C of E raises funeral fee to £160

Charles Cowling

The Church of England’s General Synod has just announced a rise in the fee payable to a priest for officiating at a funeral to £160. 

The fee takes into account both admin and also the heating and lighting of the church. 

There’s no information available yet on whether this fee will apply also to crematorium funerals.

But any increase in the C of E fee is, of course, good news for secular celebrants. 

Story in the Guardian here

 

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susie
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susie

i always thought the church and the vicar were free, when did it become a product

Mathew Bartlett
Guest

I’m the minister of a small independent chapel in South Wales. I only take maybe 6 or 7 funerals per year (always people I know) but I’ve never charged, neither has the church, nor the organist. That saves a bereaved family at least some money – we aren’t rich round here, and some have no insurance. My average time in funeral preparation and attendance is at least 12 hours. On minimum wage I suppose my work is worth about £70. I’d only charge if I was ever asked to take a stranger’s funeral, but I’d have to do more work… Read more »

Evelyn
Guest

Ah Matthew Bartlett, that’s the way chapel is supposed to be – is it not? With a minister who knows his congregation, sees them into the world…who walks beside them, through life’s triumphs and tragedies and plain ordinary living, and then out of it with care and compassion. Tis a great pity that every church minister in the land does not seem to care, as much you do, about his/her flock.

Paul Ayers
Guest
Paul Ayers

This is an interesting discussion. I am a vicar, and a member of the General Synod which authorised the change of fees, after many years of debate, and with the approval of Parliament. In the Church of England, the funeral fee goes partly to the local Parochial Church Council towards maintaining ministry locally, and partly to the Diocese from which the clergy are paid. So the minister doesn’t keep any of the fee, it is offset against his/her stipend, no matter how many funerals he/she conducts. I am appalled that some clergy apparently do not visit the bereaved and plan… Read more »

John Wilson
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John Wilson

When I lived in London I sometimes played the organ for as many as 10 funeral services at the crematorium in a day. Most of the funerals were conducted by Church of England Clergy. With a few exceptions, it was obvious that those presiding had had no meaningful dialogue with the family before the service and knew only the barest details of the deceaseds life. The clergy of the Church of England are paid a stepend which is a nice euphemism for what the rest of us call a salary and enjoy other perks such as grace and favour houses… Read more »

susie
Guest
susie

so very very true,,,and they wonder why the churches are empty,,,another profitable business,,,no charity here

sweetpea
Guest
sweetpea

Claire, that’s an interesting suggestion. But I’m not sure I’d trust my livelihood (or that of the fd) to the vaguaries of the British public. It’s something we celebrants don’t often hear about. An fd has only ever commented to me on the amount left in the collection on three occasions – all with large congregations. One where there was so much money left on the plate the fd had to put his hat out for the remainder, and there was £1000 in one envelope alone; one where the widow directly asked for money for herself and her daughters and… Read more »

gloriamundi
Guest

Retiring collection for funeral costs – only once, in my work so far, and that was for a slightly desperate and broke situation. There was a degree of shamefacedness about it, which I thought was a pity – excellent, practical suggestion, that worked well. I even put in a groat meself.(Tax-deductible, of course…)

claire Callender
Guest

I can never understand why the retiring collection is never for the cost of the funeral. In all the times I suggest this only once has it happened, and everyone was very happy to donate.
Sorry maybe a smidge ‘off topic’

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[…] It was interesting to follow the unfolding debate amongst funeral directors and celebrants in response the blog post ‘C of E raises funeral fee to £160′ here. […]

sweetpea
Guest
sweetpea

I really want fds to sit in on ceremonies which I take – apart from a family’s reaction to the celebrant, how else are they to get any impression of whom they have engaged? I’ve worked with nearly 50 different fds, and sadly, Jenny, I can only think of five ‘conductors’ who regularly attend the actual funeral service. Although one independent in particular has all the bearers in too. I’m sorry for Mr XX’s experiences with both clergy and celebrants – it is a disgrace, and not at all what forward-thinking celebrants would consider a desirable state of affairs. But… Read more »

Jenny Uzzell
Guest

What seems to be emerging from this discussion is that celebrants are like FDs, some are ok but nothing special, some are terrible and some (the minority) are outstanding. I suspect it is very much in the interests of the ‘outstanding’ in both categories to find and work with each other where they can. We have a very close association with an outstanding celebrant who we recommend to most clients who are not sure what they want and are not followers of a particular faith. He is always excellent and families tell us what a difference he has made to… Read more »

Mr XX
Guest
Mr XX

I would love an enthusiastic dedicated celebrant to do exactly that. And a religious minister. No-one has, perhaps because such a person doesn’t exist in my area?

My theory has always been that flowers are bought generously principally because when the people that we loved and cared for die, we want to ‘do something.’ As not everyone can be involved in the arrangement, we buy flowers.

Ru Callender
Guest

Neatly skewers the imbalanced nature of how the cost of a funeral is measured and arrived at. The fact that often the flowers cost more than the celebrant is truly bizarre. Do they really contribute more to the tone of a funeral than what is said? (Don’t answer that Mr XX.) I don’t understand why good celebrants don’t ’embed’ themselves with an understanding fd. The fd gets a totally committed celebrant, hell, perhaps even a help at the other end of the stretcher. The celebrant gets to be involved with the body and so deepen their relationship with the family.… Read more »

Kathryn Edwards
Guest
Kathryn Edwards

With you, GM, on not being a celebrant full-time. I feel the need to complement the work by doing other things in the world, to refresh myself after such encounters, to fill up my story-hoard, to exercise different mental muscles.

So many jobs probably shouldn’t be full-time . . .

gloriamundi
Guest

I’m with Jonathan; only my view, and maybe I’m unusually frail, but I don’t see celebrancy as suited to full-time, every day of the week work. We need to be reflective, we need to focus on one family at a time. Jonathen’s fee seems entirely reasonable for a really good, unforgettable funeral.
Mr XX generalises, presumably from his own part of the country. He seems resdy to generalise about the entire country. Families in his area are getting a raw deal, if his observations are fair. I suggest Mr XX follows James’ sage and elegant advice.

Kathryn Edwards
Guest
Kathryn Edwards

‘Worth their weight in flowers’: what a gorgeous concept, dear poetic James!

Vale
Guest
Vale

Tell you what, good or bad, it levels the playing field a bit.

james showers
Guest

I am truly astonished that The good mr xx suffers and puts up with such a low level of performance from celebrants that appear to dominate in his neck of the woods. Especially ssince he recognises a top class one (see ‘Kathryn’, above). Just get rid of the duffers! There are others out there! Celebrants who think, care co-create, and deliver a fantastic, personal, devotional service. Go search, research, bring them in by taxi, pay more if you have to – it’s a spit of the total cost: and if it’s the difference between a funeral the family remember with… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

And yes, Kathryn, it is was a serious error of judgement on the part of the early funeral celebrants – correct me if I’m wrong but I believe it was the Humanist Association – to invite comparison with (or rather comparison to, in many ways) a religious service by adopting the same fee structure. We still have to explain that what we do is not something that it is not, instead of being able to describe what it is, thereby only colluding with the default position that we are trying to depose from its spurious throne.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Mr XX, you paint a depressing picture of the average celebrant. I’d be interested to hear others-in-the-trade’s views; I suspect your experience may not be unique, alas.

Mr XX
Guest
Mr XX

You sound like a very exceptional celebrant Kathryn. I’m afraid that my observations fairly represent current practise in the funeral process. The bereaved are paying too much for a truly terrible service. It’s rubbish.

Kathryn Edwards
Guest
Kathryn Edwards

I’m with Jonathan here: co-creating two funerals a week would be more than enough at the level of depth and thoroughness that I choose. Mr XX’s account of someone doing ten a week is truly mind-boggling: such a practice would need to be formulaic and in a tight geographical radius. My head explodes at the very thought of it. There’s a lot of reflection and rumination, to be sure. And visits (in my practice, invariably more than one) to various of the bereaved. I sometimes participate in activities involving the dead person: dressing the body, say, or sitting with it,… Read more »

Mr XX
Guest
Mr XX

Very interesting comments. My local non attached Minister, currently charges £140 for a service at the local crem. In common with the other one we use, he only ever phones the family in advance of the day and often make a service last just 15 or so minutes. Most local civil celebrants charge £180 plus, but do usually go and see the family first. One very in demand local woman, is certainly doing up to ten funerals in a typical week. A nice living? Local clergy, (C of E or Catholic) are also usually phone only merchants. I see and… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I charge £185 for celebrancy; a fiver above your max, GM, and it’s still only £11 an hour after an average of a hundred miles travelling (£20’s worth of petrol in my car, not counting wear and tear), at fifteen hours of work per funeral. If I were ABLE (thanks, church of England!) to charge a fair and realistic fee, it’d have to be at least £250, which would mean £25k a year before tax at two funerals a week. Even that’s not a slab of cash by any standard (certainly not a funeral director’s or a florist’s or a… Read more »

gloriamundi
Guest

I like that, Bryan, excellent scheme – pay by results. Minimum fee, for turning up and being able to walk and talk – national minimum wage. Max £180, with discretionary bonuses if the family wish (or “tip,” as one might say.)Judgement to be made by family ONLY. There are excellent FDs who take an active and critical interest in the ceremony, and others who could be watching paint dry. Mind you, perhaps they sometimes have to do so…

Bryan
Guest

Personally I think they should be paid by performance. If the service is rubbish and just read out of a book I could have got a spotty youth to do that at £6 an hour. If the service is brilliant, they’ve met the family, spent time personalising the service and are going to follow up afterwards then they deserve every penny of the £120-180 range we tend to see.

As I’ve said before it’s more about matching the right celebrant to the family.

Ariadne
Guest
Ariadne

Ah Gloria.
Thank you. That quick slab thing made me consider a quick slap.
I keep writing other things and deleting them. And my bank manager would much prefer me to be a florist. I can hear him weeping from here.

gloriamundi
Guest

I’m all for cats among pigeons, but for any of the good old General Public out there, arguments sometimes need to be made, points answered, I guess!
I have just excommunicated Simon from the Way of the Singing Crystals….

Charles Cowling
Guest

Ain’t it good to have Simon back? He’s the classic cat among pigeons.

Kingfisher
Guest

I was going to say something along the lines of “you’re just a disbursement anyway” but thought I’d better keep the equilibrium after Simon’s post above mine!

gloriamundi
Guest

Simon, it works both ways. “They” (i.e. we celebrants) don’t have a church to support, but then vicars are on a stipend or salary of some kind, I believe. Celebrants only get their fee, which I would say for a day and half’s work is hardly a princely sum. And the Church does not provide ongoing solace and care when a vicar turns up at the crem having not met the family, or only spoken to them briefly on the phone. But actually these arguments are probably a waste of time. The fact is that whoever provides the celebrancy/minister role… Read more »

Kingfisher
Guest

Charles, I’m not sure that £58 is wildly significant on a £3K funeral bill, it’s maybe more the message that hiking a fee by 50+% is acceptable in the current climate?

Simon irons
Guest
Simon irons

Oh and lets not forget that the Church provide on going pastoral care and a place of solace in which to reflect.
At the Christmas memorial service at my local c of e church I met a family who had opted for a none religious funeral service for the very person they were in Church to remember……… No admission fee at the door………

Simon irons
Guest
Simon irons

How much is the national price for a “funeral celebrant” or “humanist” I don’t think I have ever seen one published and it’s always hit and miss….. I have certainly paid as much as I have to the Clergy and They have no Churchto support ….. Just a quick slab of cash into the back pocket.

Kingfisher
Guest

Just to clarify, the fee includes light and admin, but not heat, according to the article, which makes sense.

The current £102 is what a vicar charges whether the funeral is in church or at a crematorium, which would tend to suggest that the £160 will apply to both next year.

‘Tis a big hike! If the C of E can raise prices by over 50%, just think what funeral directors can do!