Ontario gov’t excludes diaconal ministers from officiating at weddings

This letter was sent to DUCC members in Ontario.

Earlier this month the Coordinating Committee became aware of a change in practice of issuing licenses to marry by the Ontario government’s Marriage Office, Office of the Registrar General. Effective immediately the Marriage Office is issuing licenses to marry to ordained clergy only. The Marriage Office is not granting licenses to anyone who has not specifically been “ordained”, which includes candidates for ministry who are in student supply appointments, DLMs (recognized) and Diaconal Minsters (commissioned). Those people who currently have licenses to marry can continue to perform marriages.

Myself and our DUCC staff person, Eric Tusz-King have been in contact with Jenny Stephens, the Team Leader Policies and Programs for Ministry Personnel, who informed us that the Executive Secretary of Hamilton Conference, Peter Hartmans, is taking lead of responding to the Ontario government and is seeking advice from legal counsel. He has agreed to keep Eric and myself in the communications loop.

I have sent a letter to the Ontario DUCCs via email (and if you missed the email, please contact me at the email address below) and asked for input from them. I have heard back from a good number of folks. As we wait for further news from Hamilton Conference, Eric and I have met with the Advocacy Cluster and discussed options for going forward.

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to email me. Or, come have a chat with me in Winnipeg when we meet next month.

Yours in Christ,

Vicki McPhee
vicki@symonsvalleyuc.com

Vicki McPhee is the Chair of the Coordinating Committee for the Diakonia of the United Church of Canada (DUCC).