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Last Updated: Friday, 7 July 2006, 04:40 GMT 05:40 UK
Church 'to relax' wedding rules
Wedding on EastEnders
Church weddings have fallen in number
Getting married in a church may become easier under changes being considered by the Church of England synod.

Dismayed by the decline in the number of church weddings, the Church's ruling body will discuss relaxing the rules, at its meeting which starts on Friday.

It will also consider a motion calling on the government to reinstate the married couples allowance.

The synod will also consider whether the ordination of women bishops can be "theologically justified".

If the motion is passed as expected, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams will lead moves to set up a legislative drafting group to tackle the issue.

Division

Of particular concern is what to do with the significant minority of clergy who have refused to serve under women bishops.

The subject of church weddings is less divisive.

Currently, couples who wish to marry in a parish where neither one lives or worships, must currently seek a special licence.

Some clergy have insisted couples who wish to marry in their parish church must first attend a number of services.

Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Church of England has backed the principle of women bishops

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said that couples might in future be able to marry in a church of their choice simply by one of them having been baptised there.

Other qualifications could be having attended a local school or by having a relative as a regular member of the congregation, he added.

Other issues on the agenda include the Church of England pension scheme and chaplaincy work in colleges of further education.

The victims of the July 7 bomb attacks and their families are to be remembered in the opening prayers, led by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.


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