History was made this summer at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ont., with a unique interfaith wedding, the officiating clerics say.
On August 29, Capt. Georgette Mink, a physiotherapist in the Canadian military, was married to Ahmad Osman, a soldier in the Lebanese army. Although technically a Christian marriage, it was attended by representatives from both the Christian and Muslim religions, and was followed by a Muslim blessing of the couple.
Capt. the Rev. Dwayne Bos, the Anglican padre who officiated, said he believes other weddings may have been done in the Canadian military involving Christians and non-Christians-he has heard of some involving one Wiccan partner, for example. But the fact that clerics from both faith traditions co-performed the liturgy made this one unique, he said.
“From what we understand and know, this would be the first one of this type that’s ever been done in the Canadian Forces,” he said.
Bos said Mink, who has been a parishioner at CFB Borden’s Trinity Chapel for some time, approached him earlier this year about her intention to marry Osman, and asked if the ceremony could be performed jointly involving a Muslim cleric.
“I said, ‘I’ll look into that-I haven’t heard of something like this being done, but that doesn’t mean no,’ ” Bos said.
Bos’s bishop gave his approval to the marriage, and directed Bos to the Book of Occasional Celebrations, which contains a section on interfaith marriages. Bos then invited the base’s Muslim padre, Imam Suleyman Demiray, to take part.
“I said, ‘Look, of course, this is a great idea!’ ” Demiray said.
Bos also contacted the Anglican Church of Canada’s faith, worship and ministry department-which was able to provide him with an Arabic translation of the service.
Most of the ceremony was officiated in English by Bos, following Anglican rites and reading the famous passage on love from 1st Corinthians. Demiray helped Osman say, in Arabic, his vows and the words for the exchanging of rings with Mink, and blessed the couple.
“I was there just to bless them and to support them…mainly Padre Bos was the boss there,” Demiray punned, with a chuckle.
At Osman’s request, Demiray also chanted a passage from the Qur’an-its opening chapter known as Fatiha, comparable to the Christian Lord’s Prayer, he said, in that Muslims say it in their daily prayers. It praises God as merciful and compassionate and asks for his guidance in our lives.
“It was nice, because we were both there at the front for the service,” Bos said. “It really blended well to represent both the faith traditions.”
“I got so many feedbacks, even from the non-Muslims,” says Demiray. “They said, ‘This was great, this is amazing.’ Chanting was, for them, new. They said ‘Wow, your voice is good; you’re chanting well!’ ”
Osman, Demiray said, was amazed by the joint service. “He saw how we are welcoming and supporting him, both Christian and Muslim. He was so surprised and so happy, so pleased.”
Mink and Osman were not available for interviews at press time.