Ring ceremonies help include non-members



    Parents and close family members look forward to marriages as a time of happiness and unity, but some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who get married in the temple have family members who cannot attend.

    In many cases this situation is extremely awkward, and sometimes produces negative feelings towards the church and the couple getting married.

    In April of last year, Gina Thompson, 20, a graduate student in mathematics, married her husband, Nephi, in the Manti Temple. Gina’s father, who is not a member of the LDS Church, felt left out because he was not able to attend the ceremony.

    “He didn’t talk about it because he didn’t want any negative feelings to burden the special day,” Thompson said. “But I know he was hurt.”

    Gina joined the church four years ago in Roanoke, Va., after being introduced to the LDS Church from some friends. Two and a half years later, her mother joined the LDS Church. She said her father never really had interest in any religion, but that he has always been supportive of his family’s decisions.

    Thompson said that the initial concern her father had about the wedding was her young age and the short engagement common in the LDS culture. But after meeting Nephi, both parents were very supportive of the new couple’s decision.

    The element that made the difference for her father’s inclusion was a ring ceremony held before the sealing, said Thompson.

    The ring ceremony is commonly performed after a sealing by some LDS Church members to help include family members who can not participate in the temple ceremony. However, according to Brett Scharff, bishop of the 130th Ward at BYU’s 1st Stake, LDS Church leaders have expressed different views about the ring ceremony.

    “Some encourage the supplemental ring ceremony so the non-member family can participate in some way and feel apart of the wedding,” Scharff said. “However, others have expressed concerns that the ceremony can detract from the more sacred ceremony of the temple.”

    Michelle Reed, 21, a political science and economics major, was married in the Mt.Timpanogos Temple last June to her husband John. Many of her relatives were not able to attend the sealing, so a ring ceremony was held afterwards.

    “I didn’t feel it detracted from the temple ceremony at all,” Reed said. “In fact, the ceremony was used as a very effective teaching and missionary tool to help my relatives understand the importance of the sealing.”

    Alicia Laub, 23, a psychology major, said her father is not a member of the LDS Church and that her sister was discouraged from having a ring ceremony because some people thought it would take away from the importance of the temple sealing. But, according to Laub, they decided to have it anyway and it ended up being a beautiful affair.

    Laub’s father was very upset he could not give her daughter away, because it was a big deal for him, Laub said. However, he was able to walk his daughter down the aisle and spoke at the ring ceremony, helping him feel more a part of the wedding. Even though hard feelings still exist, Laub said the ring ceremony really helped bring the family together at the wedding.

    Both Reed and Thompson said the ring ceremony was hard to plan because the LDS Church gives no particular guidance on what should take place.

    Bishop Scharff said the only real guidance the LDS Church gives is to not recreate or simulate any form of an actual temple wedding.

    “People are scared to do a ring ceremony because the Church really doesn’t say too much about it,” Reed said. “But you need to remember the feelings of your family in this major life transition. I recommend that people don’t ostracize their family because they cannot attend the temple sealing. People are at different spiritual points of their lives. The only way we can convert is through love.”

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