An opportunity to serve our communities
One of the privileges of being the Church of England is that many people still come to our churches for baptisms, weddings and funerals. As a national church, we are glad to provide for our communities in this way, but there are fees to enable us to keep providing this valuable service. (For baptisms, the fee is just for the baptism certificate.) We try to answer some of the common questions about fees below.
Why are charges set centrally?
In order that the fees aren't a barrier or a cause for difficult negotiation with parishioners, they are centrally set, with the aim that they cover the fair cost to the church. These centrally set figures are the same, however large or small the church, although each church is allowed to set its own fair costs for items such as verger, flowers etc.
Parochial fees are set annually and nationally, and the fees are published in the Table of Fees for that particular year. This is sent out to treasurers by the Finance Team in December every year, but is also available here www.churchofengland.org/more/clergy-resources/national-clergy-hr/life-events-parochial-fees-and-guidance
The church is also welcome to invite additional donations from visitors, so if you have a lot of occasional offices, it may be worth investing in contactless giving.
Fees cannot be waived except in extreme circumstances. If clergy wish to waive a fee, where a family are in straightened circumstances, speak to your archdeacon first.
Where does the fee go?
A substantial portion of the fee generally goes to the PCC, and is to offset heating, lighting etc. The amount due to the DBF is to cover the cost of ministry, and as is the case with all ministry, both costs and grants are centrally pooled so that ministry is provided across the diocese according to need,and not ability to pay. The income from occasional offices makes a substantial contribution to the cost of stipendiary ministry across the diocese, but more important is the opportunity to give people spiritual support at these important times of their lives.
For weddings, you can ask the couple to nominate a couple of their young guests to hold a plate or basket each on the way out of the church. This helps the children to feel important, and guests will find it hard to resist two young charming fundraisers!
Our Diocesan procedures
In the Diocese of Bristol we issue a personalised fees return to parishes that is designed to help parishes let us know what occasional offices have taken place. Contact the finance team if you have any questions about this.
Recently the fee structure changed so that Crematorium funerals were allocated 100% to the DBF, however Bristol Diocese is making a voluntary contribution of £30 per crem funeral to cover admin costs (as it was in previous years).
Special arrangements for the coronavirus lockdown
During lockdown there have been limits on where funerals can take place, therefore the BDBF has agreed that in situations where there is a significantly reduced service at the crematorium, clergy can waive the normal BDBF funeral fees, ie not charge at all. However this would not apply where, for example, the undertaker will not be passing on the reduction to the family, or where a church/graveside funeral is still being held.
There are excellent resources to help your church provide the best possible service through occasional offices here: https://churchsupporthub.org/