Patterns of Service during clergy vacancies

Pattern of Services

It is the duty of the churchwardens to arrange for the continuance of the public services of the church, for baptisms, marriages and burials and for pastoral visitations as required on behalf of parishioners, taking care that any clergy or Readers are authorised to do so. (by being beneficed clergy or holding the Bishop's licence or permission to officiate in the diocese). Generally the churchwardens arrange for the provision of ministers through the Area Dean or sometimes the Archdeacon.

Shortly before the vacancy occurs the Area Dean after consultation with the PCC, will approve a pattern of services to be maintained during the vacancy. The churchwardens are then responsible for arranging those services.

Payment of Ministers

Churchwardens should make sure that the necessary payments for these services are made and particularly to ensure that travelling expenses are reimbursed and that, when appropriate, hospitality is offered. See here for information about expenses including a link to current HMRC tax free rates which are used by the Diocesan Board of Finance.

With regard to payments to ministers conducting weddings and funerals see here.

Payments to ministers conducting other services during a vacancy are shared between the Parochial Church Council and the Diocesan Stipends Fund (which is held by the Diocesan Board of Finance). The Bishop has authorised payment from the Diocesan Stipends Fund as follows:

  • One service a week in each parish church, mission, daughter church or chapel of ease.
  • Additional special services such as Maundy Thursday, Patronal Festival, Christmas or other special occasions.
  • Other services approved by the Archdeacon after consultation with the Diocesan Secretary on an exceptional basis.

Payment for services arranged in addition to the above is the responsibility of the PCC.

These arrangements start when the vacancy takes legal effect, usually the date on which the outgoing incumbent is instituted or licensed in their new post or the date of retirement. Here are guidelines for the interval that should be allowed between the occasion when a priest bids farewell to the parish and the actual vacation of office. During this interval the payment of visiting ministers is the responsibility of the PCC on behalf of the incumbent. Exceptionally when there is early retirement through illness the arrangements should be discussed with the Archdeacon who will consult with the Diocesan Secretary as they may together agree that the DBF’s funding of payments commence earlier.

Funding from the Diocesan Stipends Fund will cease after a period of two years (or two years from 11th March 2014, whichever is the later) but the Archdeacon and Diocesan Secretary jointly may agree continuance of the payments.

The practice in this diocese relating to services in church during a vacancy is as follows:-

  • All Visiting Ministers – Expenses. Reimbursment of expenses should be always offered by the PCC (except for any travelling expenses on the day of a funeral which will be paid direct by the funeral director).
  • Stipendiary Clergy. No payment is to be made for taking Sunday and any other services.
  • Non-Stipendiary Clergy and Readers. No payment can be made to non-stipendiary clergy and Readers for Sunday and other services (except the occasional offices as covered here and here.)
  • Retired Clergy. Retired clergy are eligible to receive payment for services “away from their home church” as covered here and here.

The churchwardens should ensure that the visiting minister’s expenses are reimbursed (and in the case of retired clergy, the payment made for the service) on the day.

A form is available from the Finance Team at the Diocesan Office for PCCs to claim reimbursement from the DBF for the payments (and expenses) to ministers.

Churchwardens as Sequestrators

11. The churchwardens and Area Dean are automatically appointed as sequestrators for the benefice during a vacancy of an incumbent.The only income received by churchwardens will be the (from 1 January 2013, limited) fees payable to the incumbent as referred to here. These should be forwarded to the PCC Treasurer to remit to the DBF along with the DBF’s fees referred to here. Such income will be credited to the Diocesan Stipends Fund.

January 2015

Page last updated: Monday 2nd May 2022 6:31 PM
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