St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Galena Illinois
We recognize marriage as a way of life created, blessed, and sustained by God. Marriage often becomes the foundation for larger family life, also. The Lutheran understanding of marriage does not require that a ceremony be performed by an ordained minister; marriage is a gift of God which he has not limited to believers. Therefore, when persons desire to be married in the church sanctuary by the pastor of the church, the church assumes that the couple shares its basic beliefs about God and about marriage in the sight of God. Otherwise, a civil ceremony would be the couple’s appropriate choice.
The Christian tradition holds a high view of marriage. This view originates in the Old Testament, and comes to its greatest expression in Jesus’ teaching about marriage in the Gospels. In other parts of the New Testament we find Jesus’ teaching elaborated by the Apostles. Faithfulness to Jesus’ teaching is our goal in helping couples enter marriage in the context of the Christian faith and the Lutheran tradition.
For this reason we normally require counseling sessions between the couple and the church’s pastor before a wedding is scheduled. This provides a way for the pastor to assist the couple as they move toward marriage, especially as concerns the faith dimension of married life. The counseling sessions also provide the pastor with the knowledge required to determine whether to perform the wedding. This is not meant to sound harsh or judgmental, but the reality is that some persons desire to use the services of the church without any real commitment to its beliefs and values. Therefore, we must reserve the right to schedule weddings only after the counseling sessions have resulted in the pastor’s consent to the wedding.
Inactive members and non-members are encouraged to renew their commitment to the Lord and His church. Otherwise the significance of marriage within the church is diminished.
Weddings will ordinarily be held in the church sanctuary. Non-members are asked to make a contribution for the use of the church building in the amount of $200. An additional $50 is the fee for our custodian who cleans the church following weddings. The church organist has a set fee as well. The pastor does not set a fee; you may do as you wish. Normally, the church’s organist and pastor will conduct all weddings. Exceptions can be made, but they should be approved at the time of the counseling sessions. When another minster is present who will actually perform the wedding rite, that minister must be a member a pastor certified by Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, and the pastor of St. Matthew will usually take part in the wedding, also. We do welcome the participation of other Christian clergy within the wedding ceremony, whether Lutheran or not. We also encourage couples to involve their friends and family members as attendants, readers, musicians, ushers, flower girls, ring bearers, etc.
Couples who desire to be married at St. Matthew Lutheran Church should first understand these policies, and then proceed to arrange counseling with the pastor.