This coming weekend Hellingly church will have a stand at Blackstock Farm Wedding Fair, which is just one of the many wedding fairs happening all over Sussex.
As a church with 20 plus weddings happening in the year we don’t need to promote ourselves, but we do it because we believe in marriage. It is tremendous to be able to help many young couples to know that they could marry in church if they wanted to and there are all kinds of ways to make it happen. It also helps people to know that the church doesn’t just concentrate on doing its own thing behind high walls and closed doors!
Marriage is particularly on my mind just now having just come back with my wife from a clergy marriage weekend. Church ministry is a very odd way of life lived very much in the public eye which can expose a couple to all kinds of tensions, and having to live on a timetable that is often pretty alien to most families. For example at Christmas and Easter when families can go away on holiday clergy families are at their busiest, and often with a key member absent doing church and parish stuff.
After 29 years it did not throw up much that was new, but we did feel that it would have helped us if we had had it 20 years previously!
But it was good to meet with other couples and talk about the pressures of parish life and give each other mutual support. It also addressed the bigger picture that generally speaking marriage is not regarded in the same way as it has been in the past. The Christian view of a lifelong commitment made between a man and a woman before God can often be seen at odds with society’s view. It can often be seen as something more disposable with options being kept to trade in for newer models. That is always assuming that marriage has been the chosen means of cementing the relationship. The weekend strongly recommended marriage preparation courses, one very good one which we offer at Hellingly drawn up by the Mothers Union, and also marriage courses to help couples already married to be better at it. Many a marriage would be better, and fragile marriages saved if couples could go on such a course. A number of churches across Sussex run marriage courses and a church in Hailsham is considering running one, and there are a few around mid-Sussex and in Eastbourne. If you feel your marriage could benefit from a few tips and support then why not shop around for a course. You will not regret it!