Clarification of the law relating to ‘qualifying connections’ for marriage

Section 1 of the Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure 2012 amends the Church of England Marriage Measure 2008 and came into force on 1st June 2013. 

The legislation clarifies for the avoidance of doubt that those who have a ‘qualifying connection’ (as defined in the 2008 Measure) with a parish may benefit from various provisions of the Marriage Act 1949 in the same way that those who have a right to marry in his or her parish of residence or usual place of worship.

Those provisions are as follows:

A)   Where benefices are held in plurality or where a single benefice has multiple parishes, and the bishop has made a order for banns and marriages (under the Marriage Act section 23 or the Mission and Pastoral Measure section 43), banns may be published and marriages take place in any of the churches or chapels in the benefice(s) as defined by the terms of that order.

B)    Where a parish church is being rebuilt or repaired, and is therefore not being used for usual parish services, banns may be published and marriages may take place in:-

i.          a building in the parish that has been licensed by the bishop for services whilst the parish church is out of use; or,

ii.          if the bishop has not licensed any such building, any consecrated chapel in the parish as directed by the bishop; or

iii.          a parish church or chapel licensed for marriages of any adjoining parish.

C)    Where a parish does not have a parish church or public chapel, or does not have a parish church or public chapel in which Sunday services are regularly held, the parish is deemed to belong to any adjoining parish, and banns may be published and marriages solemnized in the parish church of any adjoining parish.

D)   Where a parish has no parish church, but a building (or part of a building) in the parish is designated as a ‘parish centre of worship’, it is deemed to be, for the purpose of marriages, a parish church; but a marriage may be solemnized either in the ‘parish centre of worship’ or in any adjoining parish as under (C) above.

The Church of England Legal Office has provided a more detailed briefing setting out the changes, which can be found here.