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Rules governing the publishing of the banns of marriage changing: Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.

The statutory procedure for publishing banns of marriage is to take effect next month.  On 19 Dec 2012, the Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure is due to receive Royal Assent. Section 2 of the Measure, which comes into immediate effect, changes the way clergy, parish clerks and all those responsible for publishing the banns of marriage are to proceed.

The new law gives statutory authority for the use of the language for the publication of banns of marriage as contained in Common Worship, providing an alternative form than that contained in the Book of Common Prayer.

Banns must now be published on three Sundays at the “principal service” of a church – under the former law banns were to be published at the “morning service.”  The new law also permits the banns to be published at any other Sunday service for three Sundays prior to the marriage.

In a note published by the legal office at Church House, the “principal service” is the “service which, in the opinion of the member of the clergy … is likely to be attended by the greatest number of people who habitually attend public worship.”

“Most parishes have a service on Sundays which will clearly be the ‘principal service’. In many parishes this will be the morning service, or one of the morning services. But in some parishes it may be an evening service. If there is more than one service on a Sunday it is for the person responsible for publishing the banns – usually a member of the clergy – to form a view as to which is likely to be attended by the greatest number of habitual worshippers. The banns must then be published at that service. (It does not matter, for the purposes of the legal requirement, that in the event a greater number of people unexpectedly attend a different service on the Sunday in question.)”

The Legal Office noted that the banns may be published at an additional Sunday service as well, offering the example of a couple that “might only attend an evening service, in which case the banns could additionally be published at the evening service.”

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

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