Divorcees allowed church weddings

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The Independent Online
WHEN VALERIE Lovett decided to remarry she knew she wanted a church wedding - not as a pretty backdrop for the photographs, but because she was a committed Christian.

Her first marriage had ended 10 years earlier when her husband left her for another woman. She had fought to save the relationship for the sake of their two-year-old son, Christopher, but there was no chance of a reconciliation.

Although Mrs Lovett knew that she was the abandoned partner, she still took seriously the question of whether it was right to repeat her vows in a church. "There was a lot of conflict in me, knowing what the vows were and what they meant," she said.

However, after conversations with her parish priest, the Rev Wendy Saunders, curate in Thamesmead, south-east London, she realised that a second church wedding was an option. In January this year she was married at the Church of the Cross, in Thamesmead. Christopher, now 12, was the best man.

"We approached Wendy and she was quite happy to go ahead with it," said Mrs Lovett, a school liaison officer. "I was not the unfaithful party. Though I probably did some things wrong, the actual sinning was done by my husband. I felt I could quite happily go through another ceremony in church."

So Mrs Lovett, 37, and her new husband, John, 40, from Erith, in Kent, joined the growing number of divorcees whose second marriages are prohibited by the Church in theory, yet endorsed in practice. To them, the church wedding put a seal on their relationship in a way that a civil ceremony could never have done.

"As a Christian I wanted to make my vows in front of God," said Mrs Lovett. "I think these civil weddings are very pretty, very lovely, but I don't think they have quite the same oomph to them. For me, it wasn't that I had to have the beautiful church and the fantastic organist, I just had to have a church as such and a minister."

Ms Saunders does not automatically agree to marry divorcees in church, but in this case she was sure it was the right thing to do. "They were people of considerable maturity who were clear about what they were embarking on and committed to a new family," she said.

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