Post # 1
When my FI and I first started talking weddings he said that he wanted the pastor of his church to marry us. My FI was raised in that church and the pastor has married everyone in his family and even renewed his grandparents vowes. A few months we asked him to marry us and he agreed already expecting too. We haven’t been going to church much since we moved in together because what is the point when we are living against what the bible teaches and not planning on changing that until we are married? It is just being hypocritical so we figure we can start going after the wedding. Well, the pastor usually only marries people who actively go to the church but said that since he has known my FI his whole life and has known me for 3 years now that he would let us use the church and connecting building for free. All the invitations are made and sent out and the wedding is a little over a month away. The past couple weeks we have been plannig on going by the church to talk to the pastor again and stay for the service after but our 7 month old ended up going to the hospital for pneumonia so we never went. This past Sunday we got a text from my FSIL saying that since we haven’t been going to church the pastor has decided to charge us $350 to use the church and his services. Now we have to find a new location and someone new to marry us with just 5 weeks left before the wedding. What am I supposed to do? My FI never wants to step foot in that church again because of this and now I’m super stressed. Why would a PASTOR do something like this? They are supposed to be role models for the rest of the church and he lied to us and is trying to charge us a lot of money that we don’t have. Every extra penny we have goes to our son. Everything we have gotten for the wedding has been on sale or from craigslist because we know we can’t afford a lot. I’m sorry it was so long but I just needed to vent so that maybe I can think of a solution.
Post # 3
Wait, did the pastor tell you this or is it just word of mouth from you FSIL? Why don’t you call the pastor himself to find out??
Post # 4
I would make an appointment to meet with him and discuss the situation.
I am presuming that he knew you were living together when he made the original offer.
Maybe he thought that you planned to start attending church again together now that you were planning a wedding.
I would suggest that you do start going to church. It will show some respect for him and the teachings of the church. Just because you are not folowing one of the teachings doesn’t mean you shoudl not go to church. If that were true, very few people would qualify to attend church.
Tell him why you have not been attending- that you thought it was disrespectful, and that you were not aware that it would affect his decision.
Ask him to reconsider his decision.
Post # 5
First off, are you officially members of the church? Have you registered as members? And, have you made weekly contributions to the church via your church envelopes?
I know that at our Catholic church, we attend mass on a weekly basis, and put our weekly contribution envelope in the collection. It’s how our church keeps track of who attends mass and how much they donate to the church. Because our kids go to the school affiliated with the church, it also secures us the “parishoner rate” for tuition. It’s a discounted rate because we are parishoners who attend mass and donate on a regular basis. If we stopped doing this, the school would bump us to a non-parishoner tuition rate. Before you argue that we’re “making up the difference with our weekly contribution”, we’re not — it’s quite a difference between what we contribute and the the discount we get! I mean, honestly, I don’t know why people wouldn’t join the church because the difference between the two is considerable!!!
If you’re a member of the church, you are expected to contribute to the church. If you haven’t been doing that, then that might be the reason you’re being charged for using it. I’m sure that the pastor expected you to become full members of the church, making weekly contributions and that’s why he was going to waive the fee. If you haven’t followed through on that, it could be the reason for the charge.
Post # 6
I think you need to schedule a meeting with this guy pronto. I don’t know why it came to you word of mouth, but you need to call him up and ask him yourself. As for not attending church because it’s hypocritical? It’s not. There’s no law saying that “sinners” (I don’t consider sex or living together before marriage a sin) can’t go to church. Wasn’t that what the church was FOR? And I don’t know that you can say that he lied to you–it’s policy that he marries members of the church who actively go. You’ve said you’re not going, so I’m assuming you’re not paying tithes, either. What you are doing is taking advantage of a pastors kindness. However, this can be remedied. Call him, schedule a meeting, and explain.
Post # 7
I think the monetary fee is pretty reasonable. I’d try to come up with the money before you find a new location for the ceremony, reception and a new officiant, particularly since you have already mailed the invitations.
Post # 8
You actually have to pay to go to church? Like, they actually want your name on it and check how much you pay? I’ve never heard of that – it sounds unsavory (don’t mean to offend, but couldnt’ think of another word).
What about people that cannot afford to be giving money to the church that could be feeding their family? Isn’t the money you give supposed to help those people? Does it get sent to the vatican or pay rent for the church? I always thought the church was there to help the needy, not for the needy to help the church. I guess I just don’t understand this logic….. 🙁
Post # 9
Its pretty standard for churches to charge a fee so I’m not sure where you think you will find somewhere else to get married that doesn’t charge that fee. I think its unreasonable to expect that a pastor of a church you don’t even attend would perform your service for free. Especially because as a PP mentioned, you do not give money regularly to that church. I would definitely talk to him about it and maybe if you explain your financial situation you could get the fee reduced.
Post # 10
@luckyprincess: It’s called tithing–in Christianity, at least. It’s not a necessary thing. BUT the money given by members funds much of what the church does. Be it the pastors salary, programs such as youth, childcare, charity (providing for those in need of food, shelter, clothes, etc), and MANY other things. Nothing comes without a price-tag, and a church community cannot thrive without the generosity of its members.
Post # 11
Post # 12
Thank you for the explanation. I guess it just seems distastful for a church of all things to decide if a family is giving them enough money! I think it would create feelings of inferiority or shame in a church which I think have no place there. I don’t think any loving God would want his followers to feel like they could only attend His church if they were paying enough money…..
But clearly it works in that religion so I guess I’m just not familiar with the practice.
ETA: I just noticed that you said it wasn’t necessary but I guess another couple of posts made it sound necessary or at least necessary to receive any services that the church would provide. sorry for that misunderstanding
Post # 13
i think your pastor is being reasonable, you dont attend church nor do you currently contribute to it
They are supposed to be role models for the rest of the church
they are still people that need to budget, is accountable to its local ministry and community and also give support to the active members of their community – do you think that someone who contributes weekly, whether it be by dontations, volunteering or attending would think its fair that a non church going single parent should be allowed to receive services at no charge?
Post # 14
@luckyprincess: Well they keep track of money in the same way that any business would. You don’t just throw it all in the pot without counting it. What BanditGirl was saying was that she gets a “member discount”, so to speak. Her parish has her and her husband in their records as members, and members that contribute to the community. Therefor her children go to school for a reduced rate. It’s like any other club-members have benefits! But again, that money pays to keep the place running so people have a church to go to! When the tithes coming in goes down, programs can get cut. This reduces the community, in a way. A church wants to be able to offer it’s members (and the surrounding community) what the need. Be it a spiritual, physical, or emotional need. Look at any church website and see all the various events and activities listed! Group therapy, church picnics, youth groups, childcare, AA groups, grief support groups. A church (or synagogue, in my case) is there to serve its community. But again-nothin’s free!
Granted–there is corruption everywhere–but this is the basic principle.
Post # 15
It’s not bothering me that he wants to charge us to use the church, though he knows we don’t have $350 to spend on it. What bothers me is that he told us he would do it for free and then changed months later just because we didn’t start going to church regularly. For all he knows we could be going to a different church except my FSIL probably told him that we just don’t want to go (which isn’t the case). We have been planning on going for the past couple weeks but our son has had pneumonia so we haven’t left the house except for me to go to work. We are going to talk to him and if he is going to charge us when he said he wouldn’t then we are going to go to my FMIL’s church and see if her pastor will let us use THAT church and have a friend of mine marry us. If he had told us up front that we would have to pay then we would have been able to check around for cheaper places or if someone would let us do it somewhere free before making the invitations.
This church doesn’t know who gives tith and how much they give so even if we did go that wouldn’t be an issue. Right now we are having trouble paying rent and our utilities. We wouldn’t even have the internet if we didn’t need it for school and for my FI to look for jobs while he’s at home with the baby. The pastor knows how tight money is for us and yet he is expecting more than we can afford. They just finished paying off the building so they don’t have a lot of money going to the church. Most of what they get in the tith goes to whatever they decide to put it to be it food for a shelter or whatever. If he weren’t a good person I’d say most of it went into his pocket (some churches do that) but I know he DOES use it the way he should.
Yes, we did hear it from his sister and not the pastor but, even though we know she added some things to the message, we know she wouldn’t be lying about it. She has never missed a service in her whole life except when she was in the hospital giving birth to their daughter and she is up front about everyting. There is no way she would tell us that if it wasn’t true, especially since everyone would find out about it when the pastor asked why we haven’t talked to him about the wedding more.
He has known about our living situation since we first moved in together and he knows we have a child together so there is no way he changed his mind because he found out about something in our life that made him think twice. We don’t know what made him change but he should stick to his first decision because we have been counting on it. His SIL even told us up front that she wouldn’t do our photos free because, though she does our other pictures free, a wedding is more complicated and there are more photos involved so she is doing it cheap but still wants something for her time. If he had said that in the begining then we could have planned on spending money on the church and tried to get the money somehow.
Post # 16
To be honest, $350 for a wedding AND a reception hall is a freaking steal. So you might have gotten it for free, but that may be water under the bridge. The thing is, if you were going to church regularly, and titheing every week as you should, the church would have probably made that money two or three times over. Since you haven’t been going to church, they haven’t received any income. The sad reality is, churches NEED money to stay open. They have mortgages and bills and and employees to pay. They can afford to offer “free” wedding services to members who regularly donate to the church. For someone who doesn’t go to church, or rarely goes to church, it is just not financially feasible or realistic. I honestly don’t think this is a moral issue at all, but a monetary one, for the church. The minister HAS to answer to a church board. I’ve been on a church board of directors, so I know that there is an accounting for the use of church facilities and the ministers time. This can’t be given away. I would suggest that you go to church on Sunday, then after church, ask the minister if you can set up a meeting with him. If you can’t afford to pay the fee, offer something else. I know my former church accepted an offer to paint the sunday school classrooms in lieu of a wedding fee once, and a young couple, who had a cleaning service, offered to clean the church windows and deep clean the carpets to cover the cost of their wedding. The board gladly accepted these offers, and it was a win/win situation for everyone. I don’t know what your skills are, but surely there is something you can offer to offset the cost. Childcare during church meetings or events, maybe? Regardless, do not give up on the church or the minister for this incident. Do not take it personally, talk it out with him and I am sure things will work out and you will still get your wedding.