One stop sacrament shop? Baptism + Wedding UPDATE
OK, so first I thought this was totally goofy, but now I think it's genius. The Church of England has begun promoting same-service weddings and baptisms--of the couple's children, not the bride and groom, according to CNN.
Turns out 20 percent of the couples coming to the church to marry already had children, either their own or one partner's children from a previous relationship. Britain's Office of National Statistics has noted that having children, rather than getting married, is now often the first major milestone of adult life. And before we lament the destruction of the family, we should remember that until the last century or so, children (or at least pregnancy) often preceded marriage.
I can hear the objections now: "This encourages sex/children before marriage." I don't think so. The church can continue to promote the ideal progression of marriage then children while dealing with the pastoral reality of unmarried couples with children. In a way this is good news: Families are realizing that they want and need the church, and so are coming as a whole--parents and children--to the sacraments. And what a way to support a blended family by making the wedding a time of commitment not only for the couple but for their children: A new family forged in the embrace of the church.
I think we can look to the ministry of Jesus on this one too, especially how he sought to restore what has been broken. Many families are in need of repair. What better place to seek it than among the disciples of Jesus?
UPDATE: The UK Mail has more traditional Anglicans grousing about the "buy one, get one" approach to the sacraments. The church is "following the methods of the supermarkets: buy one, get one free. I don't know why they don't do a bumper deal and offer all seven sacraments in one service," says Stephen Robinson of the Anglo-Catholic group Forward in Faith.
The Mail has a hilarious cartoon worth checking out as well.