The Service

The Christian Service of Marriage
The Service
Presiding Minister
Readings
Music


The Christian Service of Marriage

At Fourth Presbyterian Church, weddings are occasions of both joy and reverence—joy because of the gifts of love and happiness that two people have found in each other, and reverence because of the deep commitment they have made to live out their vows under the grace of God. The staff of Fourth Presbyterian Church is eager to help make your wedding a lovely and meaningful event and asks your careful attention to the following guidelines. Because the church receives many wedding requests, these guidelines are necessary to facilitate planning and to provide clarity both for you and for the church.

The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) includes the following principals regarding marriage and weddings in the church:

Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage is a civil contract. . . . For Christians, marriage is a covenant . . . before God to live out together their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage, a lifelong commitment is made . . . , publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith.

The Christian marriage ceremony is a service of worship before God, normally conducted within the church. Dignity will be expected on the part of all present, and the service shall be under the sole direction of the presiding minister.

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The Service

A wedding at Fourth Presbyterian Church is an act of worship. Thus, the wedding service will be conducted according to the liturgy found in the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship and the guidelines established by the Worship, Music, and Arts Committee of the Session of Fourth Presbyterian Church. It is appropriate for the service to include special music, hymns, Scripture readings, and a brief homily by the minister. The presiding minister will review the order of service and appropriate options with the couple.

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Presiding Minister

A minister on the staff of Fourth Presbyterian Church will be the presiding minister at all weddings. The presiding minister from Fourth Presbyterian Church has primary responsibility for the order and conduct of the wedding service. Other clergy may participate at the invitation of the presiding minister. If you wish to include an assisting minister who is not on the staff of Fourth Presbyterian Church, please make your request to the wedding coordinator and the presiding minister.

Fourth Presbyterian Church is a faith community that holds as an essential part of its witness that God calls people to ordained ministry regardless of their age, gender, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation. The assignment of ministers to perform marriages is undertaken on this basis. It is important for prospective wedding couples to understand and to accept this expression of the mission of Fourth Church when they are assigned their presiding minister.

The presiding minister designated to officiate at the service will contact the couple and set up an appointment to meet with them to counsel and to plan the service. Please know that his or her schedule may limit the minister’s participation to the rehearsal and the service, and therefore he or she may not be able to attend the rehearsal dinner or reception.

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Readings

There are ordinarily two to three readings from the Bible in each wedding ceremony. A list of frequently use passages is included in your wedding packet. Fourth Presbyterian Church uses the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bible in its worship services. Readings from outside of the Bible will need to be approved by the presiding minister from Fourth Presbyterian Church.

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Music

Because the wedding service is an act of worship, music should be sacred and appropriate for formal liturgical worship. The couple will receive a sample recording of wedding music and should contact the Associate Organist of Fourth Presbyterian Church, who will assist them in choosing appropriate music for their service. Vocal soloists are normally members of the Fourth Presbyterian Church choir. The organist can make arrangements for such soloists and other instrumentalists if requested. An additional fee will be charged for soloists and instrumentalists. Guest instrumentalists and soloists must submit a sample tape or CD to the Associate Organist at least one month prior to the wedding or arrange for a rehearsal.

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