Whenever God brings two people together, it is a spectacular moment. The love of married couples and their families reflects the deep, personal love of God for His people in concrete and beautiful ways. When a couple announces their engagement, there is excitement in the air. Many are the thoughts regarding setting the date, reserving the church and the hall, selecting formal wear and all the other arrangements of a wedding. Yet there is a deeper, more mysterious dimension to Christian marriage, because Christ has raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, a covenant between husband and wife, a living reflection of God’s love for His people.
In the days, months and years of sharing life together, God’s power and grace lives within them and works through them. Confident of this presence, the married couple can experience tremendous joy, in spite of the difficulties and pressures coming to bear upon family life in our time. The sacrifice and hard work of a married couple loving each other in Christ is the essential element for the stability of family life so necessary in the world today.
Grace Church acknowledges a sacred duty to help prepare people for the sacrament of marriage. As a couple arrives at the point of engagement, the Church reminds them that their love is not only a gift to be shared with each other, but also a gift that will contribute to the building up of a community of love in their families, neighborhoods, places of work and throughout the world. Through their decision to love each other, they are called to follow the example of Christ.
With this understanding of the sacrament of marriage in mind, in a spirit of love and support, Grace Church offers to assist engaged couples as they prepare to enter the sacramental covenant of marriage. The decision to marry is formalized on the wedding day, and is a commitment that lasts a lifetime.
When a couple decides to marry, they should personally contact the Pastor of Grace Church at least six months before the planned wedding date. This contact can certainly be made even earlier than this and should be made before any definite arrangements concerning the date and place of the wedding and reception are finalized.
In the first meeting, the Pastor will help the couple to assess their readiness for marriage. This pastoral dialogue will assist the couple in their understanding of the obligations and the life-long commitment of marriage. A definite wedding date is set as soon as the couple is assessed as ready for marriage. A longer preparation period has been established as a means of providing the couple with adequate time in which to reflect upon the sacredness of marriage, and to prepare themselves for both the joy and responsibility of sharing married life together.
The sacrament of marriage at Grace Church is provided in a spirit of pastoral ministry and loving concern. Since family life is one of the most precious and treasured values on earth, Grace Church offers assistance to those contemplating marriage. Ultimately, marriage in the Christian faith is a sacramental union instituted to build up the people of God through the sanctification of daily life.
Through Christian marriage God enters into an intimate personal relationship with His people. The couple contemplating marriage is indeed a precious gift of God to His people – a living, loving reflection of His great love for us all. It is essential that this gift be treasured and nurtured. In this way, all of us share in the ministry of Christ who came to reveal God’s plan of unity and love among his people.
The wedding service is an occasion for worship. The wedding day is an occasion for joy. We at Grace Church believe that it is important for the bride and groom to share in planning the day and the service. The Pastor will help you with the service, readings and rehearsal. Your participation in the planning will make the day more significant to you.
Before solemnizing a marriage, the Minister must receive certificates of the intention of the parties to be married. Both candidates must apply in person for a marriage license. This requirement is applicable to both residents and non-residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Massachusetts law states that you must jointly file intentions to marry and you may do so with any city or town clerk in the state.
There is a mandatory three day waiting period. Sundays and holidays are included in the waiting period, but the day the application is made is not. When you apply, be sure to bring with you the $15 fee, certificates of birth and a medical certificate that has been obtained within the past 30 days.
The license and church fees must be given to the Pastor at the rehearsal. Under no circumstances can the marriage ceremony begin until these are received by the Pastor.
© 2016 Grace Church of Dover