The Archdeacons have issued the following letter about funeral ministry:
Funeral and bereavement ministry is a vital and integral part of the cure of souls in our parishes – this ministry is critical and we simply couldn’t manage without it.
In fact all those who assist parish clergy, who we are calling other ministers, (retired clergy, self-supporting ministers (SSMs) and Readers), have an increasingly key role to play in supporting the bereaved and we are extremely thankful for their contribution.
However, we still have some concerns over how funerals are arranged. This letter aims to give you greater clarity around the handling of fees, particularly where services are conducted at the Crematorium.
When arranging funerals, Canon C 8 provides that Anglican ministers may only officiate with the authority of the bishop and additionally with the permission of the incumbent of the parish.
Therefore Funeral Directors must always contact the parish in the first instance. Other ministers should not be contacted directly. The incumbent or parish officer (or Area Dean during an Interregnum) of the parish in which the deceased person was either resident or a member will decide which minister should be asked to officiate and will contact them directly. This will help us all follow the guidelines (see below) which are very clear that other ministers with a licence or PTO must never operate on a ‘freelance’ basis.
As to fees, we have asked all Funeral Directors to pay funeral fees through one cheque payable to a PCC account. You should not accept cash payments as they cannot be properly accounted for.
Most importantly, monies due to the DBF or PCC are charitable monies and as such should never be paid into or through personal accounts.
Where you have conducted the service, this diocese allows you to receive 50% of the DBF element of the funeral fee. You should claim this, plus any additional expenses, from the relevant PCC. It is essential that you declare these ‘earnings’ for tax purposes.
We regard those who are employed as Chaplains by the NHS or other institutions in the same category as stipendiary clergy, rather than SSMs, as their paid work is Christian ministry. So if they conduct a funeral they are not entitled to receive a portion of the DBF fee. They should however claim for any expenses incurred.
Since the Ecclesiastical Fees Measure 1986 was amended and updated in 2011 and came into effect from January 2013, it is very important that the guidelines issued by Archbishops’ Council and the subsequent clarification by the Legal Office are adhered to.
We are sure you understand that following best practice in this matter is right and good and enables this ministry to flourish.
Once again our thanks for all your support in offering this service.