Even if a minister doesn't charge a fee to officiate a funeral, the family usually offers a gratuity, called an honorarium. This gift shows appreciation for the comfort and assistance that a minister provides to the family in their time of grief. Some ministers may refuse an honorarium, in which case the family can offer another act of kindness, such as an invitation to dinner.
When the Family Doesn't Know the Minister
Whether the family is close to the minister facilitating the funeral or they are just meeting him for the first time, it is appropriate to offer him an honorarium. However, the family may consider how well they know the minister when deciding how much to give. A minister who has been near and dear to the family and the deceased for many years and takes the time to really personalize the service may warrant a large honorarium.
When Family Can't Afford a Gratuity
While etiquette dictates that the family offer an honorarium, it's ultimately at the family's discretion. Many ministers consider officiating a funeral a part of their regular job, and will probably be understanding if an honorarium is not within the family's budget. Some funeral homes will also offer a cash advance towards the honorarium. This means the funeral home will give the minister an honorarium, and then the family will pay back the funeral home at a later time.
The Proper Amount to Give
Anything between 100 and 300 dollars could be an appropriate gift. However, the appropriate honorarium amount depends largely on region and even varies from parish to parish. Therefore, it's a good idea for the family to discuss the right honorarium amount with the funeral director or someone in the church administration at the minister's parish.
The Delivery of the Honorarium
It's customary to gift the honorarium after the funeral is complete. A representative of the family or the funeral director places the check in an envelope and hands it directly to the minister. A thank you note can be included.
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