Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – July 2011 – more on the agenda

Margaret Duggan has a detailed preview of next month’s General Synod agenda in the Church Times: Small groups and a ‘big idea’ for Synod in York.

My list of online synod papers is now, I think, complete.

One item of synod business is the order setting parochial fees for 2012 to 2014. As well as the draft order itself there is an explanatory memorandum and a rationale.

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

Amendments to the Order are permissible. Any member who wishes to give notice of an amendment must do so in writing to the Clerk to the Synod not later than 5.30 p.m. on Thursday 7 July 2011.

The Fees Order will only come into effect if it is passed by Synod; if it is not passed the current scale of fees will continue to apply.

There has been some not necessarily totally accurate reporting of these proposals.
Steve Doughty in the Mail Online: End of ‘Ryanair’ fees for church weddings where choirs and organists are extra
John Bingham in the Telegraph: For poorer: cost of church weddings to rise 50pc

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AndrewErika BakerA J BarfordFather Ron SmithJean Mary Mayland Recent comment authors
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Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

This was reported on ‘You and Yours’ at lunchtime Friday on BBC Radio 4. The guest from a bridal magazine agreed that the total average cost of a wedding is now around £16,000 and the increase in church fees (much of which is previous separate items rolled up into an overall fee) was infinitesimal compared to the other costs. And why is £100 for a choir seen as exorbitant? A choir of ten adults would get £10 each for more than an hour’s attendance (by the time they have arrived, changed, waited for the bride, sung and changed back) plus… Read more »

Kennedy
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Kennedy

Our idea was to make the church fees a percentage of the overall cost of the wedding.

Some ideas are doomed to failure….

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

The important thing about this is that the fee is to be paid to the PCC and Diocesan Board of Finance and not the Incumbent (who then has it docked from his stipend if s/he hasn’t signed a deed of assignment).This saves some hassle and ,more important, prevents add ons in particular churches for “use of church” or “Use of clerk/verger” or “heating”. The increase in fees will mean a gain for some churches but a loss for others..and so create a level playing field.And still, all things considered, a pretty cheap one.

Anne
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Anne

As priest in charge of a church where we have always scrupulously stuck to the statutory fee, plus £25 for a verger, and adding a small amount for heating in the winter months, the new wedding fee will represent a huge hike for us. At the moment the basic charge before organ, choir etc. is £312.50, so it will be a big leap up to £425. I am very concerned about the fact that this will come in in Jan 2012. We already have six weddings booked for next year – couples often book well over a year in advance.… Read more »

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

Escalating wedding fees for impoverished young couples? No wonder the term ‘mutual society’ has become painfully stale…

Old Father William
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Old Father William

A friend of mine used to like to terrify brides and grooms by telling them that the church expected a tithe of the amount that they were spending on everything else. He wasn’t serious, but perhaps it did help to put things in perspective for them.

A J Barford
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A J Barford

“the church expected a tithe” – OFW

What? Like the extortionate parish share?

Jean Mary Mayland
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Jean Mary Mayland

There is a myth abroad that all weddings cost thousands .That just is not true. I know many couples who are struggling especially in areas like the NE. Even the best hotel in Hexham offers a ‘package’ with rooms, registrar, ceremony, flowers, sit down meal for 30 and disco for 100 for £2,500. A lovely wedding dress can be bought from a small local shop for £325 A church wedding , plus cars and reception let alone with choir and bells, becomes far too expensive. No wonder more and more people seek a cheap friendly hotel package. To get married… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“What? Like the extortionate parish share?”

Would you have the same small group of pensioners on a fixed income in a pretty village church subsidise the weddings for well off couples who then go to have their reception at venues that charge £2000 hire before a single drink has been served, as well as fund the parish share?

I suppose parishes could set up a hardship fund or have some arrangment whereby the don’t pass on the full costs of weddings to hard up couples. That doesn’t mean that the average wedding couple can’t contribute a more realistic amount.

Jean Mary Mayland
Guest
Jean Mary Mayland

When my husband was a Parish Priest conducting at least 70 weddings a year( fees to Diocese) he regarded it as a great pastoral opportunity and did so with care. Now weddings seem to be regarded as ‘money making concerns’. The Church is thought of as a club and ‘they from outside’ must pay through the nose for its services.This is appalling.The church exists to serve all those in its care( William Temple) and marriage is a ‘gift of God in creation’. It is myth that all people spend tens of thousands on their wedding. I know many struggling couples… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Apologies, I just read the paper again properly and realised I hadn’t appreciated the total increase for Weddings.
It is certainly an exorbitant sum!

Wouldn’t it make more sense for individual churches to be able to set their own fees within a prescribed range?
That should take into account their location, their average wedding couple’s ability to pay etc.

I stand by what I wrote earlier, most of wedding couples spend an absolute fortune on their reception and the church is by far the smallest element in it.
But every church ought to be able to take its own unique position into account.

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

Erika,

I feel that parishes should host weddings entirely free of charge. After all, if the flower ladies decorate churches so lovingly without charging a penny, why can’t ministers, vergers, organists and choristers? If wealthier couples wish to make a voluntary donation to parish funds, then so be it.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

A Barford You could, of course, try to persuade all these people that they somehow have a moral obligation to provide even more of their time free of charge, on summer Saturdays not of their own choosing. But you can certainly not just assume that they would be willing to do that. Choristers need to replace their robes every now and then, choirs need music, they pay for a music license, bell ringers pay to have the bells maintained in good order, our organist travels for miles to get to our church. Why should the church absorb all those costs… Read more »

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

“assets” – Erika

I know, I was a PCC treasurer once upon a time.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

One might hope that a wedding where at least one of the couple was an active church member would be offered for a lot less than the commercial rate – which should only be offered to ‘passing trade’. Perhaps each couple could be assessed on their ability to pay – in proportion to what they intend to spend on the rest of the wedding arrangements. Is a wedding no longer seen as a pastoral opportunity, where a couple’s preparation might be taken seriously, and with a view to the encouragement of a living relationship to the church which is providing… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr Ron Absolutely! That’s why I said earlier that I would like it if churches had discretion to charge within a range of fees. And of course the couple’s preparation is being taken seriously. The priest spends hours talking to them, they become a member of our congregation for 6 months, every church group is open to them. The question is whether pastoral preparation also requires the laying on of a full service on a special day of the couple’s choosing that requires the attendance of all bell ringers, all choir members, at least one churchwarden and the priest. But,… Read more »

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

This hypocrisy is why I refuse to be on the electoral role of any parish, Erika

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Now it’s my turn to be cryptic:
Hypocrisy?

Maybe you could, please, explain what you’re actually talking about?

A J Barford
Guest
A J Barford

“Hypocrisy?”

…the fact that you are precluded from marriage vows at the church because of who you are, whereas these fly-by-night couples can.

It stinks.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ah yes, that hypocrisy! I’m with you on that!

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The easy way to avoid all this is to have a Church Tax as levied in other Countries, so that ‘The Parish Church’, part of our heritage, is actually financed by ‘The Parish’ rather than the few who attend it. Then we need have no fees at all – they would simply be included within the tax. (But try and get the C of E to listen to such a proposal!)