Thinking Anglicans

General Synod agenda – news and comment

Updated 29 June

Following last week’s release of the papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod there have been a number of press reports and online comments.

Church Times
Porn, but not Pride, on General Synod’s York agenda
New report on Clergy Discipline Measure to go to General Synod
Wedding fees should be slashed, Blackburn diocese argues

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK July Synod: plans for “net zero carbon” by 2030

Telegraph
Scrap ‘unjust’ wedding fees to make marriage more affordable, urge vicars
Wealthy church parishes could give to poorer neighbours under C of E plans
Porn site age verification would stop ‘distorted’ sexualisation of children, say clergy

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David Rowett
David Rowett
1 month ago

Sigh, wedding fees. Has Blackburn Diocesan Synod actually looked at the breakdown of wedding costs on the average wedding website? The only things I could find on one list cheaper than the Church were the bride’s shoes (£200) and the attendance of a registrar (for some reason given as £300, the N Lincs scale of charges is Monday to Thursday – £331 Friday – £346 Saturday before 1pm or after 3pm – £416 Saturday between 1pm and 3pm – £466 Sunday and bank holidays – £471) We have the ability to waive local church fees, do we not, in case of… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  David Rowett
1 month ago

Blackburn are deluded if they think the fee structure puts couples off from getting married in church. As you say clerics can waive any part of the current fees in the case of need, I did so from time to time. The truth is that most couples have no connection to a church and no religious belief; why wouldn’t they choose a posh hotel or a stately home? Couples can choose a lavish civil ceremony or a simple occasion in the council’s smallest ceremony room Monday – Thursday for a few quid. As I say I don’t think that the… Read more »

Dave
Dave
Reply to  David Rowett
1 month ago

Oh no! Not the bride’s shoes cost so much so thats alright we can charge high fees. Actually more pastoral sensitivity needs to enter here. Here is an example I have given elsewhere.. A friend’s daughter wanted a quiet wedding just ten people in all. No music, No flowers etc. Their local parish church quoted them over £750 . (this included vergers’ fees (apparently two were needed for this quiet ceremony) totalling £200, and a church admin fee – for what? – of ‘£47.50’ The local register office quoted only £350 for a ceremony in the Town Hall ‘small banquet hall’.… Read more »

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

I suspect the local parish church may have been breaking the law in levying an ‘admin fee’ for a wedding. The statutory fee for a wedding in a C of E church explicitly includes administration costs… Also it is not obligatory to have a verger at a wedding – it’s optional, however much it helps the priest to have one. The fee for a verger is set locally. It would still be cheaper to have the smallest ceremony at a registry office than in the church at the minimum standard statutory fee ‘package’, unless the Parochial Church Council waived all… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

“the Scottish Episcopal church makes no charge at all for weddings”. Neither does the Church of Ireland (at least in the Republic). Nor for funerals. Musicians generally play gratis since they know the families.There may even be a free wake laid on.

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

Presumably because the churches in question are generally only likely to be conducting the solemnisations of marriages of people who are members of the congregation in some way, shape manner or form? What does the Church of Scotland do, I wonder?

And can the ECS or CI clergy acts as registrars, as we do in the CofE or does a registrar have to be brought in at the statutory fee? Genuinely don’t know, and would appreciate some inside info.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  David Rowett
1 month ago

Oh yes, you are correct about the CoI. Rectors are in effect Protestant community shamans – chaplains to members of the sect. In Portlaiose I was always invited to civic events and often officiated alongside the catholic PP, but this is part of the “we must show that we are no longer ruled from Maynooth” effort. The CoI punches well above its weight – but for how much longer? I have it on good authority that there are or soon will be more Muslims in the Republic than CoIs. In the Republic the cleric performs the ceremony only after the… Read more »

John Barton
John Barton
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

For the record, Vergers’ fees are optional and an admin fee is illegal.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  John Barton
1 month ago

That may well be true John, however are couples in a position to know that especially in parishes which are levying such fees. For myself I don’t understand it – is it to say the church can set vergers’ fees and the couple can say we don’t want to pay them – and they still get a verger?
There seems a lack of transparency here.

John Barton
John Barton
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

Yes, Dave. Wedding fees are fixed by Parliament. Optional extras are not. Most churches do not have a Verger, but the function is often carried out by a volunteer. Couples may not be compelled to pay a fee for this, but may be invited to do so. My recent experience is that 95% do so willingly.

It is for the Incumbent/PCC to make all this clear. Alas, some do not do so, probably because they are ignorant of the law.

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  John Barton
1 month ago

And I didn’t mention in my post above that some churches levy a ‘photography fee’ for a wedding… Justification?!

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  John Barton
1 month ago

it is also illegal to ask for a deposit for the statutory fees element of a C of E wedding. You could ask for a deposit against the local fees but they usually total much less than the statutory fees.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

I think I paid about £70 when I got married 18 years ago as a broke student, but then I got married in my university chapel.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  David Rowett
1 month ago

When the Trussell Trust distributed 2.1m food parcels last year and the minimum wage is still under £10 an hour, arguing that c. £340 is reasonable reminds me of a certain someone telling people to eat cake. Even £200 is too high.

Time share companies actually pay people to attend presentations in the hopes that one or two may join. That’s how the church should see weddings – a fantastic mission opportunity. Rather than spending on church plants, imagine the money going to making weddings free for everyone.

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

I see the occasional offices as fantastic mission opportunities too – including baptisms, for which no fee is charged. I have to say that we still await the rush of enthusiastic converts and enquirers….

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

But Kate, doesn’t the timeshare industry have a different modus operandi and ethos from Holy Mother Church? I mean, it is unduly fond of slick advertising campaigns which will entice people to consider signing up for something they never thought they needed or wanted, so that the gullible few will be suckered into forking out vast sums of money for what is often a dodgy, dubiously regulated product.

Oh, wait, I see what you mean…;-)

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