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Bishop’s Note: The Pastoral Rites
Introduction to Holy Matrimony

Alleluia! Christ is risen. 

This week in the Bishop’s Note we move on to the Pastoral Rites.  The Pastoral Rites are Holy Matrimony and the Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child. 

Before we turn to the actual rite of Holy Matrimony we are blessed in the 2019 BCP to have an explanation of biblical marriage that lays out the standard for the Anglican Church in North America. This is one of the lines of demarcation between the ACNA and other mainline denominations in the United States. Most mainline denominations have left the biblical understanding of marriage and adopted a secular understanding that has been redefined in the courts. We in the ACNA have maintained and promoted a biblical understanding of marriage that begins with marriage preparation. 

The first difference is the requirement that both the bride and groom be baptized believing Christians. St. Paul was clear in his second epistle to the church in Corinth that we should not be unequally yoked. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2. Cor. 6:14) In other churches those who are not Christians are welcome to participate in the sacrament of marriage.  Far too often this ends very poorly with either divorce if the non-Christian party is unwilling to convert or the Christian party walking away from his or her faith in order to please their partner or simply avoid conflict. 

The couple are also required to go through serious pre-marital counseling with the priest or his designee. This counseling should take place with plenty of time prior to the wedding so as to allow the couple to work together and seek to make the appropriate adjustments in their relationship. 

Below is the section “Concerning Preparation for Holy Matrimony found on page 199 – 200 of the 2019 BCP. 

Concerning Preparation for 
Holy Matrimony 

“Marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman, binding both to self-giving love and exclusive fidelity. The rite of Holy Matrimony is a worship service of the Church, in which the couple exchanges vows to uphold this covenant. They do this before God and in the presence of witnesses, who pray that God will bless their life together. 

The covenantal union of man and woman in marriage signifies the communion between Christ, the heavenly bridegroom, and the Church, his holy bride (ephesians 5:32). While all do not marry, Holy Matrimony symbolizes the union all Christians share with their Lord. 

In Holy Matrimony, God establishes and blesses the covenant between husband and wife, and joins them to live together in a communion of love, faithfulness, and peace within the fellowship of Christ and his Church. God enables all married people to grow in love, wisdom, and godliness through a common life patterned on the sacrificial love of Christ.

Great care should be taken to prepare all candidates for Holy Matrimony. 

In preparing couples for Holy Matrimony, the clergy should comply with their Provincial and Diocesan Canons, and any Diocesan Customaries. The canons expect that both candidates are baptized. It is also the responsibility of the clergy to understand local law and to consult with the Bishop should they believe themselves compelled by law to act in a manner contrary to the teaching or canons of this Church.”

Next week we’ll take a look at a brief liturgy for the signing of the Declaration of Intention.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! 

Bishop Menees

San Joaquin Anglican
April Diocesan Events canceled

April 27-29
**CANCELLED** Spring Clergy Retreat

May 21

May 31

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Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin · 1300 East Shaw Avenue #123 · Fresno, CA 93710 · USA

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