Planning a funeral is a difficult and emotional time, but financial decisions must be made. It costs money for a church to hold a funeral. Pastors, custodians, musicians and secretaries must all be called in to perform their duties and serve the family suffering a loss. Though fees can vary between regions, paying an honorarium to the church helps cover some of these unexpected expenses.
Some churches are upfront at the first meeting with the departed’s family about the expected honorarium. The fee may be lower for church members or services in the chapel, or higher for non-members or services held in the larger sanctuary. Payment is typically due immediately after the funeral service, though the church can accept payment before the service, if that is more convenient for the family.
Love Offering or Donation
Many churches view their pastor’s officiating over a funeral as part of their ministry and do not charge a specific fee for their services. These churches typically request a love offering or donation for performing funeral services. Family members can choose their donation amount according to the type of funeral service offered. For example, some churches perform the same funeral for everyone, without making it specific to the departed, while others allow the family to participate in planning the service. A church that makes a greater effort to personalize the service merits a greater donation amount.
If you are not sure how much to offer to the church for funeral services, ask the funeral director to give you a rough estimate of what most churches in your area charge for performing funerals. The church secretary is another excellent resource, as the secretary knows how much others in the past have donated and what it costs the church to hold the service.
After the Funeral
It is acceptable to wait until after the funeral service is over to make your decision about how much to offer as an honorarium. Keep in mind that the minister and church staff possibly had to cancel plans or family events to conduct an unexpected funeral for your loved one. If the minister took the time to make the funeral special and honored the requests of the family members in his tone and words, then donate generously. Some denominations do not accept direct contributions for funeral services, so make a donation in honor of your loved one to the clergy discretionary fund or the church benevolence fund.
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