Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – February 2011 – pre-synod press reports

updated Tuesday lunchtime to include statement from William Fittall, and link to podcast.

There were rather fewer journalists than usual at yesterday’s press briefing for next month’s General Synod; a rival attraction featuring Father Keith Newton had been called at short notice.

The only articles in today’s press that I have seen are these two, about a request for additional texts in the baptism service:
Steve Doughty in the Mail Online: The christening without much Christianity: Anglican church offers ‘baptism lite’ to attract non-worshippers
A “Staff Reporter” in the Liverpool Echo: Church of England plea to make church services less baffling for non-churchgoers

Another item on the synod’s agenda is a debate on parochial fees which attracted some advance attention in the press over the weekend.
Jonathan Wynne-Jones in The Telegraph: Couples face higher fee to marry in church
Jonathan Petre in the Mail Online: Clergy anger over plan to raise church wedding fees by 50%
Sean Nash at Wedding News: Plans to raise cost of church weddings opposed by some vicars

Church House Westminster has given me the following statement in relation to the above.

William Fittall, Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council said:

“The General Synod agreed last summer a new and clearer framework for the future setting of fees for weddings and funerals. The present situation is unclear and unsatisfactory, and can lead to discrepancies between fees charged by churches across the country.

“Fee income represents a small part of the Church’s income – the vast majority comes from parishioners’ donations. The legislation was not prepared with a view to producing any fundamental change in overall fee income.

“Next month, General Synod will discuss some principles and proposals relating to how fees are set, but will not be taking any decisions on specific fee levels. These are due to be decided by the Archbishops’ Council in a few months’ time and brought to Synod for agreement.

“The Church of England remains committed to providing ministry to all those in the nation who want it, irrespective of their ability to pay.”

I have linked to the online synod papers here, although the fees paper is not yet available.

Also now available is this podcast: Clerk to Synod David Williams takes us through the agenda for February Synod.

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Father Ron SmithSara MacVaneErika BakerCynthia GilliattPeter Owen Recent comment authors
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Seeker after truth
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Seeker after truth
Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

If people are worried about excluding couples who can’t afford the cost, why not just tie the fee to the total cost of the wedding? Couples with a lavish wedding and a big budget can surely afford a higher fee, whilst couples with a simple wedding and a tight budget would pay less.

10% sounds about right to me.

Neil
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Neil

‘but the figures vary from parish to parish and the total often include hidden charges for “extras” such as musicians and flower-arrangers.’ There are often comments about ‘extras’ in weddings as if somehow this was a hidden way of the church getting extra income. It simply isn’t. The fees for musicians go to them. Period. And similarly with flowers and bells etc. I do tire of this myth which suggests churches are raking it as a result of ‘extras’. It makes absolutely no financial difference to them whether the marriage couple wish to employ the services of an organist or… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

I’m confused by the stories about Baptism ‘lite,’ not having access to the liturgical texts in question. Can someone explain more clearly what is at issue? Is it length of service? Language within the service – and if so, what precisely about it? Too formal? Too archaic? The other question is about the fees for weddings and funerals: I can’t tell whether there is a national policy or not. Are the national ones advisory only? In the States, as you might expect, each church, with the rector and vestry working together, can set its own wedding and funeral policies, including… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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I was rather astonished to hear that the C of E charges people for funerals. But as far as wedding costs go, when the average wedding runs at about twenty thousand pounds, a church fee amounting to one forty-fourth of that doesn’t seem too steep to me…

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Thanks, Peter, for the clarification and links. Could not some of the baptism concerns be taken care of during pre-baptismal sessions with parents and sponsors? In the States we have an option for marriage that you may not: the marriage takes place in the context of regular Sunday Eucharistic worship. This is often the choice of older couples who are past the Bridezilla stage of life and/or no longer feel an obligation to fulfill weddinglust of mother of the bride. And of course TEC churches are not obliged to do weddings for anyone who just drifts in the door and… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“For instance, one TEC church in Texas explicitly forbids anyone from carrying a gun, at rehearsal or the ceremony itself”

Clearly, Texas does not condone shotgun weddings!

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

I quite like the idea of a wedding fee set at 10% of the overall cost. I regularly suggest that to couples as an appropriate ‘tithe’, though no one has taken me up on it yet.

Father Ron Smith
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It has always seemed odd to me that couples would be quite willing to pay the photographer lots of money for photographs, whereas the maintenance of the historic church buiding and the professional quality of the Marriage Service are not deemed to be of at least equal value to the happy pics.