Eric Chan (Maveric2003)

Synod rejects proposal to scrap extra charge for heating at funerals and weddings

Tue 16 Feb 2016
By Antony Bushfield

Funerals and weddings in the Church of England will continue to have extra charges for vergers and heating.

The General Synod rejected a motion that would have meant all fees for services would be included in the one bill.

Instead couples and grieving relatives will continue to receive one charge for the church and vicar followed by a number of optional extra charges.

“Do you want the church to be warm and welcoming, if so, that’s sixty quid extra,” the Ven Nikki Groarke, Archdeacon of Dudley, who proposed the change, joked.

She said having vergers, who help with the organisation of the event, was rarely an optional extra and were often a requirement.

“Attempting to help a couple exploring a church wedding to consider the spiritual significance of their choice is so much easier if the bargaining about cutting costs here and there that they have done with reception venues, cake maker and florist is missing,” she said.

“As they will often have spent much time negotiating with those providing other elements of the package, they will be genuinely surprised to be asked about support staff and heating.

“Where else, ever, would any of us be asked such a bizarre question? Restaurants asking when you book if you would like a waiter, cutlery cleared and the heating on? To says these elements are extras, is a fiction.”

She added: “Having fees which are simple, transparent, fair and requiring minimal explanation will enable a focus on that which makes a service in church different.”

Some members of Synod raised concerns that putting everything in the one cost would disadvantage those who did not wish to have a verger present.

People would be put off the church by a larger base cost, it was argued.

Others raised concerns that large churches that would cost a lot to heat would not be able to recoup the costs from a standard charge.

It was also said that couples marrying in the summer  or funerals taking place in warmer months would face a financial disadvantage by having heating costs built into a single bill.

The motion was defeated by a show of hands.

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