“Freelance clergy”, crematorium funerals and parochial fees

An earlier post reviewed the recent judgment and penalty imposed by a Church Disciplinary Tribunal in Re Hawthorne [2015], (Decision; Penalty), which concerned a complaint brought under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 against a priest in relation to his retention of parochial fees for services at which he has officiated. As we noted, the regime under which the complaint arose has changed as a result of the Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure 2011 [1], although even prior to this it was acknowledged in Parochial Fees GS 1703 (June 2008) that the practice was unlawful [2]; and in an earlier post, Church weddings, increased fees and “extras”, we indicated that the amending Measure addressed: the level and scope of the fees; what may be charged as “extras”; and the recipient of the fees.

In addition to the scale of fees for 2014, the Church published a comprehensive Guide to Church of England Parochial Fees (“the Guide”) covering the new provisions and responses to some Frequently Asked Questions, including retired clergy and self-supporting ministers, [Q8 and Q11]. The Guide and list of fees were last updated in January 2015, when the Legal Office of the National Church Institutions also issued further guidance, Crematorium funerals and parochial fees Guidance (“the Guidance”), in response to requests for clarification of the legal position on certain aspects of these issues. It is therefore important that these documents are read together, and with reference to the associated legislation. Continue reading