God's Word for today

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Honoraria dilemma

This past Sunday I had the privilege of preaching at both All Saints United Church and Prestbury Methodist Church - a rare privilege since I don't get to preach nearly as often as I did last year.

And while both services went well, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma.  You see, All Saints has the practice of giving a small honorarium to visiting preachers - their way of saying "thank you".  They include this in their annual budget, based on the number of visiting preachers they are expecting during the year.  By all appearances the church can afford this, and it's something that they do with grace and joy.

My dilemma is this - while one doesn't want to turn away someone's gesture of thanks, something I've wrestled with since entering the ministry is the concept of being paid for doing something that I'm not only called to do (i.e. it is part and parcel of my "job" as a minister), but something that I'm effectively already being paid for by virtue of being in receipt of a monthly stipend.  A small one, seeing as I'm at Seminary, but a stipend nonetheless.

I bounced this of Ross this morning, who has faced the exact same dilemma when preaching at All Saints, and he came to terms with the fact that the amount paid (which is not overly large) is a gesture of thanks on the part of that church community, which should be accepted with grace.

I hear where Ross is coming from, and in the end I split it between Belinda and James.  But something deep inside of me still feels awkward about the whole thing...

2 comments:

markpenrith said...

Depends on how well you prepared for the sermon :). I'm thinking of "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine" (1 Ti 5:17).

In Christ,

Mark

michael said...

When you're stationed, the dilemma will be dealing with payments for funerals and weddings. We bank funeral payments into the church's account but designate the money for clergy education - ie it goes into an internal fund which we can draw on for attending conferences / buying books (these things don't tend to make it into the church budget otherwise!). For weddings, we recognise that pre-marital counselling and attending the service (and sometimes reception) is time away from family (and usually is with a couple with no ties at all to the church). So, if money is received from doing a wedding, we receive it as a gift and use it to fund a family outing or holiday - ie to make up for the time the family has given to the couple. For both weddings and funerals though, we do not charge a fee - this stuff only applies if the family in question want to make a payment anyway.

Michael