At the last wedding I did, there was a blatant violation of board policy. Last night we had a board meeting, so I asked the board what they wanted me to do in the future if something similar happened. In this close knit church, the focus was on what was wrong with their policy rather than the violation of it. They decided to consider changing the policy at our January meeting. For these people, relationships are the most important thing, and they are unwilling to do anything that will hurt their relationship with this couple and their extended family.
I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes I think it would be nice if they showed half as much consideration for the pastor and her feelings as they do for one another. That will never happen, though, because no matter how long I am here, I will always be the outsider. Most of the people at the meeting last night knew at least 4 generations of one of the families involved in the wedding. That history and those roots are something that will never be forgotten. The pastor will always be seen as just passing through, and therefore expendable.
I couldn't have had the conversation with them right after the wedding, but by last night I had come to realize it was their policy and therefore, their problem. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do with the policy in January. One woman suggested that a board member should be present at future weddings to make sure policy is followed. She has less history with the congregation than I do, so I don't think they even heard her suggestion. They certainly didn't acknowledge it.
It's a strange life I live, being in a community but never of it. I am present at some of the most intimate moments in people's lives-- baptisms, weddings, funerals. I catch glimpses into parts of their lives that are hidden from the rest of the community. Even so, I am not part of their lives, not really. Most of the time, I'm okay with that. Sometimes, I long to be of the community, not just in it.