Church of England wedding and funeral fees to increase

Wedding couple There was a 4% increase in the number of Church of England weddings in 2010

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Fees for Church of England weddings are to increase by 40% and the cost of a funeral service by more than 50%.

Church members have voted to raise the cost of a wedding from £296 to £415 and for a funeral service from £102 to £160 from January next year.

The fees include the costs of lighting and administration for the first time.

The moves come despite a warning from some members of the Church's governing body, the General Synod, that the rises could have an impact on poorer couples.

'Invidious position'

The Rev Canon Simon Killwick, a vicar in Moss Side, Manchester, said: "Such a fee increase seems to me hard to justify in times of financial austerity and even harder to justify in poor inner-city parishes.

"The Church of England ought not to be seen to be making a big increase at this time and ought not to be making it difficult for the poor to access these services at a time when a simple ceremony can be had at a register office for around £100."

Canon Killwick said the right to waive fees in cases of hardship put clergy in the "invidious position" of means testing parishioners.

"Waiving can cause real ill feeling," he said. "The poor don't want to be patronised by fees being waived, they want their church to be affordable to them.

"It would be a crying shame if poor people end up being married in register offices because the Church of England has priced them out of their parish church."

Clergy pay

But the Rt Rev John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, said the changes reflected the "reality" of the costs, and reduced confusion over different fees being charged by different parishes.

He told the General Synod that the fees raised about £35m a year for the Church, including £15m towards the pay of clergy.

"The reality of what it costs matters, and it seems to me that those who are being married within our churches do understand that," he said.

The increases were approved after a 4% rise in the number of Church of England weddings in 2010.

Last year the General Synod rejected plans to increase the price of both weddings and funerals by 50%.

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