It has been a joy for Judy and I to be members of our loving St. Thomas’ family, who are very dear to us. I have loved being your ‘wide eyed’ Wedding Evangelist! To share the gospel with so many, see some wonderfully saved, and then preach the gospel to 65,000 wedding guests has been a gracious privilege.
However, after reviewing and praying these last 12 months, with Simon and the wardens’ full support, the Wedding Ministry in its current form will wind up 30th June this year. Though very sad, I am confident this decision is the right one. It will help to know some of the reasons for this decision.
1. Numbers – In general, there has been a steady decline in Church weddings in Australia. It is now only 10%. Over the past 4 years the number of annual enquiries from non-church couples have declined from 130 – 60. I have only been able to book 30 weddings for this year – we have averaged 60+.
2. Personal – However, we are not a ‘business’, so numbers are not everything. A ‘closer to home’ reason is personal. In June I will have served in this ministry 11 years having done 650 weddings! Where has the time gone? In my ‘last years’ of full-time paid ministry, I have considered if continuing with weddings is the best thing to do? The answer I believe is a reasonable ‘no’.
3. Change – Personally I believe change is a good thing. One good change is knowing when to stop something. Unfortunately, churches are not good at this. Often a good and fruitful ministry, which was successful and working in past years, will be allowed to continue long after its use by date. With our new rector a new approach may be considered, however I am confident it is the right time to wind up the ministry in its current form now – trying to sustain it, or reinvent it, is not the right thing to do.
What happens now?
1. Last Sunday the wedding website www.GreatChurchWedding.com changed to note “St. Thomas will no longer make bookings for the foreseeable future”. It includes links to 6 other Anglican Churches.
2. The number of St.T’s couples getting married is increasing. Last year we saw 10 and as of March 8th we already have 11 booked for this year! This is a wonderful blessing of God, so please pray for our clergy and admin staff who will take on this growing ministry.
3. As mentioned, I still have weddings booked for this year. I will do 22 before the 30th June and return a number of times to do the final 10 in the last 6 months.
4. By God’s grace our future ministry is almost secured. When the final details are worked out, we will be able to tell you where we are going next.
This is not goodbye yet, but Judy and I do want to say how much we love our family at St. T’s, how precious you have been with your encouragement and support and do ask for your prayers as we finalise where we will be next.
Wishing you every blessing in Jesus our Lord,
Richard (& Judy) James