July 2011

“Turn away from the church” Perhaps the oddest line of the day – our daughter Emma was marrying Carl, and as we drove out of the Rectory gate, I reminded our driver that we were driving away from the church – so that Emma could arrive in the car as she wanted, photographs and all, having travelled more than 50 yards.In February 2010, she announced their engagement, and the months to May 28 this year have been filled with planning.Everything was planned and executed at best price (Carl has a businessman’s mind – even the table lighthouse centre pieces from a charitable lighthouse shop came with a discount), and almost everything went to plan.You can’t plan for the guest minister to drive 102 miles for the rehearsal, then return that evening to collect the forgotten flower-girl dresses for his daughters, but what a star!Carefully ordered matching bears for the smallest children, left out of the photographs.And the weather! Normally reliably sunshine turned dull and very blustery – the carefully cultivated Rectory garden was hardly needed, the hastily provided drinks in the shelter of the hall much appreciated…And yes! – I couldn’t have been prouder as I walked Emma up the aisle

All four of our children’s weddings have been wonderful and joyful family celebrations, enhanced and given deeper meaning and purpose by the presence and blessing of our heavenly Father. But then, that’s how we try to care for all the weddings at All Hallows.The wedding is planned with you in the run up to the wedding, we help you to think about being married as well as getting married, and there is a full rehearsal the day before, so that on the day, the celebration begins in the ceremony, not after it, as if it were just a dry legal ceremony.The hour long celebration often involves over 20 church members and is normally the culmination of at least 10 hours spent together with the couple.Weddings are part of the celebration of life, a life which is the gift of God, and should be celebrated in his presence.Anyone living in, or has lived in, the parish has a right to hold their marriage in the church – it is even sometimes possible to celebrate a second marriage in church.We are happy to discuss your wedding plans and to see how we can help you celebrate life. As Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (The Bible, John 10.10)

In the same way, we are privileged to hold the funeral service of your loved one in church, giving the time and space to hold a dignified and personal service of celebration of their life, without rushing out to make space for the next group of mourners.It’s even possible to hold the whole service in church (a service of committal in church) where the prayers of committal are said during the service, the deceased then being taken for the cremation, but the family staying for prayers, able to meet all those celebrating their loved one’s life, and meeting later at the interment of their cremated remains, the final resting place.Again, anyone living in the parish or dying in the parish has a right to have their funeral in church, and in practice we’ve never turned any request down from beyond the parish.Weddings and Funerals don’t even include a creed, a statement of faith, as it is not a requirement to receive the service.In contrast, Baptisms, are based around the profession of faith by the parents and godparents as they present their child and promise to bring him/her up in the light of their publically declared faith.

It is our joy to be with you at these key moments in life, as we celebrate the life God gave us in birth, marriage and at death in retrospect.Jesus himself was baptised, attended a wedding and a funeral, and invests these moments with a deeper significance, pointing us on to the re-birth by faith (“I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” [Jesus, The Bible, John 3.3]), the eternal relationship God desires with His people (“The bride (the church) belongs to the bridegroom (Christ)” [John, The Bible, John 3.29), and the life beyond death in the resurrection won by Jesus (“I am going there to prepare a place for you” [Jesus, The Bible, John 14.2]).That is why we are pleased to share these key moments with you, to help give them both dignity and celebration, to bring them into the presence of our life-giving and loving Father, and to point on to the still greater life and joy he wants us to share in his Son, Jesus Christ.You only have to ask!

Praying that you might celebrate with joy and gladness all that the good Father has given us, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, may find truly the abundance of life in all its fullness.

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,