Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rector's Rambling - February 20, 2011

Last week I wrote about baptisms, and today I am musing upon the Sacrament of Matrimony. St. John’s is a popular place to have a wedding! The beautiful building, ideal downtown location, and classic service attracts people and gives them a desire to be married here. But sometimes it is these very externals which, having attracted them, prevent them, perhaps, from understanding the theological importance of the sacrament.
We get upwards of 25 calls a year from people interested in being married at St. John’s. A great number just want to “rent the church” for a ceremony, and end their inquiry as soon as we let them know we expect them to become members and attend for at least six months before their wedding service. But a fair number of people do come, and put in this minimal amount of effort.
In my 10 years, of the 52 marriages I have performed, 16 couples now live out of state or over an hour away from St. John’s. Seven couples come regularly and three occasionally. Four couples have actively transferred to another parish. Five couples (that I know of) have divorced (none of whom continued to attend St. John’s after their wedding).
That leaves 17 more couples who attended here, were married here, and have stopped attending after their wedding (many never returned after the wedding ceremony). Despite phone calls, e-mails, and notes, they have made a decision to stay away. One of the few who did bother to respond to my contacts was honest enough to let me know they felt they had “put in their time” but didn’t feel they needed to go to Church anymore.
The ministry of performing weddings can be a great blessing, and sometimes a frustration as well, for me and the many volunteers who help with this ministry. But I thank God for the opportunity to do them, and pray that the Lord will move hearts and minds to keep Him at the center of these couples married lives and active in His Church.