Thursday, 23 July 2009

Buy one get one free on weddings and Christenings

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You really do have to love the Church of England's attempts to increase its "relevance" – it comes up with newfangled ideas to pull itself back from the brink of its dwindling attendances, and usually just ends up attracting the ridicule of not only secularists, but also its own ministers. One recent example was a suggestion to introduce "U2charists", using U2 songs instead of hymns, and today we have a plan to introduce 2-for1 wedding and baptism ceremonies for couples getting married who have already had children.

The idea would be to baptise the kid/kids at the end of the wedding ceremony for a combined fee of £272, thereby providing a ready-made audience and a handy opportunity for all the family to (unwittingly in the case of the juniors) affirm their commitment to God. Of course, this brings with it the small problem of the Church seeming to sanction the idea (sin, some might say) of having children outside of wedlock, something Bishop Stephen Platten, chair of the liturgical commission which came up with the idea, has sought to downplay:
“This does not mean the Church is changing its teaching. This is a way for the Church to reinforce its commitment to marriage. The Church has always attempted to meet people where they are. But it has also tried to teach something of what it believes the Christian faith to be.”
But it seems plenty of Platten's colleagues disagree. If you read the Times article you'll see lots of quotes about how baptisms should be on Sunday and sex is for marriage and suchlike, but for us it's all about what the Bishop of Fulham, the Right Rev John Broadhurst, had to say:
“It is a pity they have not put in a funeral for grandma as well. What are they playing at? It seems trendy, and it reveals a complete lack of awareness of the reality of what goes on in parishes. I do not understand why they want to do it.”
We hope the Bishop is patting himself on the back, because that first sentence is pure comedy gold.