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PRESS FOR
Susanna’s Work

 

 

Susanna's work has been featured in (but not limited to) The Associated Press, Publishers Weekly, The Reader's Digest, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, Time Out NY, ABC News, The San Diego Union-Tribune, San Mateo Times, Florida Sun Times, Modern Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings, Bride's, The Knot, New York Weddings, Washington Weddings, Boston Weddings, California Weddings, For the Bride, Wedding Bells, Getting Remarried, The New Etiquette for Today's Bride, Wedding Channel Magazine, Personal Journey, Your Path to a More Spiritual Life, AIMS Magazine UK and Downtown Express. Macomb has also been interviewed on national radio and appeared on local and national television including MSNBC's The Ethical Edge on Interfaith Relationships, The Party Planner with David Tutera where she created and performed a marriage ceremony for a couple leaving to serve in Iraq, and A Wedding Story where she created and performed a ceremony for a Buddhist Taoist Chinese /Catholic American couple at Grand Central Station.
 
See below for articles:

PRESS FOR Susanna’s Wedding Ceremonies

 

Modern Bride's New York Wedding

Fall/Winter 1998 Issue -
also appeared in 16 other regional editions

     



For the Bride

Fall/Winter 1997 Issue

 

 

Martha Stewart Weddings

Winter 2004 Issue

     



Click Here to listen to Rev. Susanna talk about Interfaith, Intercultural Marriages.




Best Wedding Officiant
Fall 2009

PRESS FOR Joining Hands and Hearts

From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
A House Divided

Interfaith families cut across lines and make religious institutions edgy.
It's the elephant in the family room, and it's getting bigger. Each year, among 2.3 million American unions, thousands of Catholics marry Protestants, Jews marry Christians, and Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims and Greek Orthodox believers marry someone from another religion.

Yet not a lot is written about this phenomenon. The institutions of religion normally charged with marrying couples don't encourage the practice. In Judaism, where the rate of intermarriage is especially striking—an estimated 50% of marriages among Jews today are interfaith—it's even difficult to find a rabbi who will conduct a ceremony. In the American Jewish community, "there are few people who are comfortable writing about it in a nonjudgmental, helpful way," says Stuart Matlins, publisher at Jewish Lights, which has published two recent books on interfaith marriage and family. "People in positions of authority within the Jewish community do not want to appear to be encouraging it."

Mary Helene Rosenbaum, executive director of Dovetail Institute for Interfaith Family Resources and a practicing Catholic married for 40 years to a professor of Judaic studies, puts it more bluntly. "I can't tell you how many times some bright young program director will call and book us, and when the plan to invite us percolates up, this person is going to call back and say, 'They don't want you,' " she says. (Rosenbaum said Dovetail is "radioactive" in the Jewish community because it does not push intermarrying couples toward the raise-your-kids-Jewish option.) The organization has a publishing arm offering such titles as The Interfaith Family Guidebook: Practical Advice for Jewish and Christian Partners (1998) by organization founder Joan Hawxhurst.

The state of publishing on this topic reflects this climate: a few books emerge each season, and the best live on as backlist resources. Publishers and authors know they are meeting a perennial, unsanctioned and growing need.
Rev. Susanna Stefanachi Macomb, author of Joining Hands and Hearts: Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations—A Practical Guide for Couples (Fireside, Jan.) gets calls from couples and clergy all over the world. "I got a phone call from a rabbi in Costa Rica. He was doing a wedding for a friend's daughter who was marrying a Muslim, and he wanted to know how to incorporate Muslim elements into the ceremony," says Macomb.

Her book stakes out this cutting edge, going beyond Jewish-Christian relationships to address the new unions of traditions, cultures and religions now being forged by people in their 20s and 30s. A licensed and ordained interfaith minister since 1996, Macomb has performed weddings in one of the country's multicultural epicenters, New York City. She had three publishers bid in a week's time on the book, her first, done in collaboration with writer Andrea Thompson. The book is intended for both couples and clergy, with a questionnaire for the couple, chapters on ceremonies and customs from a range of religions and cultures, and the stories of and ceremonies designed by eight couples.

Marcia Burch, v-p and director of publicity at Fireside, hopes the book will be prominently featured among the wedding books stores will highlight come spring. Since the market includes not just couples but also clergy, publicity is being aimed at religion publications and seminaries as well. Macomb has been speaking on the topic at seminaries and running out of books at those engagements, "whether we bring 20, 30 or 40," she notes.

Making a Successful Jewish Interfaith Marriage by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky with Joan Peterson Littman (Jewish Lights, Feb.) focuses on intermarriage from a Jewish perspective, offering what is billed as "straightforward and nonjudgmental advice." Olitzky, executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute and a prolific author, maintains that intermarriage offers an opportunity to increase the Jewish population if more intermarried couples are welcomed and encouraged to raise their children in Judaism. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of such intermarried households don't choose that for their children. In the same vein, Jewish Lights also published The Guide to Jewish Interfaith Family Life: An Interfaithfamily.com Handbook, edited by Ronnie Friedland and Edmund Case (2001), drawn from the titular Web site of resources for intermarried Jewish families.

Within American Christianity, interchurch marriages crossing denominational lines are also common and under-acknowledged. United in Heart, Divide in Faith: A Guide for Catholic-Protestant Couples (SunCreek, Apr.) by Sandra L. Stanko, a partner in a mixed-Christian marriage, addresses that phenomenon, targeting couples beginning relationships in addition to those committed enough to plan marriage. SunCreek is an ecumenical Christian imprint of Texas-based Catholic publisher Thomas More. "There was a need for resources for those couples from both perspectives," says SunCreek acquisitions and marketing director Debra Hampton. The book will be distributed in both the CBA and general markets. One major chain buyer told her, " "There's nothing quite like this on the market," Hampton reports.
Demographic projections show this niche growing as the country's ethnic and religious diversity offers more chances for relationship partners to cross paths, cultures and faiths in new ways. Author Macomb sees this mixing as a norm among the young people she marries, who are so used to cultural and religious variety they don't even begin to consider a potential for conflict. "When they're young and you talk about conflict in terms of religion and race," she says, "they look at you as if you're Martian."

By Marcia Z. Nelson – 3/24/2003
Special Report > Religion Update

 

***

 

From AIMS magazine in the U.K.

Joining Hands and Hearts; Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations

Susanna Stefanachi Macomb collected so much material on interfaith and  intercultural wedding celebrations that it could easily have filed a book double the size of the present one.  The text was edited by Andrea Thompson helping her to trim it down to some 300 pages.  The book is not only a very valuable source of information and practical guide for couples and clergy but is a must for interfaith ministers as well.

Susanna was ordained after studying with the New Seminary writes that 'the beloved Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, an iconoclast of a man, has been my practical and spiritual teacher'.  She has officiated at hundreds of wedding ceremonies because her approach really fulfilled a need in the intercultural environment of New York City.  She gives some figures indicating that, depending on the particular church, one-third to two-thirds of marriages are now interfaith.  She has been featured in several wedding magazine articles and on TV.

The first chapter is titled: 'What is Interfaith? A Philosophy of the Heart'  and she answers that  'the teachings of the founders of the world's great religions - the words of Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Lao Tzu, Buddha - are essentially universal.'  This message is  encapsulated in a few lines of a poem she quotes:

God is one, but his names are many.   Religion is one, but its ways are many.

She mentions that she grew up in a 'traditional Catholic family' but, corresponding very much with my own experience, she writes: 'It is through the discipline and practice of Hindu meditation that I have had the mystical experience of God, known as samadhi.... I have been meditating daily for fifteen years.  The practice of meditation ... has not only profoundly affected my life, but transformed it.'  I can only add a profound Amen to that.

This experience gave her the insight to expand upon a saying of Gandhi: '.... that in some way I am Christian, I am Jewish, I am Muslim, I am Hindu, I am Buddhist, I am Taoist, I am Sufi, I am Native American.'  She states that an 'interfaith or intercultural marriage to me represents one of our universal best hopes of moving toward a promised land, where people of all religions, creeds and colors live side by side, hand in hand, honoring and celebrating both their uniqueness and their commonality.... This is our hope for peace.'

The next chapters are dedicated to customize the event to a specific couple using an extensive questionnaire.  She goes into the practicalities of family matters and rehearsal, while technicalities like not throwing rice because it can harm birds, use of microphone and music are not forgotten.  The licensing details are of course geared to her local US situation.  Subsequently the ceremony is covered in much detail, some of which is optional and decided upon in close consultation with couple and family. 

As an admirer of Tolstoy, Gandhi and Fritz Schumacher, this Buddhist quotation appealed very much to me:

Let them be fervent, upright, and sincere, without conceit of self, easily contented and joyous, free of cares, let them not be submerged by the things of the world; let them not take upon themselves the burden of worldly goods; let their senses be controlled; let them be wise but not puffed up, and let them not desire great possessions even for their families.

In the same spirit she quotes the Dalai Lama: 'There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  My own brain, my own heart is my temple; the philosophy is kindness.'

And because also Jesus declares that his Kingdom is not of this world, I would like to ask you to keep these essential messages in mind if you are pondering a Rolls Royce or expensive city centre hotel wedding.

Part II of the book is written as a Manual covering wedding rituals and traditions in different cultures.  First she quotes many universal passages suitable for almost any wedding.  Then for fourteen different religious traditions, ranging from Baha'i via Confucianism, Native American to Zoroastrianism, she gives a summary of its teachings followed by many specific quotations.  Then she moves on to the cultural heritage of traditions as far apart as Afghani, Chinese, Irish, Latvian, Russian and Swiss.  This collection covers forty seven different traditions filling thirty pages.   From it I learned that 'Lavender in the bride's bouquet is said by the Dutch to bring good luck."  I checked this with my 96 years old mother, but she did not remember that tradition at all.  Probably it is a custom still kept by early Dutch colonists of the New World, but forgotten in their home country.

Part III gives eight interfaith, intercultural wedding ceremonies in all their details, while in an Epilogue she refers to the shock of living at ground zero and witnessing from nearby the events of September 2001.  She concludes that 'Interfaith dialogue is now needed more than ever' and adds: 'Throughout this book I have said that interfaith, intercultural and interracial unions embody the meaning of respect, tolerance and understanding.  We can learn from them.'   Elsewhere she quotes from the Hadith, the words of Muhammad:

Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms, and prayer?
Making peace between one another:
enmity and malice tear up heaven's rewards by the roots. 

And also from the magnificent dream of Martin Luther King: "all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestant and Catholics will be able to join hands."   On the penultimate page she quotes that great peace activist Gandhi:

My effort should never be to undermine another's faith
but to make him a better follower of his own faith.

Susanna dedicates the book 'to all couples and their families who have given me the privilege of walking by their sides.  It has been a sacred walking.'  She welcomes interfaith, intercultural, interracial love stories and ceremonies for future editions of Joining Hands and Hearts.  So 'if you do decide “to share your spirits and your love”, contact her via: www.interfaithweddingceremony.com or at: www.susannamacomb.com

Not only do I recommend this book very much to anyone of you who plans to officiate at interfaith wedding ceremonies, but also as a testimony to a life changed by a regular meditation practice.   In her own words: 'By the grace of God, I have been blessed.'

The book was not available via the bookshops I checked upon, but can be ordered from Amazon for £ 8.69.

Joop van Montfoort                                                              15 June 2003

 

 

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