. We care not only about the ceremony, but also (and more importantly), about YOU. And we will care about you long after the big day is over.

So, the general answer to your inquiry is, Yes, we perform weddings for non-members. The church seats 200 comfortably, and Rogers Hall is available for receptions. The organ is wonderful, and so is our organist. I would be happy to talk with you about the possibility of having your wedding here at EFUMC. That said, I cannot commit to doing any wedding until I have had a chance to meet with the couple, and I generally don’t schedule non-member weddings more than six months in advance (in order not to inconvenience members and leaders of the congregation in their use of the facilities).

You may reach me by phone or e-mail to set up a time to meet, or you could just set up the appointment with me on a Sunday morning during fellowship time.

Sincerely yours,

I finally wrote this all down and sent it after the umptieth time of trying to explain it to young people (and sometimes, their mothers or grandmothers) who want to schedule a wedding with a telephone call and are surprised (and sometimes, offended) that that means they have to come talk with me in person. My intention is not to offend, of course, but trying to explain church stuff to unchurched people is sometimes very difficult. We want to be winsome and helpful, but conforming to some of their expectations is not loving them, but merely humoring them, and there's a difference. And to give in to the consumer culture and make our ministry into a straight fee-for-service deal is merely the sin of simony.
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