A Sacrament

The Episcopal Church regards marriage as one of the seven Sacraments of the Church. The Book of Common Prayer says of marriage:

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God. (BCP 1979, Page 423)

At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, we believe marriage is a joyful event and a sacrament. It is a public proclamation of the love between two people, and the blessing of Christ on that union. We celebrate marriage as a sign of love and a blessing of that union.

Michael Sizemore & Stefani Tolar with Fr. Funston

The Blessing of a Marriage at St. Paul's Parish
Michael & Stefani Tolar with Fr. Funston

As a consequence, weddings at St. Paul’s Parish conform to the normal practices of the Episcopal Church and, within that practice, we welcome the marriage here of members of other denominations and faiths. We expect that our Episcopal traditions and practices will be respected; likewise, we will respect the practices and traditions of other faiths. In cases where clergy of different denominations are co-celebrating, each tradition is respected in the ceremony.

Church Membership

The Church is not to be viewed as a “set” against which weddings are staged. The Church is the Body of Christ in which a couple’s married life is expected to be a living and loving part. Therefore, either the bride-to-be and/or the groom-to-be should be worshipping at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (or belong to a family which is active in the parish) before any part of the pre-marital counseling or planning of a wedding service begins.

It is important that you consult the church office before you finalize and announce a date for your wedding. Too often couples will book a reception hall, florist, and wedding cake baker only to find that the church space is unavailable. The church office, therefore, should be the first call rather than the last. A minimum of 60 days notice is required by Church Law and, if there is a previous divorce in the relationship, the process will take at least four months to complete, and often much longer.

A pamphlet of information about planning a wedding, including the costs of counseling and the fees, gratuities, and stipends associated with the service, is available from the church office. Contact the Parish Manager at 330-725-4131.

Required Pre-Marital Counseling

The Episcopal Church forbids its ministers from solemnizing any marriage until it is ascertained that the couple may legally be married; that the couple understand “that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union, entered into within the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind, and will, and with intent that it be lifelong”; that both individuals freely consent to the marriage; that at least one of the two have received Holy Baptism; and that the couple to be married have been instructed as to the nature and purpose of Holy Matrimony.

Too often couples approach pre-marital counseling with great trepidation and “fear of the unknown.” Please don’t! The sessions are intended to be helpful, not a hindrance. Marriage holds the promise of great joy, but there are many obstacles to having a successful lifelong relationship. Normally, you should plan on three sessions with each session lasting about an hour and a half. During these sessions, expect to discuss how you met and fell in love; family and friends; the nature of your relationship; your hopes and expectations; how you use your time together and apart; your future together, including children; finances and employment; and your wedding plans.

It is preferred that these counseling sessions take place Monday through Thursday during regular office hours (8:30 am to 1:30 pm). Evening appointments on Monday or Tuesday are sometimes available depending upon the church’s schedule. For couples from out of state, some appointments can be made on Sunday afternoons following the latter church service.

Same-Sex Couples

The Episcopal Church has come to realize that local Episcopal faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions. A resolution passed at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2003 stated that we are still finding our way on this matter and are not yet of one mind. A second resolution passed at the General Convention in 2009 authorized our bishops to respond pastorally to the needs of same-sex couples, including the authorization of services for blessings same-sex unions. The current Bishop of Ohio has done so. Here at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, all persons desiring a blessing of their union are also asked to participate in counseling with our clergy, to submit all required forms and to respect the practices of the Episcopal church.