On Saturday I officiated at the wedding of Lorna Cargill and Barry Lewis. Some of you no doubt will have read Lorna’s blog post explaining how she made the journey to Sanctuary First to get married.
The wedding took place in Oran Mor, which was originally Kelvinside Parish Church, in the West end of Glasgow, but is now used as a wedding venue and restaurant. The gallery area of the original church has been floored and turned into a great space for a wedding celebration.
All around the arches of the roof carved in stone are many of the heads of the reformers, including Luther, Calvin and Knox. I wonder what they’d make of the fact that a church had been turned into a venue for all kinds of celebrations. The fact that their presence is still there made for interesting conversations with the guests. It’s totally amazing the opportunities that arise to talk about the faith in situations like these, when people are relaxed often surrounded by their friends and family. The heads of Calvin and Knox are actually talking heads as people ask, “ Who are these guys carved in stone?” It helps if you can remember your Reformation history.
Perhaps their presence is never far away from us in Scotland, because to my mind the Reformation brought great freedoms to us in Europe. And as Scots we must never forget the legacy of Knox’s vision of a school in every parish.
This is now the second time I have conducted a wedding in this particular venue, and the staff and wedding planner photographers and sound person couldn’t have been more helpful. And the thing is I had interesting conversations with all of them about my work as an online minister, who more often than not is offline having conversations that help people make new connections to church online.
The conversation with the wedding planner resulted in an invitation to attend the next wedding fair in Oran Mor. The wedding planner suggested if the church was represented at these events no doubt more people would avail themselves of a Christian weddings. I kind of think that may well be true. This got me thinking could Sanctuary First be an online signpost pointing couples to their parish church where they can technically get married without charge. One thing is for certain I do believe we are missing out on making connections when the church is under represented at the wedding fairs that take place all around the country.
On leaving the wedding reception one of Barry’s family spoke with me. He told me he had lived in Liverpool for 26 years and as there wasn’t a Church of Scotland in Liverpool he hadn’t attended church for a long time. Now I know I could have said but you could go to the United Reformed Church for that is our sister church in England, but instead I gave him one of our promotional cards and a positive welcome to join Sanctuary First. So Graham if you read this welcome onboard.
All this got me thinking weddings have the potential to be places where conversations can lead to miracles happening. Like the wedding Jesus attended in Cana and ended up with the master of ceremonies complimenting him on the quality of the wine he had just made out of the water that had been poured into the large jars he had supplied.
One thing I’ve learned today Sanctuary First has the potential to be the bridge for many people who are looking to find a way to get back in touch with their faith.
Very Rev Albert Bogle, Minister of Sanctuary First