CUSTOMARY TO HOLY MATRIMONY

CUSTOMARY ON CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
Holy Matrimony (Marriage) –

Diocesan Guidelines for the Clergy

Marriage is a COVENANT between a husband (man) and his wife (woman) before God.

“God designed marriage to be a monogamous, heterosexual, permanent, exclusive, faithful, sexually chaste, Christ-centered, Biblically-guided, loving, respectful, sacrificial, and mutually-supportive covenant relationship between a man and his wife.  Every attempt must be made, especially in times of conflict between a husband (man) and his wife (woman), to reconcile instead of divorcing.  Physical abuse must not, and will not, be condoned in this Diocese.”  Bishop Felix C. Orji, OSB

“When you get married, the state views your union as nothing more than a contract.  My two lawyer brothers have taught me that a “contract” is simply a document ultimately built on distrust between two parties where each person is primarily concerned only with his or her best interests.  God created marriage to be much more than a contract; it’s a covenant.  In a covenant, the focus isn’t on your own best interests but on the best interests of another.  It’s selfless, and it’s timeless and there’s NO exit strategy.  That’s the only way a marriage can really work, but our modern world has lost sight of this.”  Dave Willis

ALL DIOCESAN CLERGY SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH THE CANONS OF THE CHURCH REGARDING CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE (WHICH APPEAR BELOW IN THIS CUSTOMARY).  ALL DIOCESAN CLERGY ARE ALSO EXPECTED TO ADHERE TO THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES IN REGARD TO THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY MATRIMONY.

Teaching and preaching on Christian marriage –

The Biblical teaching and values of Christian marriage should be woven into sermons, teachings, and seminars in the local church on a regular basis throughout the church year.  How else can the flock and be reminded of God’s desire for marriage if the clergy does not discuss it?

Premarital counseling –

All couples married by Diocesan Clergy shall have appropriate premarital counseling, covering, at the very least, relationship with Jesus, Christian marriage, spousal communication, family finances, sexual intimacy, lifelong commitment, family history, and marital expectations.  There are numerous premarital counseling materials for Clergy to choose from, and some Clergy outsource this responsibility to local Christian counselors.  Many states offer discounted rates for marriage license fees when couples can demonstrate proof of premarital counseling.

Baptism –

If either of the parties to the proposed marriage is not baptized, the Canons require the permission of the Bishop to proceed.  To obtain his permission, Clergy must send him an e-mail request setting for the circumstances in question.

Marrying divorced persons –  

The Canons require the Bishop’s permission for a Diocesan priest to perform a marriage ceremony for a divorced person (Title III, Canon 4, Sections 1-3, of the Diocesan Canons).  Clergy must fill out the “Request for Remarriage” form (appended below) and e-mail it to the Bishop.

Blessing a civil marriage of a divorced person –

The Bishop’s approval must be obtained before Diocesan Clergy can bless the civil marriage of a person who has been divorced.  A minimum of one year must have passed before the request is made.  To obtain the Bishop’s permission, Clergy must fill out the “Request for a Blessing of a Civil Marriage of Divorced People” form (appended below) and e-mail it to the Bishop

Form of ceremony –

All marriages performed by Diocesan Clergy must adhere to the rubrics and forms provided in the Book of Common Prayer.  It is recommended that all Diocesan Clergy periodically review these rubrics.

Marriage license –

Since, for purposes of performing marriage ceremonies, Clergy also act as agents of the state, it is important for priests, after performing a marriage ceremony, to sign and return the marriage licenses to the appropriate state agency in a prompt and timely manner.

Declaration of Intent –

Clergy should remember to have the couple sign the Declaration of Intent either during premarital counseling or before the marriage ceremony (Title II, Canon 7, Section 6, of the ACNA Canons).



Conscience –

At no time should a member of the Diocesan Clergy feel obligated to perform a marriage he does not believe is appropriate.  If for pastoral reasons, a priest requires the assistance of the Bishop to say “no,” he should contact the Bishop.

Declaration of Nullity –

The Bishop may issue a Declaration of Nullity for someone married by an Anglican priest and whose marriage has been dissolved for reasons of abuse, unfaithfulness, or abandonment, according to the teachings of Holy Scripture.  A Declaration of Nullity does not signify that the marriage did not exist, but that the marriage, which was, has been declared null and void in the eyes of the Church.  To request a Declaration of Nullity on behalf of a divorced person, Clergy should complete and submit the “Request for a Declaration of Nullity of a Christian Marriage” form (appended below).

Marriage as evangelism –

Unchurched people, unbelievers, and the spiritually-complacent often present themselves for Christian marriage in our Diocesan churches.  Premarital counseling sessions and the marriage ceremony itself are great tools for evangelism, but Diocesan Clergy should not compromise the high standards for Christian marriage.  Holding others to these high standards can point them to what is holy, and/or can prick their consciences, softening them to the Gospel call.

Pastoral situations –

Clergy will always be confronted with unique pastoral situations, especially in connection with weddings.  Hold to our Christian standards, but respond to conflicts with pastoral care and concern.  Our calling is to shepherd the flock, not bludgeon with the law.

When in doubt –

When in doubt, do not hesitate to contact the Bishop or the Canon to the Ordinary.  We are here to help all Diocesan Clergy succeed in their ministries and will offer whatever counsel we can.  More importantly, we will pray with you.
Canons of the Anglican Church in North America
 (as amended, June 2017)

Title III, Canon 7 (Of Christian Marriage)

Section 1 - The Anglican Church in North America affirms our Lord’s teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman, binding both to self-giving love and exclusive fidelity.  Jesus Christ teaches that God is the author of marriage from the beginning of time.  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27; cf. Matthew 19:4-6).  God’s design for marriage has always involved one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24).  Marriage is established by God for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord; for mutual joy, and for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; to maintain purity, so that husbands and wives, with all the household of God, might serve as holy and undefiled members of the Body of Christ; and for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom in family, church, and society, to the praise of his holy Name.

Section 2 - It shall be within the discretion of any member of the Clergy to decline to solemnize any marriage.

Section 3 - Members of the Clergy of this Church shall conform to the Canons of this Church governing the solemnization of Holy Matrimony.
1.     Both parties shall be baptized.  Any exception to this requires the permission of the Bishop;
2.     There shall be thirty (30) days notice of intention to marry unless waived for weighty reasons, in which case the Bishop shall be notified immediately and in writing;
3.     The Clergy shall provide counsel to both parties on Holy Matrimony with respect to theological and social implications and responsibilities;
4.     The Clergy shall ascertain that the man and woman, parties to the marriage, have a valid marriage license.

Section 4 - As marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman in which the two become one flesh, it is both an ordinance of Creation, affirmed as such by our Lord, and commended by Saint Paul as a sign of the mystical union between Christ and His Church (Matthew 19:3-9; Ephesians 5:22-32). Therefore, the failure of a marriage is always a tragedy. Scripture acknowledges our fallen nature and does provide guidance to know when a marriage may be declared a nullity or dissolved and allows the possibility of a subsequent marriage in certain circumstances (Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7).
1.     Couples who request to be married by a member of the Clergy of this Church must have approval from their Bishop if either party has ever been divorced;
2.     When a divorced person seeks permission to remarry, the Clergy must ascertain the pertinent facts concerning a declaration of nullity or termination of marriage; and in the absence of a declaration of nullity, forward such information to the Bishop in writing for his godly advice and consent;
3.     The Diocese is responsible to create a process by which this discernment may be made with reasonable promptness.

Section 5 –

1. No Clergy knowingly, after due inquiry, shall solemnize any marriage if they have unresolved concerns regarding any of the following impediments:
(a) Consanguinity and affinity as defined in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer;
(b) Mistaken identity;
(c) Absence of the capacity for free and intelligent choice;
(d) Bigamy, evidence of sexual perversion or conviction of a sexually related crime;
(e) Fraud, coercion, abuse or duress;
(f)    Failure to conform to the teaching of this Church regarding man, woman, and marriage as set forth in the Holy Scriptures and in these Canons.
2. Any declarations of nullity may only be granted by a Bishop with jurisdiction and shall be based upon Scriptural principles including the foregoing impediments to marriage.

Section 6 - The Clergy shall require the parties to sign the following declaration:

“We, N.N. and N.N., desiring to receive the blessing of Holy Matrimony in the Church, do solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.  We believe it is established by God for the purpose of the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord; for mutual joy, and for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; to maintain purity, so that husbands and wives, with all the household of God, might serve as holy and undefiled members of the Bod of Christ; and for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom in family, church, and society, to the praise of his holy Name.  We do engage ourselves, so far as in us lies, to make our utmost effort to establish this relationship and to seek God’s help thereto.”

Section 7 - In all cases marriages shall be solemnized according to the forms contained in an authorized Book of Common Prayer, or other rite authorized by this Church and permitted by the Bishop.

Section 8 - The Clergy shall cause to be recorded in the permanent records of the congregation the name, age, and residence of each party.  Such record shall be signed by the member of the Clergy, the married parties, and at least two witnesses.


Title II, Canon 8 (Of Standards of Sexual Morality and Ethics)

Section 1 - Clergy and lay leaders of this Church are called to be exemplary in all spheres of morality as a condition of being appointed or remaining in office.

Section 2 - In view of the teaching of Holy Scripture, the Lambeth Conference of 1998 and the Jerusalem Declaration, this Church upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage, and cannot legitimize or bless same sex unions or ordain persons who engage in homosexual behavior.  Sexual intercourse should take place only between a man and a woman who are married to each other.

Section 3 - God, and not man, is the creator of human life.  The unjustified taking of life is sinful.  Therefore, all members and Clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death.

Section 4 - The Church is called upon to show Christ-like compassion to those who have fallen into sin, encouraging them to repent and receive forgiveness, and offering the ministry of healing to all who suffer physically or emotionally as a result of such sin.



REQUEST FOR REMARRIAGE

The Canons of our Province and Diocese require that the bishop must approve any marriage of a divorced person.  It should be noted that a request to the bishop for remarriage is not just for permission for the priest to marry the couple, but for the couple to get married with the blessing of the Church. It is not whether or not they can get married.  To nullify does not mean that the marriage did not exist as is the case in some traditions, but it means to declare that the marriage is dissolved because of unfaithfulness, abandonment, or abuse according to Scripture.

DATE OF WEDDING ______________________________________________

GROOM’S NAME __________________________________________________

AGE _______________    NUMBER OF MARRIAGES _____________________

BRIDE’S NAME ____________________________________________________

AGE _______________    NUMBER OF MARRIAGES _____________________

ARE BOTH BAPTIZED MEMBERS IN GOOD STANDING IN YOUR PARISH? _______________

IF NOT, PLEASE EXPLAIN SITUATION _______________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

DATE OF DIVORCE DECREE AND/OR NULLIFICATION ______________

JUDGE OR OFFICIAL'S NAME _______________________________________

REASON FOR THE DIVORCE _______________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

DESCRIBE WHY YOU AS THEIR PRIEST BELIEVE THIS COUPLE SHOULD HAVE THE BLESSING OF THE CHURCH TO REMARRY

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

DO YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE VIOLATING YOUR CONSCIENCE TO PERFORM THIS MARRIAGE? ________________

PRIEST’S NAME ___________________________________________________

PRIEST’S SIGNATURE DATE ________________________________________

BISHOP’S APPROVAL/DISAPPROVAL ________________________________

BISHOP’S SIGNATURE DATE ________________________________________


REQUEST FOR THE BLESSING OF A
CIVIL MARRIAGE OF DIVORCED PEOPLE

The Canons of our Province and Diocese require that the bishop must approve any marriage of a divorced person. In the case of divorced people asking a priest to “Bless” their Civil Marriage, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of CANA West will not consider granting permission for a priest to do the service unless one year has passed since they were married.

GROOM’S NAME, AGE __________________________________    _______

BRIDE’S NAME, AGE ___________________________________    _______

ARE BOTH BAPTIZED AND MEMBERS IN GOOD STANDING IN YOUR PARISH? _______

IF NOT, PLEASE EXPLAIN SITUATION _______________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

DATE OF CIVIL MARRIAGE ________________________________________

JUDGE OR OFFICIAL'S NAME _______________________________________

DESCRIBE WHY YOU AS THEIR PRIEST BELIEVE THIS COUPLE SHOULD HAVE THE BLESSING OF THE CHURCH ON THEIR REMARRIAGE __________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

DO YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE VIOLATING YOUR CONSCIENCE TO PERFORM THIS MINISTRY? ___________________

PRIEST’S NAME ___________________________________________________

PRIEST’S SIGNATURE DATE ________________________________________

BISHOP’S APPROVAL/DISAPPROVAL ________________________________

BISHOP’S SIGNATURE DATE ________________________________________


REQUEST FOR A DECLARATION OF NULLITY
OF A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

A Declaration of Nullity “may” be issued by the Bishop of this Diocese for someone married by an Anglican priest and whose marriage has been dissolved because of the reasons of unfaithfulness, abandonment, or abuse according to the teachings of Scripture.  A Declaration of Nullity is not saying the marriage did not exist, but that the marriage, which was, has been declared null and void on the basis of unfaithfulness, abandonment, or physical abuse.

GROOM’S NAME, AGE _________________________________    _______

BRIDE’S NAME AGE ___________________________________    _______

DATE OF MARRIAGE: ______________
 
BY WHOM AND WHERE: ___________________________________________

PERSON REQUESTING THE DECLARATION OF NULLITY:

__________________________________________________________________

HAS A DIVORCE DECREE BEEN ISSUED? IF YES, WHEN AND BY WHOM:

__________________________________________________________________

REASON PERSON IS REQUESTING A DECLARATION OF NULLITY:

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________


DESCRIBE WHY YOU AS THEIR PRIEST BELIEVE THIS PERSON SHOULD HAVE A DECLARATION OF NULLITY FOR HIS/HER MARRIAGE:

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

DO YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE VIOLATING YOUR
CONSCIENCE IN ASKING FOR THIS DECLARATION? _________________

PRIEST’S NAME ___________________________________________________

PRIEST’S SIGNATURE DATE ________________________________________

BISHOP’S APPROVAL/DISAPPROVAL ________________________________

BISHOP’S SIGNATURE DATE ________________________________________



PETITION FOR BISHOP’S CONSENT TO SOLEMNIZE
A MARRIAGE AFTER DIVORCE OR ANNULMENT

This 4-page petition requires the signatures of a CANA West priest (at the bottom of Page 2),
the intended man and woman (middle of Page 4), and the bishop of CANA West (at the
bottom of Page 4).  The priest should retain a copy of the completed form while the original completed form shall be mailed to the Bishop of CANA West.  The Bishop must receive the petition, completed and signed, not less than 90 days prior to the planned wedding date.  If the bishop grants his consent, the original form will be returned with his signature for the Parish files.  Please print clearly.


DATE OF PETITION __________ / __________ / __________

PRIEST’S FULL NAME ______________________________________________

PRIEST’S E-MAIL ADDRESS _________________________________________

PRIEST’S WORK PHONE _______________ CELL PHONE  _______________

PARISH NAME _____________________________________________________

PARISH MAILING ADDRESS ________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

I, the above-named priest, submit this petition to the Bishop of CANA West, for his consent to solemnize the marriage of the following man and woman:

MAN’S FULL NAME AND MARITAL STATUS

__________________________________________________________________

 Never married      Widowed      Divorced      Prior marriage annulled
WOMAN’S FULL NAME AND MARITAL STATUS



 Never married      Widowed      Divorced      Prior marriage annulled


Check Yes or No for each of the following questions.  Attach a full explanation for each “No” response.

At least 365 days have elapsed since the date(s) of the final decree(s) of divorce/annulment.  Y    N  

The planned wedding date is at least 90 days away.  Y    N  

I have met in person with this couple.  Y    N  

If either this man or this woman has had two or more marriages dissolved (by divorce or annulment), then I have received a report from a psychiatrist or licensed professional counselor which satisfies any substantive concerns I may have.  Y    N  

Forward this form the Bishop’s Office, c/o Venerable Dr. Myles Calvin for review.
Y    N  

Are both individuals baptized?  Y    N  

I believe this couple intends a Christian marriage according to the canons of this church.  Y    N  

I am satisfied that this couple intends to live out their marriage with the support of a Christian congregation.  Y    N  

I believe the marriage of this couple will be a demonstrable sign of the
spiritual union between Christ and his Church.  Y    N  

This couple has completed or will complete a program of pre-marital counseling satisfactory to me.  Y    N  

I am satisfied that this man and this woman have realistically faced and evaluated the causes that resulted in the dissolution of prior marriages.  Y    N  

I am satisfied that this man and this woman have the adequate consideration for prior spouses and any dependents.  Y    N  

I am satisfied that this couple has the ability to handle any personal differences (e.g., regarding ethnicity, religious discipline, age, income, patterns of conflict) in a biblical and healthy manner.  Y    N  

I am satisfied that this couple has the ability to handle any differences regarding surviving dependents (e.g., disposition of assets, property,
and other estate planning) in a Biblical and healthy manner.  Y    N  

I am either the senior ranking Clergy person of this congregation OR I
have obtained approval to officiate at this wedding.  Y    N  

If the couple has requested other Clergy to officiate at their wedding, I
have contacted said Clergy.  Y    N  

I am willing to officiate at this wedding, if consent is granted.  Y    N  

I have examined the final decree(s) of divorce/annulment and find the prior marriage(s) lawfully dissolved.    Y    N     (Please send copies of these final decrees to the Diocesan Office.)

All matters of property and custody related to the previous marriage(s) have been settled.  Y    N  




SIGNATURE OF PRIEST ____________________________________________

DATE OF SIGNATURE _____________________________________________


If any of the answers to the above questions is “No,” please explain the reasons in the space below or attach a full statement on a separate sheet of paper.
Please also attach a statement or include a summary below, describing details of previous marriages and the causes for divorce or annulment.

















DECLARATION OF INTENT

We, desiring to receive the blessing of Holy Matrimony in the Church, do solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in The Holy Bible, The Book of Common Prayer [1662] and in the canons of this diocese [CANA West].  We believe that 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 Jesus Christ.

We do commit and engage ourselves to establish this relationship according to God’s Holy Word and therefore ask God to be our helper.

MAN’S SIGNATURE ________________________________________________

WOMAN’S SIGNATURE _____________________________________________

Clergy, mail the original completed four-page petition to your CANA Bishop.  When returned with Bishop’s signature, make and keep a copy for your parish records.







BISHOP’S CONSENT

DATE OF BISHOP’S CONSENT ________ / _________ / ________  

BISHOP’S PRINTED NAME __________________________________________

BISHOP’S SIGNATURE ______________________________________________