A Proper Honorarium for a Funeral Pastor

A pastor's responsibility during a time of mourning reaches beyond the pulpit.
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Those who are grieving will often turn to a pastor for assistance with the planning and execution of a funeral service. The duties of the pastor will vary depending on each situation, but it is customary to pay the pastor an honorarium for his services. How involved in the process the pastor is will determine the amount. Financial limitations of the family may also determine how much the payment will be.

1 The Duties Before the Funeral

Once a pastor learns of a death, he should reach out to the family in some way. Depending on the relationship the family has with the pastor and the church, the amount of involvement before the funeral will vary. Pastors often devote many hours to grief counseling and funeral planning. In cases where the pastor does not have a prior relationship with the family, the involvement beforehand may be minimal. At the very least, the pastor will devote some time to preparing for the funeral service.

2 The Duties During and After the Funeral

The pastor leads the funeral service by offering prayers, delivering the sermon and doing whatever else the family has requested to be in the service. The pastor should be available immediately before and after the service to greet and console those in attendance. In some traditions, the pastor will escort the remains of the deceased to the final resting place and may even preside over a graveside service. In the days following the service, the pastor should be available for further counseling if needed.

3 Time Involved

The actual time that the pastor spends in counseling, preparing notes, planning and other tasks depends on each specific situation. It usually takes six to 10 hours of study to prepare a sermon, according to soulpreaching.com. The pastor will also usually spend one to two hours meeting with the family before the service and two to three hours for the actual service.

4 How Much Is Recommended

The amount will vary depending on the church and time spent. The funeral director will know what is customary for each location. If more than one pastor is involved, the amount can be split between them. Often a pastor will refuse to accept the payment. If this is the case, it is good to not force the issue and simply honor the pastor’s wish. Gratitude can be expressed in other ways, such as a card, gift basket or gift certificate. Families can also make donations to charity in the pastor’s name.

Jane Rodda has been a writer since 2004, with articles featured in "Gameday Magazine" and "Urban Family Magazine." She is also the social media director and lead copywriter for a piano instruction website. Rodda holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies with a concentration in psychology from Point Loma Nazarene University.