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Diocesan Handbook

Supplement 7: Concerning Marriage

1  Extract from Regulations concerning marriage and the divorced

passed in the Upper and Lower Houses of Canterbury Convocation in May 1957 and declared an Act of Convocation on 1st October 1957; see Canon B30

1 That this House reaffirms the following four Resolutions of 1938, and in place of Resolution 5 then provisionally adopted by the Upper House substitutes Resolution 2 (A) below, which restates the procedure generally followed since 1938.

(1) That this House affirms that according to God's will, declared by Our Lord, marriage is in its true principle a personal union, for better or for worse, of one man with one woman, exclusive of all others on either side, and indissoluble save by death.

(2) That this House also affirms as a consequence that re-marriage after divorce during the lifetime of a former partner always involves a departure from the true principle of marriage as declared by Our Lord.

(3) That in order to maintain the principle of lifelong obligation which is inherent in every legally contracted marriage and is expressed in the plainest terms in the Marriage Service, the Church should not allow the use of that Service in the case of anyone who has a former partner still living.'

(4) That while affirming its adherence to Our Lord's principle and standard of marriage as stated in the first and second of the above resolutions, this House recognizes that the actual discipline of particular Christian Communions in this matter has varied widely from time to time and place to place, and holds that the Church of England is competent to enact such a discipline of its own in regard to marriage as may from time to time appear most salutary and efficacious.'

2  Solemnization of marriage by deacons

Guidelines issued jointly by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York; see Canon B 35

1 The minister officiating at a marriage service in the Church of England should normally be a bishop or a priest (1).

2 A deacon may officiate at a marriage only if the consent of the incumbent and/or minister is first given (2).

3 The authorized services should be used without variation whether the officiating minister is bishop, priest or deacon.

4 When a priest is present he may delegate to a deacon parts of the service including:

(a) the blessing of the ring(s);

(b) the pronouncement of the blessing(s) on the couple.

The priest should pronounce the blessing of the congregation at the end of the service.


1 Where the incumbent or minister has colleagues who are in holy orders (priests as well as deacons) the decision as to who should solemnize the marriage of a particular couple belongs to the incumbent or minister. Consideration should be given to the wishes of the couple and there should be discussion at the parish staff meeting or other consultation between colleagues. In considering who should be the officiating minister, pastoral considerations are important. A significant factor may be that the person who is to solemnize the marriage should also have prepared the couple for the wedding; in the case of a newly ordained deacon (man or woman) it needs to be noted that training to undertake marriage preparation is at present primarily a post-ordination task and colleges and courses do not require students to develop skills in this area before ordination. In the first year following ordination as deacon therefore, a deacon should rarely, if ever, solemnize a marriage and should only do so for exceptional reasons.

1  Reference to the incumbent and minister mean the incumbent of the parish to which the deacon is licensed and minister means minister or priest-in-charge of the church in which the service is to take place.

+ George Cantuar;  + John Ebor

July 1992

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