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Crematorium Organists


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Guest Patrick Coleman
Whilst I cannot speak for Christians who are not in communion with the See of Canterbury, my understanding of the system in the C-of-E is that any fees that clergy get for weddings and funerals go to their diocese to help pay their stipend and they therefore don't make a "profit" out of it. I don't know what the situation is for the ever increasing number of clergy who are non-stipendiary. Perhaps Quentin or Patrick could clarify.

 

Malcolm

 

This is indeed the case in the Church of England - though NSMs I think may take the fees. In Wales we have lower stipends and get the fees. There are those that believe the English system is fairer (same remuneration no matter how many funerals/weddings you carry out) and those, especially in parishes with large numbers of funerals, who favour payment for work done. Incidentally, the standard fee (in Wales) for a funeral works out at less than £10 an hour taking into account the pastoral work and preparation, and even less than this for a wedding.

 

Lest there be forum members who start on about how much an hour organists do or don't get, I am very aware that conscientious organists put in hours of practice, preparation and sometimes even prayer, while some will just turn up and play. Clergy are the same. Some will just turn up and read the service, and others will make every effort to provide pastoral support before and after the funeral/wedding, while also giving time effort and prayer to the preparation of the service. There is bad practice in all professions sadly.

 

As for Colin's post, I find it hard to see why people who never have anything to do with the Church or its musical heritage should want a priest or an organ at their funerals. My job has to do with building bridges to those people, not complaining about them. I can also act as an ambassador for our wonderful heritage of spiritual music, including the organ - and I do, encouraging my organist to do the same. Most of the members of this forum do that, with greater or lesser success, but I suspect no one is going to listen to vicars or organists if they do nothing but complain.

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This is indeed the case in the Church of England - though NSMs I think may take the fees. In Wales we have lower stipends and get the fees. There are those that believe the English system is fairer (same remuneration no matter how many funerals/weddings you carry out) and those, especially in parishes with large numbers of funerals, who favour payment for work done. Incidentally, the standard fee (in Wales) for a funeral works out at less than £10 an hour taking into account the pastoral work and preparation, and even less than this for a wedding.

 

Lest there be forum members who start on about how much an hour organists do or don't get, I am very aware that conscientious organists put in hours of practice, preparation and sometimes even prayer, while some will just turn up and play. Clergy are the same. Some will just turn up and read the service, and others will make every effort to provide pastoral support before and after the funeral/wedding, while also giving time effort and prayer to the preparation of the service. There is bad practice in all professions sadly.

 

As for Colin's post, I find it hard to see why people who never have anything to do with the Church or its musical heritage should want a priest or an organ at their funerals. My job has to do with building bridges to those people, not complaining about them. I can also act as an ambassador for our wonderful heritage of spiritual music, including the organ - and I do, encouraging my organist to do the same. Most of the members of this forum do that, with greater or lesser success, but I suspect no one is going to listen to vicars or organists if they do nothing but complain.

 

I can't really add that much to what Patrick has said, except that for the most part I find conducting funeral services and weddings to be a most satisfying part of my work in that on the great majority of occasions the people to whom we are ministering are generally delightful and very appreciative of all that is done for them. I thoroughly agree with Patrick that we are there to build bridges, and we forget that at our peril.

 

Just as a side-note my (Pentecostal) father died three weeks ago. In recent years he had been attending the local Anglican Church in Colwyn Bay, and had become as committed a member as he could possibly be. At his funeral, we had his choice of hymns (one of which would have been unfamiliar to many of the Anglicans present, but the Vicar simply had the organist play the tune all the way through for the people to listen to and it went with a good Pentecostal swing). At the crematorium the canned music was the Moonlight Serenade, which was tear-jerkingly lovely. At the end of the day I felt as if I'd attended the most perfect funeral service - I can actually say that we enjoyed it (and that is no trite comment). To keep things to topic, the music was tremendous, and the Vicar mentioned that the organist had composed a special organ voluntary for us to leave the church - entitled "Elegy for a Bevin Boy".

 

I wouldn't be surprised if certain members of the Bellamy family who have deserted church in recent years, will have been well and truly won back by simple good pastoralia - not only from the Vicar but also from the guy at the organ console (and a whole lot of other folk too). :D

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I can't really add that much to what Patrick has said, except that for the most part I find conducting funeral services and weddings to be a most satisfying part of my work in that on the great majority of occasions the people to whom we are ministering are generally delightful and very appreciative of all that is done for them. I thoroughly agree with Patrick that we are there to build bridges, and we forget that at our peril.

 

Just as a side-note my (Pentecostal) father died three weeks ago. In recent years he had been attending the local Anglican Church in Colwyn Bay, and had become as committed a member as he could possibly be. At his funeral, we had his choice of hymns (one of which would have been unfamiliar to many of the Anglicans present, but the Vicar simply had the organist play the tune all the way through for the people to listen to and it went with a good Pentecostal swing). At the crematorium the canned music was the Moonlight Serenade, which was tear-jerkingly lovely. At the end of the day I felt as if I'd attended the most perfect funeral service - I can actually say that we enjoyed it (and that is no trite comment). To keep things to topic, the music was tremendous, and the Vicar mentioned that the organist had composed a special organ voluntary for us to leave the church - entitled "Elegy for a Bevin Boy".

 

I wouldn't be surprised if certain members of the Bellamy family who have deserted church in recent years, will have been well and truly won back by simple good pastoralia - not only from the Vicar but also from the guy at the organ console (and a whole lot of other folk too). :D

:)

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I can't really add that much to what Patrick has said, except that for the most part I find conducting funeral services and weddings to be a most satisfying part of my work in that on the great majority of occasions the people to whom we are ministering are generally delightful and very appreciative of all that is done for them. I thoroughly agree with Patrick that we are there to build bridges, and we forget that at our peril.

 

Just as a side-note my (Pentecostal) father died three weeks ago. In recent years he had been attending the local Anglican Church in Colwyn Bay, and had become as committed a member as he could possibly be. At his funeral, we had his choice of hymns (one of which would have been unfamiliar to many of the Anglicans present, but the Vicar simply had the organist play the tune all the way through for the people to listen to and it went with a good Pentecostal swing). At the crematorium the canned music was the Moonlight Serenade, which was tear-jerkingly lovely. At the end of the day I felt as if I'd attended the most perfect funeral service - I can actually say that we enjoyed it (and that is no trite comment). To keep things to topic, the music was tremendous, and the Vicar mentioned that the organist had composed a special organ voluntary for us to leave the church - entitled "Elegy for a Bevin Boy".

 

I wouldn't be surprised if certain members of the Bellamy family who have deserted church in recent years, will have been well and truly won back by simple good pastoralia - not only from the Vicar but also from the guy at the organ console (and a whole lot of other folk too). :D

 

Hi

 

Sounds good to me!

 

As a Baptist Minister, I get to keep funeral fees (we don't get many weddings in my current church - last one was before I arrived), but we don't charge for church members/regular attenders etc.

 

I'm quite happy to take funerals for non-church folk, as long as the family are happy with a Christian service - as Patrick says, it's an opportunity to build bridges and provide pastoral care.

 

I suppose my one "horror story" of funerals is arriving at the crematorium for a committal to find that the minister (Anglican) who was booked for the funeral in front hadn't turned up. (Yes - I took the service - not ideal but I felt that I couldn't just walk away - the family had already been "let down" by the church).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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