THE Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David
Walker, introduced a Draft Order on parochial fees for baptisms,
marriages, and funerals. Building on a 2012 Order that set new
fees, the Order would set them at this level for five years, with
an annual increase based on the rate of inflation.
The Bishop said: "Five-year orders will save time we can spend
debating other matters or finish earlier. Marriage and funeral
services are a vital part of the mission of the C of E, to reach
those who may not otherwise have much contact with the Church."
John Freeman (Chester) said that he commended
this new way of increasing fees, and that he believed it would save
a lot of time.
The Revd Charlotte Gale
(Coventry) said that she had serious concerns about how the new
fees would work for funerals. In her parish, there are too many
funerals for her to take alone but, after paying retired clergy to
take funerals, there was not much money left for the PCC. "That
means for a funeral service in church [with a retired cleric] with
the proposed fees, the PCC will receive just £20 to cover the
costs. I would have fees set at a more realistic rate, so we can
support clergy in this hugely difficult and important
The Revd Jonathan Frais
(Chichester) had concerns about charging for baptisms - the fee is
set at £13. "Baptisms are a great time to teach; it is our time to
give back. . . It's all in the direction of us forming a Christian
world-view in [the family's or baptised person's] mind. I don't
want it undermined by any sense in which they are buying a service,
or even purchasing their salvation."
Canon John Mason (Chester) said he backed the
plan to raise fees by the RPI index of inflation each year. "But
why, if the RPI happens to be negative, is the idea is to cap it at
zero per cent?," he asked. In a deflationary environment, he saw no
reason why the Church should not be generous enough to cut
Canon Simon Cox (Blackburn) said he had been
using RPI to increase fees for years, and thought it worked well.
"The only problem is we are going to be using one month for judge
the whole year." He thought a better way would be to take the
average of three months' worth of inflation.
The Revd Dr Jonathan Gibbs (Chester) said that
he had received considerable "grief" from funeral directors about
the substantial increase in fees in 2012, but he felt that now the
industry was more appreciative of the pastoral service the Church
The Archdeacon of Birmingham, the Ven. Hayward
Osborne (Birmingham), said that in Birmingham, impoverished
parishioners were constantly looking for the cheapest way to do a
funeral. "So, despite the good relations between clergy and funeral
directors, a good number of services are offered to other
independent churches. There is a real battle on for us to secure
services still to come to Anglican parishes." He warned that some
PCCs were still struggling to maintain decent and presentable
The motion was clearly carried that the Draft Parochial Fees
and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2014 be considered.
Paul Cartwright (Wakefield) moved two
amendments, both of which were resisted by the Bishop of
The first would have ensured that the annual rise was pegged to
the Retail Price Index (RPI) or the Consumer Price Index (CPI),
whichever was the lower, rather than simply using RPI as stated in
the draft Order. The second would have restricted any annual uplift
to a maximum of two per cent.
"We don't charge when visiting schools or visiting the ill at
home; so why should we profit from their death?" he asked.
Responding, BishopWalker said that he understood and shared the
concern that any fees could be difficult, especially for those on
the breadline; but "RPI and CPI are used for different types of
uplift, depending upon whether the uplift was taking account of the
cost of manpower or the cost of raw materials." There was also a
new index, CPIV, which had only been operating for one month and
which might be the index that the Church preferred to use in
future. He opposed the suggested cap on the uplift, because "We
don't know what the rate of inflation might be in the future."
Insufficient members stood to support either amendment, and both
fell; the Synod then approved the Parochial Fees and Scheduled
Matters Amending Order 2014.