Policies & Building Use

Dumbarton Church Building Use Policy

Our mission:

Dumbarton United Methodist Church (DUMC) envisions the use of church facilities and equipment, when available, as a mission of service to our neighborhood and the extended community of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and the wider world.


The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline gives the pastor of every congregation authority over the use of church buildings, grounds and other facilities. At Dumbarton United Methodist Church, the review and approval of requests from outside organizations to use DUMC facilities is delegated to a the Trustees. Decisions of this group are subject to the review of the Pastor.

DUMC and its authorities reserve the right to disapprove any application for use without comment.

DUMC’s decisions shall be guided by the following considerations and restrictions:

Priority of use:

Priority of use of DUMC facilities shall be given to church functions and to DUMC mission groups, committees, task forces, working groups, education classes or other established program groups for their programs and activities.

Events sponsored by the Baltimore-Washington Conference also have priority should the conference wish to hold an event in the Dumbarton facilities.

DUMC mission or program relevance:

As a general rule, any outside organization applying for use of DUMC facilities must either have a role or function related to a DUMC mission or program OR the mission, focus, and/or merits of the program and the outside group requesting the use of space must be consistent with the mission and values of Dumbarton Church.

Application required:

Every applicant for the use of DUMC facilities shall complete an application form providing detailed information about the organization and responding to questions regarding the nature and purpose of the event. To complete an application, please use this form and allow at least 2 business days for a response.

Weddings Guidelines

Dumbarton’s Ministry of Weddings

Dumbarton United Methodist Church recognizes and honors opportunities to be in ministry with couples who decide to marry. When two people come together in life and spirit and develop a primary, committed relationship, the church is often asked to celebrate and bless the wedding of their lives and spirits.

A wedding is a religious celebration wherein two persons ask for God’s blessing; declare and affirm their faith, love and commitment before God and their community; commit their common journey into the hands of God; reconcile themselves with God and with each other; and join their lives to the fullest of their capacity.

We offer our space and ministerial service to couples who seek to be married. We extend this ministry to members and non-members alike, seeing weddings as an opportunity to nurture the shared life journeys of members and to extend hospitality and witness to non-members.

Consideration of Requests

Couples seeking to be married in the church will meet with the appointed pastor-in-charge or that person’s designee. Together they will review these guidelines and determine whether the timing of the wedding, the restrictions on use of the facility, the couple’s willingness to participate in counseling, and the availability of an authorized celebrant to officiate indicate that it is likely a wedding can be held at Dumbarton UMC.

The Role of Clergy

Authorized celebrants officiating at marriages fill a dual role—as an agent of the state authorized to officiate at marriages and as a spiritual leader for the church in witnessing and offering blessings for the marriage. Authorized celebrants presiding at weddings at Dumbarton may be filling either or both of these roles. Typically, both the legal and ecclesial roles are fulfilled simultaneously, but sometimes a couple’s unique circumstances may dictate otherwise (for example, some couples may be legally married by a justice of the peace and separately seek a church wedding).

We are blessed to have many persons in the congregation who are authorized and willing to officiate at weddings. The pastor-in-charge will discuss with the couple which authorized celebrants are available and most appropriate for their wedding. In consultation with the appointed pastor-in-charge, other authorized celebrants not associated with Dumbarton UMC may be invited to participate and/or officiate at weddings upon the couple’s request.

Premarital Counseling

In accordance with the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, couples wishing to be married at Dumbarton will be expected to share in appropriate premarital counseling. Options for premarital counseling may include sessions conducted by the authorized celebrant, by a family counselor/therapist, or other appropriate arrangement. In premarital counseling, couples are invited to discuss topics such as communication, the meaning of marriage and covenant, spirituality; finances; household responsibilities; sexuality; relationships with children and extended family; careers; etc.

Thank you for considering Dumbarton UMC as the place for your wedding.

Guidelines for Couples Wishing to be Married at Dumbarton UMC or by Dumbarton UMC Authorized Celebrants

Following are the steps to follow to arrange a wedding at Dumbarton UMC:

1.    Schedule a meeting with the pastor-in-charge or the pastor-in-charge’s designee. This initial meeting will include a review of Dumbarton’s wedding guidelines, a tour of the facility and a discussion of your plans and ideas for your wedding.

2.    Contact the church administrator to reserve the time and space for your wedding.  Submit the signed Building Use agreement with the security deposit as stated therein.

3.    Schedule the agreed upon premarital counseling. If it is to be conducted by someone other than the officiating pastor, please provide a letter from the counselor confirming its completion at least two weeks before your scheduled wedding.

4.    Make arrangements for music for your ceremony. Dumbarton’s Director of Music Ministry may be available to play piano; fees and details should be negotiated directly with them.  

5.    Discuss and gain the approval of the authorized celebrant and church administrator for all decorations, floral design plans, musicians and music selections; and the design and format of the wedding service (any unusual elements will be carefully considered for appropriateness, such as involving animals in the service, etc.).

6.    Ensure that donations and fees for building use, authorized celebrant, and musicians are paid at least one week before the wedding. Suggested donation for the authorized celebrant team is $1,000.00.

7.    Fulfill all the responsibilities listed in the Building Use Agreement. In addition, please note the following wedding-specific issues that have become important in our efforts to protect the integrity of our historic building:

a.    At no time may rice or bird seed be thrown, nor balloons released.

b.    Bubbles may only be used outside of the building.

c.    Candles may be used with appropriate arrangements made for dripping wax.

d.    Decorations may not be put in place using tape, tacks, nails, thumbtacks, metal wire, screws, glue, or by any other means that would mar or damage the wood or the walls.

e.    All decorations should be designed to sit on a flower stand or in a window sill; be free standing; or be attached to the rail or pews with ribbon or chenille-covered wire.

8.    Depending on your plans, you may be required to utilize a Building Use Consultant (see Building Use Agreement) who will be on site to receive deliveries and to supervise any decorating and/or rearrangement of the building’s furniture; unlock the building, be on site through the event, and secure the building when the event is over; and be responsible for turning on and off the heat and the lights. (In some cases, the authorized celebrant may be willing to serve as the Building Use Consultant.)

9.    In most cases, the church building will be open and available to the wedding party two hours before the start of the wedding and up to one hour following the conclusion of the service