Should clergy perform marriages?

Published June 1, 2011

“There is no assumption there will be a resolution one way or the other,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz.

A small group of bishops will lay the groundwork for a discussion of marriage within the life of the church at the November House of Bishops meeting in Niagara Falls.

The impetus for this discussion is a General Synod request to the faith, worship and ministry committee to consider the implications of having Anglican clergy cease to solemnize marriages. The committee asked the House of Bishops to comment. “There is no assumption there will be a resolution one way or the other,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Driving the request is the reality that far fewer marriages today are performed in church buildings, even when a member of clergy officiates. Furthermore, in a country where same-sex marriage is legal, “the church has a concern whether it is blessing unions or marriages,” said Archbishop Hiltz.

At the April meeting in Niagara Falls, “There was not much appetite for the discontinuation of the solemnization of marriage. Bishop after bishop spoke of marriage discussions as solid opportunities for evangelism and pastoral care that lead to growing the parish family,” Archbishop Hiltz said. Recalling their experiences as priests, the bishops noted that first visits by couples who want to be married and then take marriage preparation turn into pastoral relationships that grow parish membership. Ω


  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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