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Incumbents who refuse to take funerals

by
17 August 2012

iStock

From Canon John Goodchild
Sir, - When I was an incumbent, I believed that God had a special care for every parishioner, whatever his or her faith and morals, and that it was my calling to express this. An essential part of that expression was funeral ministry. However many funerals I took, I was happy for fees to go into central funds to support a nationwide stipendiary ministry, where every incumbent was paid at the same rate. If they had a smaller parish and took fewer funerals than I did, I assumed that they spent their time in other pastoral ministry.

Many retired clergy in Liverpool diocese are currently upset, as funeral directors are contacting them for help because they cannot get certain incumbents to take funerals of their parishioners, and, when they agree to help out, they are expected to return half their fees to maintain lazy incumbents.

The solution would be to make incumbents pay fees to those who took funerals of their parishioners. If they failed to do this, they should be sacked for gross failure to provide pastoral care.

I am thankful to have a conscientious incumbent who loves people. I now no longer take funerals myself, as I lack the time and energy for proper pastoral follow-up.

JOHN GOODCHILD
39 St Michaels Road
Liverpool L17 7AN

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