Every March and September our local newspaper, the Press, publishes a liftout Wedding Directory (called “I do“) along with the daily newspaper. Twenty A3 pages very attractively present hints, lists, articles, venues, jewellery, dresses, cakes, flowers, etc. In every previous liftout there has been a church presence, an article, and/or parish or diocesan advertisements. As these have become fewer and fewer, I have always taken the effort to contact those who put them in, and commend them. This March edition … absolutely no church presence. No clerical collar, no alb or stole, not even a reference in the articles on “Keeping costs down” or “Beat the wedding stress”. 20 pages, 19 articles, 67 advertisements, not one – count them… – not one by any church. From any denomination.

The word “church” is not mentioned once in the 20 pages. There isn’t even an allusion to church in the article on “customs and traditions”.

With the Roman Catholic Church increasingly embroiled in the greatest scandal since the Middle Ages and it getting step by step closer to the pope himself, with the Anglican Church tearing itself apart with the question – are we going to let gay people be committed to each other in a way that heterosexuals regularly have difficulty maintaining? one might have thought that the opportunity to proclaim a positive message about sex and marriage would be grasped by the church with both hands… but NO we appear to be caught like a rabbit in the headlights impotent (oops!) to present ourselves to the secular public with anything positive to say.

Tell me the last time that you walked into a randomly selected parish church building and found an attractively presented brochure invitingly explaining how you can get married there.

And if you think that the church has abandoned promoting marriage via print and has moved into the 21st century and is doing this on the web, join me in searching google.co.nz using the words “marriage”, or “wedding”, or even “church wedding” and count the number of answers you get before you get to a church wedding page. [Oh yes the “church wedding” search looked hopeful, with the top hit being “Church of the Good Shepherd New Zealand wedding venue” – it’s actually for something called “the wedding company” (& check the price-tag)]

Further reflection: inexpensive wedding

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