Marrying Outside of Your Meeting? (sounds more scandalous than it actually is ;)

This is my first interaction here on QQ, so hi!

Here is my quandry -

I am a member of a Meeting in a first location,currently Sojourning in Detroit (perhaps permanently), and we would like to get married in a Quaker meeting house in PA near his parent's house.

We would like to have a traditional Quaker wedding ceremony in a meeting house (that part is very important to him - that it be in a "house of God") but we are, for many reasons, getting married outside of my meeting house, none actually having to do with the meeting ;)

How does one go about this? What is the clearness committee processes of getting married in another meeting house and living a ways away from the meeting of which you are a member? Should I just call up the meetinghouses near his family and ask?

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If you want a clearness process, I think it's best to start with a meeting where they know you. It should say something about this in your yearly meeting's book of faith and practice. I think that traditionally you would apply to the meeting where you are a member and they would officially ask the meeting where you are sojourning to hold the committee meetings and report back to them.

If you just want to rent a local meeting house in another place, call up the ones you like best and ask how much they charge. This could be with or without a clearness process in your home location. Be sure to check the regulations for marriage licenses, assuming you're applying for one, in the state where you will actually have the wedding.

Best wishes for many years of happiness!
I hope you are able to work this out.

A couple of things to bear in mind: First is the distinction between being married in a Quaker Meetinghouse and being married under the care of a meeting. Generally, in order to be married under the care of a Quaker Meeting, at least one of the two people being married should be a member of that meeting and be willing to have a clearness committee with that meeting. You say you are "sojourning" in Detroit. I'm not sure if you just mean you're staying there or if you mean that you have an official "sojourning membership" with a meeting there. These things may differ in other yearly meetings, but I know that in New York Yearly Meeting if you are a member of one meeting but officially "sojourning" in another, then you have all the priveleges of membership in the meeting where you are sojourning. So if you are a sojourning member of a meeting in Detroit it might be possible to be married under the care of that meeting. That would mean stating your intentions of marriage to that meeting, going through their clearness process, and obtaining a minute from the business meeting that your marriage is allowed under its care.

The other implication of being married "under the care" of the meeting is that an oversight committee from the meeting must be present at the actual wedding, sign the necessary documents, and make it legal. The laws governing this no doubt vary from state to state. I know of no requirement that the wedding take place in any particular building.

Of course, if you merely want to be married in a Quaker Meetinghouse and don't care about it being an officially Quaker wedding this is just a matter of renting the space.

One last point: There can be a very real spiritual feeling about Meetinghouses in which Friends have worshipped for long periods, and this can be accentuated by the clean spare architecture and the simplicity of the space. Quakers, however, would not usually regard any building, even a Friends Meetinghouse, as being a "house of God". The Quaker point of view, from George Fox on, has been that the dwellingplace of God is in the hearts of his people, and not in a building.

Congratulations on your engagement, and best wishes in finding a marriage venue that works for you.

- - Rich Accetta-Evans

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