Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Sussex churches told to stop cashing in on services
Church leaders have been given a dressing down for illegally charging visitors for “extras” at services.
The Diocese of Chichester has issued a warning to priests that they should not ask visitors such as husbands and wifes-to-be to pay “contributions” for extras such as “upkeep of the organ”.
It also revealed some parish priests were topping up the bill for performing weddings by adding charges for taking photographs inside the church building, bell-ringing and sound equipment.
A spokesman for the diocese said: “Certain churches may have imposed a number of extra charges in the past.
“Some of these extra charges are unlawful already. They include, for example, non-returnable deposits, surcharging couples who live outside the parish or who book a Sunday wedding or turning on sound equipment.
“Please note that it is a legal requirement that these charges, and others like them, must cease.”
One Brighton priest, who asked not to be named, said some churches in rural Sussex had charged extra for certain services in the past.
He said: “The Church of England has tried to bring it to light.
“They have increased the fees for weddings so churches benefit more.
“It is all included and people are to ask for contributions. I don’t know if anyone is still doing it.”
Father Phil Ritchie, from All Saints in Hove, said he only asked for money for extras which were not already covered in the cost – and did not always ask for them.
He said: “We charge for the wedding service and £25 for the verger but sometimes I knock that off and we charge £75 for an organist.
“We would never charge extra to photograph in the church.
“I let people climb up to get good pictures and sometimes I try to get them to have a glass of bubbly at the back of the church.
“It sounds ridiculous that churches are getting people to pay extra but the problem is no one has got any money.”
See the latest news headlines from The Argus:
- Victim "fabricated" sex assault story - day eleven of Albion players' trial
- Dad-of-two was visiting brother and nephew when he was gunned down in Hove
- UPDATE: A27 closed in both directions near Worthing after serious accident
- Sussex artists put their skills on show
- Sussex's sewage will become drinking water under new plans