Wedding hijacked

Wedding hijacked

The Mail on Sunday, 8 September 1996.

Birmingham hotelier Antonio Cugini and his wife, who are devout Roman Catholics, said their daughter’s wedding was hijacked by the UK Church of Christ and turned into an American-style evangelical roadshow.

Their 24-year-old daughter, Sara, and her 27-year-old bridegroom Nick Isaacs of Cheam, Surrey, met three years ago after giving up their careers to devote themselves to the movement.

“We were told Sara was getting married, but never had any involvement in planning any of it, like normal families,” said Mr Cugini. “Every time we asked Sara about the arrangements, she would say: ‘the church is seeing to it'”.

Pews in a hired church in Ealing, West London, were packed with fellow follers who let out whoops of approval, and shouted “yeah” and “come on”.

The bridegroom’s father, company director Michael Isaacs, said: “I spoke to the real vicar of the church afterwards, and he was aghast.” Mrs Isaacs added: “I liked Sara from the beginning, she’s a nice person – friendly and sweet. But I would have preferred a Jewish wedding.”

She and her husband had met Sara’s parents the night before the ceremony. “They were just as shocked as we were about the whole thing”, said Mrs Isaacs.

Despite claiming to work for the poor and homeless, the church’s last accounts showed that out of 1,748.373 pounds – largely raised in tithes from its 4000 members – 1,530,863 pounds went on staff salaries, expenses, travel and administration.

The movement came to Britain from Boston, USA, in 1982. Disciples, often recruited on the streets, are encouraged to move into church flats where they face a strict regime of prayers and meetings early in the morning and late at night.

Former member Ayman Akshar said: “In my seven years with the church, I did not meet any parent who was happy at their children marrying in this sort of way. The vows require the woman to pledge subservience to her husband who she calls her lord and master”.

The newly-weds are now working for the church in Dublin.

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