God with us: celebrating life's important moments
Today more than quarter of all marriages in England take place before God within a Church of England church. All are welcome to marry in church regardless of belief, whether or not applicants have baptised, or even go to church. At St Mary’s we believe in the importance of Christian marriage. At the core of every marriage is the expectation of a shared, loving and spiritual journey. Christians believe that marriage is a gift of God through which husband and wife come to know his love and grace. It is the foundation of family life in which children are loved and nurtured; where all may find strength, companionship and comfort. A church wedding is a living sign of unity and loyalty which enriches society and strengthens family and community. Christian Marriage has a central place in witnessing to, and shaping a community.
Those seeking marriage are subject to the rites, practices and canon law of the Church of England. Couples may be married in either St Mary's or at Gibside Chapel.
Short historical descriptions for church and chapel
The Parish church of Whickham is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. It has stood at the heart of the community since the early part of the twelfth century. Local historians believe an earlier wooden building may have pre-dated the Norman built Church. Originally designed and built as a ‘two cell’ church, the oldest remaining parts are the Chancel arch, along with the three arches of the south side of the nave. We represent an unbroken tradition of Christian witness, worship, teaching and care for the people of Whickham, a tradition that spans 900 years.
Gibside Chapel, an 18th century Palladian Chapel, is part of the historic Gibside landscape garden in the Derwent Valley, and is open to visitors. The National Trust, a conservation charity, cares for it now, but originally it was owned by the Bowes-Lyon family. The Chapel is adorned with delicate and intricate carvings and inside, high quality wooden curved pews and a three-tier pulpit. Latterly the chapel was in the ownership of the Strathmore family. It was given into the care of the NT and is under Faculty Jurisdiction of the Diocese of Durham. The bodies of the Strathmore family are laid to rest in the chapel’s crypt.
Same Sex Couples. Christians hold a variety of views about human relationships and sexuality. The Church of England is prevented by law from conducting weddings for people of the same sex. The Bishops have asked clergy to respect their agreed position of not offering a service of blessing in church to same sex couples following a wedding or civil partnership ceremony elsewhere. However it should be noted that members of the Church are themselves in a variety of relationships, including faithful committed partnerships with people of the same sex. As the Rector of Whickham, and with the support of the Parochial Church Council, I am happy to discuss with couples an appropriate way of marking their commitment to each other through reflection and prayer.
Please see below an example of prayers that could be used or adapted. For further information regarding pastoral guidance on same sex marriage go to our policies page, click here.
In baptism we thank God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledge his love. In the Church of England it is common to baptise young children as well as adults. Baptism, or ‘Christening’ as it is sometimes called, is an important Christian ‘sacrament’ (an outward sign of an inner grace received) one which can be traced back to the baptism of Jesus himself. Our Baptism services are filled with joy and prayer as we welcome new disciples into the realm of Gods love and his Church.
It is our hope that all who are baptised, will explore their faith and come to consider Admission to Communion (for children) or Confirmation. This marks the point when Christians affirm for themselves the faith into which they have been baptized. This is a further sign of an intention to live a life of committed discipleship. This affirmation is confirmed through prayer and the laying on of hands by the bishop. The Church also asks God to give them power through the Holy Spirit to enable them to follow the way of Jesus. There is a confirmation once a year; want to know more? Contact our Rector, Barry
A funeral marks the end of a person's life here on earth. Family and friends come together to express grief, give thanks for the life lived and commend the person into God's keeping. Funerals can be small, quiet ceremonies or larger occasions; in all events we offer a professional service sensitive to the needs of the family.
At St Mary's we believe that God's love and power extend over all creation. Every life, including our own, is precious to God. Christians have always believed that there is hope in life and that there is new life in Christ after death. As the parish church of Whickham, we are here for you at a difficult time. If you choose us to help we will provide a bespoke service to meet your requirements.
In time you may want to add the persons name to our book of remembrance within the church. And, after the service? Well we remain here to support you if so needed. If our church community can help in any way then please contact our clergy or the parish office.