The Reverend Canon David Luxton, of St. George's on-the-Hill Anglican Church in Islington, ON recently performed this service for two of his parishioners. "I was really glad I did it," he says. "The couple felt they needed a ritual to end their marriage
At the end of the ceremony, Canon Luxton and the couple's friends, family, and teenaged daughter spoke these healing words to them: "We affirm you in the new covenant you have made: one that finds you separated but still caring for one another and wishing each other good will; one that enables you to support and love your child; one that helps you ease the pain you feel... On behalf of the church which blessed your marriage, we now recognize the end of that marriage. We affirm you as single persons among us, and we pledge you our support as you continue to seek God's help and guidance for the new life you have undertaken in faith."
In orthodox Judaism, as described by Adin Steinsaltz in his book, The Essential Talmud, the "divorce occurs when the husband gives a get to his wife. Get is ... basically a simple written note. After recording the date and place, it contains a declaration that a certain man hereby divorces his wife, who is now permitted to remarry."
Paul and Joan recently went through the experience in a rabbinical court. "Our divorce was amicable," he says, "so we were able to focus on the symbolism of the ceremony. The three rabbis who performed the ceremony were very sensitive to our feelings; one of them spoke to each of us individually to help us see the experience as a new beginning." He says they both felt a lot of sadness during the ceremony -- the journey that they had begun in love and hope had ended in divorce.