Those with an eagle eye may have noticed a major change to our site with the addition of 9168 churches last night. This is a major project that we have been quietly working on with the Church of England for several months and will, at last, make churches more accessible to couples who do not regularly attend.
Unfortunately we overlooked one minor issue, and as we uploaded adverts for every Church of England church, from Guernsey to the Isle of Man, an automated email went to every single one of them confirming a total of £871000 in advertising.
Never before have we answered quite so many phone calls in such a short period of time, while waiting for approval from the church media office to send an email to confirm that we are not charging churches for this service.
What has surprised us, from the calls we have received, is the variation from church to church in the understanding and interpretation of the Marriage Measure 2008. Some have asked for the wording on our site to be changed to discourage “casual Christianity” they would like to make it clear that couples are expected to have a strong connection with the church where they would like to marry as well as regularly attending for at least six months and undertaking to join an ongoing “support” group. Other vicars are keen to make everyone welcome if the law allows it.
It will be interesting to see whether making the church more accessible to couples starts to correct the balance between civil ceremonies and church weddings.