One of the ways CHBC is being counter-cultural in this part of the country is in the number of weddings every year. With an average age of 29 and teaching that consistently honors the institution of marriage, it’s not a surprise that many of the single members here are pursuing marriage. But what I’ve come to appreciate is not only the number of weddings, but the deliberate-ness of how they do weddings here in order to communicate biblical truths. Here are a few observations:
– In one of the Sunday evening services leading up to the wedding, the bride and groom-to-be will always come up to the front and share prayer requests with the whole community about how they can be praying for the wedding ceremony and for the upcoming marriage. Usually, the focus is more on spiritual concerns than temporal concerns, including unsaved relatives that will be attending the ceremony.
– A wedding ceremony is considered a gathering of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, meaning that the entire church membership is always invited to attend weddings of church members.
– Something I learned is that when escorting ladies, men are always supposed to escort with their left arms, in order to keep their right arms free in order to draw their swords in case of any danger.
– Modesty seems to be a consistent theme in the dress of the ladies in the wedding party.
– The ceremony is very much a worship service and will include congregational singing (rarely “special music”), prayer, and preaching, along with the processional, vows and other more traditional elements of a wedding.
– During the sermon, the entire wedding party actually sits down in the pews in the front row, and the pastor gets behind the pulpit to preach. This is to emphasize the fact that he is proclaiming the truth of God’s Word. The message is especially directed to the couple, but also to the congregation.
– In the two services I’ve attended, I’ve found the wedding sermon to be particularly Gospel-centered and Christ-exalting, focusing on the example of the love of Christ for the Church, in His patient, personal, sacrificial love for her.
– The wedding vows taken in the ceremony are strongly encouraged to be the same from marriage to marriage. The pastors discourage individualized wedding vows, because they want to emphasize the commonality of marriage, how it is instituted by God for all His people and not something that we create. Therefore, the commitment that one person makes in his marriage is the same commitment that other married people have made, to which they must all hold each other accountable.
– After the wedding ceremony, there is usually a nice reception in the West Hall with food and fellowship. There the bride and groom can partake in other wedding activities that might be more culturally related. (For example, if there is a Chinese couple, they might serve tea to their parents… or like the last wedding I went to, where the bride and groomed used a two-man saw to saw through a piece of lumber) Since CHBC has a pretty diverse congregation, this is always a fun time.
– For each wedding reception, at least 20-25 church members will volunteer to help with various tasks, like serving food at the reception, setup, clean up, etc…
– There is no garter toss, due to the potentially immodest nature of it. As a result, there has also slowly been a doing away with the bouquet toss as well, much to the relief of many of the single women. After all, as one of the deaconesses described it, “It can be humiliating for a 35 year old single woman to have to go up in front of everyone to catch a bouquet from a 25 year old bride.”