Making God's Love Known In Windsor
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Please get in touch if you would like any further information or if you wish to receive a Zoom invitation. Those of you who already subscribe to our mailing list will receive full details as for our regular Sunday services.
All those visiting the church for private prayer or attending a service must:
wear an appropriate face covering which covers their face and mouth (unless medically exempt);
Whilst in church you should not chat/mingle with anyone outside your household group or bubble. Singing by the congregation is not permitted. From 17 May: attendance at weddings is limited to a maximum of 30 people; and funeral services can be attended by the 'COVID-secure' capacity of the church. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 should stay at home as much as possible and observe social distancing guidance, and it is advisable not to attend church in person during this time.
Evening prayer Monday to Friday 6 p.m. and Night prayer Sunday 9 p.m. will be live streamed from our Facebook page.
Last month an important change in the way in which weddings are registered came into force in England. Marriages are no longer recorded in the large green Registers which for 200 years or so have been used to register that the marriage has taken place legally and properly according to the law of the land. The Marriage Registration System has moved online and records will now be held electronically. There will still be a photo opportunity for the newly married couple as a Marriage Document has to be signed and witnessed and, in churches, a special Register of Marriage Services will be maintained for historic reasons. The new legislation also allows for the first time for the names of mothers as well as fathers to be recorded and provides space for step parents as well as biological parents.
The changes effect only the registration of the marriage. Everything else remains the same and Church of England clergy retain their historic privilege of being registrars for the purpose of weddings which take place in church.
A church has always been so much more than a venue for a wedding and this will remain the case. Research suggests that couples who marry in church do so because, even if they are not regular churchgoers, they sense that there is something about a church wedding which is unique and special. In my experience the strength of the spiritual dimension of a church wedding may well be something which the couple do not expect or fully appreciate until the day itself. They are often moved in a way they were not anticipating.
I think this is partly because the words of the Marriage Service are beautiful. They are a celebration of love; the couple’s love for each other and God’s love for them. It always gives me much joy to say the sentence of scripture which begins the service, setting the tone for what follows:
God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them (1 John 4.16)
The liturgy of the Marriage Service retains a wonderful dignity and gives due reverence to the place that marriage still has in our common life. The Preface which is read at the start of every service includes these words:
“Marriage is a sign of unity and loyalty which all should uphold and honour. It enriches society and strengthens community. No-one should enter into it lightly or selfishly but reverently and responsibly in the sight of almighty God.”
These are strong and important words which speak to both the couple, and their family and friends.
I have spoken the marriage vows many, many times as couples repeat them after me but they never fail to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. They have a rhythm and structure which is beautiful and timeless, and they can only be exchanged inside a church.
to have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part;
according to God’s holy law
And at the end, before the newly married couple are sent out down the aisle and into the world, we pray for them; that their marriage might be life-giving and life-long, and that strengthened by God’s grace they might bring comfort and confidence to each other.
Sadly, not all marriages are life-giving and life-long, and they can fail for all sorts of reasons. As a former divorce lawyer I can certainly attest to that. But I firmly believe that looking to God for help and guidance at the beginning of married life together and asking for his blessing must surely give couples a head start.
May the God of all love bless you and keep you,
The Reverend Canon Sally Lodge
To find out more about marrying in church, visit https://www.yourchurchwedding.org
Come join us!
You are welcome to join us at St Stephen and St Agnes, regardless of race or gender or sexuality. We are part of the Church of England and our worship style is modern catholic: this means the service uses contemporary English, but still has ritual and incense (‘smells and bells’). Due to COVID19, services do not currently finish with coffee or sherry, but we hope to restart these when possible. There is a Fairtrade stall selling a variety of goods from Traidcraft (chocolate, biscuits, tea, coffee, rice, Christmas cards later in the year, etc.)
There are areas in the church that make it easy for parents with prams or people in wheelchairs to join the worship. Our congregation age ranges from babies to 98-year-olds. On the first Sunday of the month (outside of COVID-19), we have a family service with home-baked cakes. Study and discussion groups are available throughout the year with special courses run during Advent and Lent.
We are committed to safeguarding children, young people, and vulnerable adults. The parochial church council has adopted the Church of England’s policies and best practice on safeguarding which may be found on the Church of England’s website. Our Parish Safeguarding Representative is Laura Betteridge and she may be contacted at church or by email.