Clergy won't always charge a fee for conducting a funeral, especially if the deceased or his family was a member of their congregation. Still, it's customary to offer a gratuity, known as an honorarium. How much the family pays varies on regional practices and the family's financial situation. The clergy member may use the money to foster church, synagogue or temple's programs.
Fees vs. Honorarium
A funeral fee is something that the church or funeral home requires of the family for the use of their space. If the place of worship to which the clergy member belongs has a set fee for his service, the family must pay the fee to use him as an officiant. It's customary to pay an honorarium to the clergy member regardless of whether he charges a fee. An honorarium is a gift to show appreciation, and the amount is usually up to the discretion of the family of the deceased.
The Emily Post Institute recommends giving an honorarium of between $100 and $300, though it also notes that the family should ask the funeral director or church staff about the appropriate amount. In some cases, the clergy's place of worship may request a specific amount for the honorarium, or at least provide a specific range the family should stick to.
Relationship with the Clergy Member
If the clergy member knew the deceased well and is familiar with the family, a larger honorarium is often warranted. When the family has a relationship with the officiant, he is likely to spend time personalizing the service and even sitting with the family in their home to offer condolences before or after the funeral. For this reason, the relationship with the clergy member should be considered when deciding how much to give as an honorarium. Whether the service is two hours long or very brief, if the officiant goes above and beyond delivering a standard service a large honorarium is appropriate.
If the religious officiant who will be handling the funeral has to travel a far distance to get to the funeral, the family can also pay his travel-related expenses. This might include gas, airfare and a hotel stay. The family should discuss payments with the clergy member or his church secretary before the service.
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