Cost of weddings and funerals to rise
Fees for Church of England weddings are to rise by 40% and the cost of a church funeral by over 50%.
Church officials have voted in favour of the increases after there was a 4% rise in the number of Church of England weddings in 2010. But many members of Church governing body the General Synod are warning that poorer people could be priced out of having church services.
"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," says the Rev Canon Simon Killwick, a vicar in inner city Moss Side, Manchester.
"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."
A church wedding will cost £415 from January 2013, including the cost of banns, up from the current £296. Meanwhile, a funeral service in church will rise from £102 to £160.
Part of the reason for the rise is that the new charges include the cost of lighting and administration for the first time, but still do not take into account additional costs such as heating, vergers, organists or bell ringers.
The Rt Rev John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, says the charges reflect the "reality" of the costs, and bring in one set fee across all parishes to reduce confusion.
The fees for weddings and funerals raise about £35 million a year for the Church of England, of which £15 million goes towards paying the clergy.