Thinking Anglicans

Parochial Fees

General Synod is now in session. One item of business is the Parochial Fees Order which sets fees for weddings and funerals in the Church of England. Synod will be asked to approve the order during its afternoon session tomorrow (Saturday).

Justin Lewis-Anthony has written this for Cif belief: Fees, managerialism and the death of the Church of England.
“Churches must be allowed to set their own fees for funerals and weddings. Let’s hope the synod rejects the parochial fees order.”

These are the official papers issued to synod members for this item of business.

GS 1832 The Parochial Fees Order 2011
GS 1832X Explanatory Memorandum
GS Misc 989 2012-2014 Fees Order – Rationale

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A J Barford
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A J Barford

The Parochial fees Order typifies everything that has gone wrong with the Church of England – the obsession with money.

This came across very clearly this morning during BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when the Bishop of Rochester was interviewed.

During the interview, it was apparent that the main concern was with transparency of fees – satisfying the requirements of International Accounting standards no doubt. No mention of what the purpose of marriage is, no mention of ‘mutual society’ of even love, just money.

The interviewer even introduced the bishop as the Michael Leary of the C of E. Ouch!

A J Barford
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A J Barford

“the fees from occasional services keep them open and serving their communities” – Justin Lewis-Anthony

That may be so, but it kind of misses the point about marriage. At least it is obvious church fetes are for fundraising purposes. Separately recognised in ‘incoming resources’ on the top half of the Statement of Financial Activities / Receipt and Payments, it is evident that wedding fees are a major cash cow for pretty churches.

For overseas TA readers, Michael O’Leary is CEO of Ryannair which has been criticised for hidden costs. A better comparison might have been EasyJet where costs are more transparent.

Dave
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Dave

This is a cost based approach, probably poorly applied. The church should recognise that the proportion of marriage is part of it’s ministry. Accordingly fees should be set at a level which is never a disincentive to a church marriage. Every parish should be able to provide the service at a set fee possibly using an alternative building. There is no reason why those who want to be married in prestigious locations should not pay extra. Cathedrals, college chapels etc. should find their own way and this would not affect the overall ministry.