The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A place to bury ... and now to marry

In a tiny chapel in Cleveland, brides and grooms take “until death parts us” very seriously. They marry at the city’s Lake View Cemetery, which has 700 burials each year—and about eight weddings—in its chapel with an an interior designed by glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. Sarah Snook and Chase Mohr arrived in a Cadillac hearse for their recent nuptuals. Mohr told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “We think Lake View reflects the importance of life and is a place of its celebration.”

A number of wedding-trend Web sites suggest August has surpassed June as the favorite month to marry. Another trend is toward “unusual” ceremony locations, such as zoos and libraries. There was no mention of a cemetery.

“The services for marriage and for funeral sit side-by-side in Evangelical Lutheran Worship,” noted Michael Burk, ELCA executive for worship and liturgical resources. “Still, a cemetery as a wedding location seems strange ... more about novelty than about the sort of faith that sustains relationships.”




Posted at 1:38 pm (U.S. Eastern) 8/7/2007

More about novelty??

I'm disappointed that Michael Burk is so far disconnected with the day-to-day realities of parish ministry.  It may be a novelty when one sits in an ivory tower dispensing a legalistic view of worship, but it is quite another when one wrestles with interfaith weddings, opportunities for Christian witness, and respect for pastoral care and concern.  I serve a congregation where my parishoners deal with life issues and economic hardships.  The last thing on their mind when planning a loved one's wedding is if it's following the rubrics of ELW.

Such a notion of locking God inside the church building is a dogmatic view that belongs in a different time and era.  The worship of God on Sundays, weddings, funerals, and other major events transcends church addresses, zoos, cemeteries, and gymnasiums.

At this moment, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly is conducting worship at the Navy Pier in Chicago.  Does Michael Burk believe this to be a novelty?  Shouldn't one of the major Chicagoland churches be more appropriate to build each other up in faith and relationships?  Only God knows what is in the hearts of the voting members at the Pier who gather in worship as well as a bride and groom who choose to be married in outer space, underwater, in a church, or in a local park.  Perhaps it's a novelty at the Navy Pier?

Michael Burk's sweeping statement of non-traditional places for worship (that's what a wedding is) reflects a lack of pastoral care and concern for those who choose such a venue.  Again, does the Worship Office of the Churchwide Organization have a window into the souls of those who choose such wacky places?  Perhaps a calling to a rural congregation in the middle of North Dakota might awaken such elites to the realities of the worship traditions which (supposedly) is respected in ELW.

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February issue


Embracing diversity