Leadership in Lockdown
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Marriage During a Lengthy Lockdown (Webinar)

A webinar, with Q&A, to explore whether we should conduct weddings "in the eyes of God" and what the pastoral challenges for marriage are during this time of lockdown.

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The aim of the webinar is to update on the current Government guidelines on the coronavirus lockdown, to explore what position churches are in to conduct weddings during this time, and to help think through pastoral care of married couples in our churches during lockdown.

The webinar is led by John Stevens, FIEC's National Director, and he is joined by Paul Mallard who is the pastor at Widcombe Baptist Church in Bath.

  • 0:00 - Teaching from Ephesians 5:25-33 - Jesus loves, cleanses, and cares for his church (John Stevens);
  • 3:55 - Update on current lockdown guidelines for churches, and the possible trajectory of relaxation (John Stevens);
  • 11:41 - Marriage under the current guidance (John Stevens);
  • 14:14 - Marriage by the Church "in the eyes of God" (John Stevens);
  • 21:41 - Caring for Marriages During the Lockdown (Paul Mallard);
  • 36:53 - Q&A:
    • What might happen when lockdown is relaxed for churches?
    • Who should we counsel those who've had weddings cancelled due to the lockdown?
    • How much biblical warrant is there to distinguish between 'cultural' and 'legal' marriage?
    • What online resources are there for marriage counselling?
    • Who is permitted to now do socially distanced pastoral care?
    • How can we make sure a marriage stays a public event if we restrict attendance?

Key updates and comments

  • Places of worship will not be opening until at least July 4th, and then likely to only be for ‘private prayer’ – our regular church gatherings will need to wait longer.
  • The most recent relaxation of lockdown means meeting up to six people outside is allowed (in England), which could make socially distanced pastoral visits possible outside.
  • We are hoping that very small gatherings for weddings may be allowed from July 4th, but this is not guaranteed.
  • We have been lobbying Government extensively to allow weddings, but they still see weddings as too high risk. They don’t understand the moral issues for Christians.
  • Marriage is an ordinance of God, not subject to state, so churches have the right to conduct marriages “in the eyes of God” – independent churches must decide what is right for themselves.
  • We suggest a set of important criteria to consider (see presentation slides) – our general advice is to wait to conduct weddings as before (but this is not a rule).
  • We need to remember to care for current marriages during lockdown, especially where cracks are being widened. Give permission to talk and adapt your counselling practices.

Further links and resources

Current Lockdown “Guidance” (as of 3/6/2020)

Should we conduct “marriages in the eyes of God”?

Full details and booking for future webinars are available on our events page.

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