Funeral and Wedding Pay
  • tandrews
    Posts: 83
    Hello everyone,

    I know this is a topic that has been discussed in topics past, but I would appreciate any input you can share.

    The parish bookkeeper told me that since I am a salaried employee at the Cathedral that I cannot make extra money from funerals (and most likely weddings). She's been spooked by some diocesan accountant that if an audit ever happens and this extra money I earn isn't accounted for, she goes to jail and the parish receives monetary penalties from the IRS.

    I've tried a lot of angles to reason with her (mostly ones I've read from previous topics):
    1) 6 funerals in a week is 6 hours taken away from my music director duties.
    2) If waiters are salaried and still receive tips, why can't I?
    3) It's customary for musicians and celebrants to be reimbursed for weddings and funerals.
    4) If this money is coming from a third party (funeral home or wedding couple), what's the issue if I'm still paying taxes on it?
    5) What if during funerals I cease to be "music director" and am only an accompanist?
    6) Does it matter if the check I receive is considered a stipend, an honorarium, or a gift?
    7) Can I still receive wedding/funeral pay if they fall on weekends and days off?
    8) If I manage to get the funeral home to hire me as an independent contractor, can they pay me for the funeral?

    This is upwards of $5000 annually that I am going to miss out on if I can't get this resolved.

    I am meeting with this diocesan accountant on Tuesday to argue my case. Rather than argue with the middleman that is the parish bookkeeper, I need to meet with the accountant directly. Does anyone know what part of tax law he might be referring to that salaried employees cannot receive extra money? Does this extra time I need to take away from my other duties just fall under the "+" that is a 40+ hour job?

    Additional background info into my situation. I have no official job description. The closest thing I have is the job advertisement from Nov. 2017 here on the forums. My pastor has apologized that he and I never officially hammered out a job description, and that we will very soon, and hopefully that will resolve some of the issues. I mention all this because this same accountant has told my pastor that playing for funerals is part of my job description, hence another reason why I shouldn't be getting paid extra. Does the IRS have some sort of generic job description for musicians? How can I be told something is part of my job description when I don't even have an official one?

    I know I'm going in against a giant, as it sounds like this accountant has been "beating the drum" for years that all accompanists in the diocese need to be on a church's payroll as an hourly employee (aka very opposed to stipends except in exceptional circumstances).

    If anyone has any ideas, laws, arguments, tips, or prayers they can offer before I enter into this meeting on Tuesday, I would appreciate it a lot.

    Thanks for letting me vent...
  • That the cathedral accountant has presumed to define your job description is laughable. His or her job is keeping books, not deciding what choirmasters are paid, or paid for.

    I've never heard of a situation in which organists were not paid stipends for weddings and funerals - directly form the people or from the funeral home This is a universal arrangement. Your situation is, in my experience, unique and mean. Hasn't your pastor heard your case? It is he, not this accountant, who determines your job description and pay.

    I hope that your meeting with the diocesan accountant results in justice to you.

  • I have had jobs where the additional fees are part of the salary. The hours of each week were adjusted to meet this need. At another place, I received a 1099 for all stipends -- they were all disbursed on checks drawn on the church account. The couple or the funeral home paid the church. Just two examples of how it has worked for me over the years.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,171
    This is preposterous. Can you contact anyone from CRCCM? Weddings and funerals are almost ALWAYS paid over and above the base salary. This accountant has no idea what he or she is talking about.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • davido
    Posts: 377
    You work for the pastor, not the accountant.
    The church should set the rate for your (or the sub’s) services as wedding and funeral musician, but the money should never pass through church accounts.
    Funeral homes and married couples should give you checks made out to you directly.
  • If this is a cathedral, who is your boss? The rector presumably? Then this needs to be discussed with that person, not the bookkeeper, unless the rector/pastor whoever has delegated this to that person. In the end, whoever is your boss needs to be part of this.

    This could either be worked out a few ways: Presumably the Cathedral received a stipend when there is a funeral. The parish can pay you whatever extra through payroll and you not be paid directly be the family. This is what I have. Our parish charges a certain amount for a funeral that includes the organist fee. Then, I tell our payroll person how many funerals I've played, and the parish pays me that in my regular pay check, on top of what my base salary is. Taxes are taken out, etc. I know some people would get checks from the funeral home, family, etc. but this way is fine, the others may be risky.

    The other option is that you get a raise in salary to account for an approx. amount of funerals/weddings - maybe that is $5-8k. Whatever. Then it is built into your salary.
  • I have never, ever heard of not receiving stipends for funerals and weddings. I am salaried and I also receive checks from funeral homes or directly from the bride and groom respectively. This money has nothing to do with the church.

    Alternatively, the church can incorporate your fee into the funeral/wedding stipend required to use the church. If the church currently costs $400 for a wedding, they can change it to $550 and then issue you an extra $150 on any paycheck that includes the extra services.

    Your secretary is flat out wrong. Whether or not you report stipends as extra income to the irs is between you and God. If they are collected by the church on your behalf they will be automatically taxed.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • We will all be keeping you in mind and prayers for your Tuesday meeting with the diocesan accountant. That the diocesan accountant actually has anything at all to do with organist's wedding and funeral stipends is beyond comprehension- it is one of the most eccentric situations I have even heard of..
    I suspect that your pastor or rector could clear this up with a few words if he really cared about you. Besides - you should be paid directly by the wedding or funeral party, or by the funeral home. The church should have nothing to do with it.

    Do let us know how your meeting turns out.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,171
    I suspect that your pastor or rector could clear this up with a few words if he really cared about you.


    This is the truth.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw MatthewRoth
  • .
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,262
    Pastors/ Rectors don't always know what the money people are thinking.

    Also, parish staffs have weekend people and office people, and office people don't always understand the value of the weekend people.

    I would definitely, non-defensively, talk to my boss about this, if it were me.
  • ...weekend people and office people...
    Is this to imply that we musicians are only 'weekend people'? Does anyone here know of a church musician who isn't working all week, at church, at home, in one's sleep, on one's vacation....? It is 'office people's' job to make out the cheques, not to tell musicians what their jobs are and for what they will be paid. This is an outrage. You are being had.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 399
    Some companies don't pay salaried employees for overtime. I realize you're not working for a company but the situation is similar. When you sit down with your pastor this is your opportunity to negotiate or renegotiate your services, don't cut yourself short and get everything, a job description or whatever in writing.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,262
    Jackson, no, I am not implying anything except that office people don't always understand what the priests usually do: the value of musicians.

    This should be between the Rector and the DM.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Felicia
    Posts: 29
    ...weekend people...

    Some of us are, in fact, "weekend people". I play one Mass per week, if I'm scheduled to do so, and don't get paid for it. (I have a full-time secular job, and since I plan to attend Mass anyway, I reason that I can play for the Mass i attend.)

    I do get paid for weddings (by the couple) and funerals (usually by the funeral home).

    FWIW.
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 157
    Its the same reasoning with me. I give my time freely to the service since I'm there already. I'm not so heavily involved with playing the organ as I used to be since my job requires me to travel, but whenever I'm at Church, I take delight in singing in the schola, usually with one of my kids in tow.
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • tandrews
    Posts: 83
    Thank you everyone for your input. I'll let you all know how it goes.

    I do believe I found the wording that the accountant is looking at, and it's found in the FLSA. However, I did some digging and found this portion in FLSA:

    29 C.F.R. §541.604
    "§ 541.604 Minimum guarantee plus extras.
    (a) An employer may provide an exempt employee with additional compensation without losing the exemption or violating the salary basis requirement, if the employment arrangement also includes a guarantee of at least the minimum weekly-required amount paid on a salary basis. Thus, for example, an exempt employee guaranteed at least $684 each week paid on a salary basis may also receive additional compensation of a one percent commission on sales. An exempt employee also may receive a percentage of the sales or profits of the employer if the employment arrangement also includes a guarantee of at least $684 each week paid on a salary basis. Similarly, the exemption is not lost if an exempt employee who is guaranteed at least $684 each week paid on a salary basis also receives additional compensation based on hours worked for work beyond the normal workweek. Such additional compensation may be paid on any basis (e.g., flat sum, bonus payment, straight-time hourly amount, time and one-half or any other basis), and may include paid time off."

    Hopefully that right there makes it open and shut.

  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,171
    If they continue to make trouble about this, couldn't you be paid directly by the funeral home(s) and wedding couples? Then your employer isn't directly providing you with any additional compensation.
  • davido
    Posts: 377
    Irishtenor hits upon the correct solution. There is no reason the money needs to pass through the church’s fingers.

    Tell your pastor to restructure the church funeral and wedding fees so that the church does not collect payment for you.
    Thanked by 1MarkB
  • TCJ
    Posts: 705
    I second Irish Tenor as well. At every church I have ever worked at I have been paid directly by wedding couples (or their parents) and the funeral homes. Never has the payment gone through the church. It works out well enough for me.
  • tandrews
    Posts: 83
    Well the phone call is over. Most of it was explaining to me what FLSA, Minnesota Wage Theft Law, and Workman's Comp was which wasn't really anything I needed to know or I already knew. But he was adamant about "anything music is part of your job description," but agreed that the pastor and I need to hammer out a contract so as to carve out some music-related issues that aren't necessarily part of my job description. Basically I need the pastor to say in the job description "I authorize the director of music to receive bonus pay for all funerals in accordance with 29 C.F.R. §541.604 because funerals are not part of the job description due to their randomness of scheduling." The pastor has final say as to what my job description is, but the accountant stressed that IRS audits can happen 7 years after the fact if I try anything "evasive."

    Interesting point that I forgot to ask until after the phone call: If a full time, exempt secretary volunteers for a secretary-like task at church outside of work hours, she needs to be compensated. If said full time, exempt secretary volunteers for something at church NOT a secretary-like task outside of work hours, she does not need to be compensated. Why can I not do this with funerals? By moving my work schedule around by staying 1-2 hours later in the day, I'm volunteering to play for a funeral, which is music-like, so I need to be compensated. Again, put it in the job description.

    The FLSA section code I mentioned earlier did work on the surface, although the accountant wants to look into it further. He was of the opinion that the salary I make is well above minimum wage salary, so it shouldn't be necessary. Then again, that's not his decision to make! But if the church is brokering funeral pay then they can take the taxes out and pay me. I need a pastor with a backbone to make this work in my job description.

    Employing myself at the local funeral home was iffy and sounded like it still wouldn't work.

    So for now, the result is inconclusive. Thank you for all the prayers and help the past couple days. I appreciate it a lot!
  • You are being 'legally' had.
    I've never encountered such a situation in which the bridal party, or the funeral party, or the funeral home did not pay the organist directly. This should not even go through the church's monetary business because it is none of their business.

    Even Catholic churches advertising for musicians commonly state encouragingly that weddings and funerals offer extra compensation - meaning it's strictly betwixt you and the people involved, not the church.
    You are being 'legally' had.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,171
    This is ridiculous. None of this is the bookkeeper's business. The pastor handles your compensation, and the bookkeeper pays you according to the instructions he receives from the pastor.

    I see a couple of solutions, any of which would work fine:

    1) The funeral home and wedding couples pay the church, which then pays you a stipend on top of your regular salary. I have worked for more than one church which did this, and it was fine.

    2) The funeral home and wedding couples pay you directly. You don't work **for** the funeral home. They just make sure you get a check.

    3) You and the pastor agree to make funerals and weddings part of your regular compensation, increase your base pay commensurate with the average amount of funerals and weddings, and you receive no additional stipend, though your base pay has increased.

    --------

    Situation that's NOT fine:

    4) The bookkeeper unilaterally decides that you make plenty of money already and should no longer receive stipends.

    --------

    Again, I say that additional stipends for funerals and weddings are absolutely standard across the "industry."

    A worry I have is that the pastor doesn't actually have your back at all and has instructed the bookkeeper to make things difficult for you. I believe that this is what happened to me at a previous church/school where I was employed. The pastor allowed the HR director to lie, manufacture false evidence, eliminate my benefits, and lower my salary, but never had a direct hand in it himself. He, however, refused to intervene on my behalf, leaving me no alternative but to resign rather than to work under the new conditions of employment. I hope this is not the situation for you.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • pfreese
    Posts: 66
    tandrews, from everything you describe, it sounds like everything will most likely work out in the end. The way you describe the background it sounds like your pastor has your back and wants you around. As we all know, pastors are overworked as is and it’s very possible something clerical (pardon the pun) like hammering out a job description when you were hired just slipped his notice, but it sounds like he’s willing to work that out now on terms that are as favorable to you as he can make. I could be totally wrong, but that’s my impression from what you describe.

    One other note, I too live in Minnesota. If you work in the diocese that I think you do, they recently went through/are still currently in bankruptcy proceedings and I’m sure every church accountant and bookkeeper there is nervously trying to avoid more headaches for themselves re the IRS and state and federal justice departments. Without witnessing your interactions with the diocesan accounting office, I’m willing to bet that at least party explains their sudden quest for answers re your employment. As someone who works in finance at my day job, audits are stressful even under the best of circumstances. Again, I could be wrong, but that’s my humble observation. I pray it all works out for you.
    Thanked by 1tandrews
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,262
    Situation that's NOT fine:

    4) The bookkeeper unilaterally decides that you make plenty of money already and should no longer receive stipends.


    This.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • What do these people do when you are for some reason absent and a sub has to play a wedding or funeral? Surely a sub would in this case be paid. By extension it is glaringly obvious that you, too, should be paid. You are being had. It would be wise and almost universally normal to have the wedding or funeral party, or the funeral home to pay you directly and leave the church out of it. This arrangement is all but universal in the US.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 183
    He was of the opinion that the salary I make is well above minimum wage salary, so it shouldn't be necessary.


    MASSIVE red flag. This is way way past bookkeeper's job description and incredibly rude to boot.
  • No kidding! Not their call!

    Also, let’s not forget that “we’ll above minimum wage” does not mean:
    A-that you’re paid what you’re worth
    B-that you’re even paid as much as the other local organists are paid
    C-a “living” wage.

    I make “well above minimum wage” and yet with two kids, my wife couldn’t stay home with our children unless we sold at least one car (we have no car payments, just for insurance), homeschooled, and questionably moved into a tent. To put our whole family on my (not-too-great) diocesan insurance would cost us well above $500 a month alone. That’s before car insurance, mortgage, utilities, and groceries.
  • Worst case scenario, use our data here, and email organists in your area to find out if they receive additional stipends (they do) and then go tot he pastor and say, “this is absolutely industry standard and here’s the data, including all the organists at the nearest 10 parishes.”
    Thanked by 2Kathy irishtenor
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,382
    This doesn't apply to the immediate situation discussed here, but in some dioceses parishes are mandated to process occasional work (funerals, weddings, holidays) as employee pay (W-2).
  • Elmar
    Posts: 261
    ...so it shouldn't be necessary...
    I have heard similar things on occasion.

    It doesn't help either that our organist and some other church musicians around have said that they didn't "need" the money and worked "out of love for the Church".
    Don't I love the Church? Maybe not enough...
    Do I need the money? Of course not - it's the house owner, the supermarket etc. who want me to give them some...
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 157
    @ Elmar

    It would be different if our Chapel made it a salaried position, but this is not our case. Most of the regular positions for our chapel are done via the good will and charity of the parishioners. Now if they did offer a salary, you bet I would be there and just get something in-between to make ends meet.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Elmar
    Posts: 261
    That's a different story of course.
    The problem here is a culture in which church musicians used to be salaried professionals (organist + choir directors), being distinct from non-professional volunteers; now financial restrictions only allow (i.e. by bishops' decree a couple of years ago, with very restricted exceptions) for contractors and volunteers, while most former salaried are retired now and often continue as the latter. This blurs te distinction between full-/semi-/non-professionals.
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 157
    @Elmar

    Understandable,
    and like I mentioned earlier, if there was a salaried position near where I live, I'd jump on that in a heartbeat. Volunteering is nice and all but if one is paid to do a job, there is an expected level of professional quality to be had.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • I'm salaried and yet funeral and wedding stipends were a part of the deal from the get-go. As I said, I'm paid directly by the family/couple which circumvents the church completely.
    Thanked by 2sdtalley3 CHGiffen
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 157
    @ ServiamScores

    I thought this was natural since weddings and funerals fall outside the regular purview/schedule of the salaried duties like Sundays, and Holy days etc.
  • I am paid by the church for weddings and funerals in my regular paycheck (or whichever organist plays is paid). This doesn't seem to be any kind of tax problem for us, and our business manager is very detail-oriented and conscientious about these kind of things. I actually much prefer it because

    a - I am not the one tracking down payments or late payments or lack of payments from the families

    b - All of the tax ramifications are taken care of when the parish pays me. I don't have to keep track of the stipends as a "side business" for the end of the year - taxes are withheld just like they are from my normal paycheck.

    The only weakness that I've seen in this arrangement is that the organist and cantor stipends are a set rate - so if we have a guest singer or organist who needs to charge more, they have to get part of their pay through the parish and part through the family.

    My 2 cents - I don't see any problem with getting paid through the church. The problem seems to be that your parish accountant is far overreaching his authority, and has a chip on his shoulder about you to boot. In other words, he is abusing his position to harass a fellow employee, which is unprofessional and unethical. The proper channel is your rector, who is your actual employer.

    Sorry you are going through this. Few things are more basic than the absolutely standard practice in our field of stipends for weddings and funerals. In fact, most jobs make this a significant part of the bargaining/compensation discussion when advertising and hiring a music director. Good luck!
  • The RCCO (I’m in Canada so this is the pay scale standard) doesn’t include weddings and funerals in its pay scale, but lists it as a separate fee.
    https://www.rcco.ca/resources/PDFs/Empl/Salary%20Table%202021.pdf

    Weddings and funerals are contracted out privately at my parish.
  • PaxMelodious
    Posts: 334
    Weddings and funerals are almost ALWAYS paid over and above the base salary.


    I cannot think of any situation in which a full-time salaried employee is permitted to use the employer's:
    premises - ie the church
    equipment - the organ
    materials - books, sheet music etc (assuming the parish paid)
    time - because must funerals are in the regular church operation time

    in order to operate what is effectively a side business.

    Now, if you are salaried but less than full time, it would be appropriate to be paid for additional hours if these are agreed in advance with your management. It could even be that these hours are paid at a relatively high rate. And you might even have a contract that lets you use the church facilities (eg the organ) for private teaching work.

    But if you are full time, then the time you spend on funerals IS time that is not available for other parts of your job.

    If you really need the side income to support your lifestyle, I'd suggest contracting through local funeral directors and wedding planners to play in other places.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 924
    Devil's advocate position: the music director (and hopefully organist) often being the only paid musician in their church, I'm not sure that (especially if full-time) he/she should be the one getting extra pay when the opportunity presents itself..?
  • Pax,

    Since weddings and funerals are sacramental celebrations, surely playing for funerals and weddings isn't a "side business"?
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 575
    I cannot think of any situation in which a full-time salaried employee is permitted to use the employer's:
    premises - ie the church
    equipment - the organ
    materials - books, sheet music etc (assuming the parish paid)
    time - because must funerals are in the regular church operation time

    in order to operate what is effectively a side business.


    A college professor offering individual lessons?

    Maintenance marking graves in the cemetery?

    My job description includes explicit reference to weddings / funerals "as requested" as possible additional income. As far as

    But if you are full time, then the time you spend on funerals IS time that is not available for other parts of your job.


    -- to support the rota of liturgies, classes, extracurriculars, etc. that I am expected to do, my avg. work week is 50 to 61 hours.

    Those duties don't disappear when I have a funeral. Funerals simply require me to deprive myself of what might otherwise be personal time, in order to prepare and play for them, putting off my regular duties to later. So yes, the time of the funeral itself may be during the "work day," but the "time lost / time cost" is mine, not my employer's. The employer still gets a full rota of classes, class prep, choir rehearsals / prep, administrative duties, etc., done every bit as well, and at same outlay of my time.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 302
    @CCooze unless you and the priest have planned to slaughter exactly 20 people a year and factored that into your contract for the year, a funeral is extra work. It’s unplanned and not what you were expecting to do on Tuesday and you still have to rehearse the choir and type up the bulletin and practice and etc. Just like in any other profession – extra work means extra pay. Try telling the painter that since you hired him to paint the kitchen, he may as well do the living room too for free.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 705
    Any funerals and weddings I play for are not counted in my work hours. If they happen upon a day off, it's still my "day off" because I'm not being paid by the church for those events. Yes, I get to use the church organ for the funeral, but so would a guest organist if I were not available. Usually there is a fee paid to the church for the use of the building -- I'm sure that will cover the payment for using the organ and breathing in their space.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 924
    @Gamba, I don't think it's the standard everywhere for a full choir to sing at weddings and funerals, thus not requiring the director to rehearse individual "cantors."
  • MarkB
    Posts: 409
    He meant you still have to rehearse the choir for Sunday even when a funeral occurs during the week. It's extra work. It's not like you get to skip out on choir practice when there's a funeral.
    Thanked by 1Gamba
  • Pax - you've chosen a pretty bad point of comparison. Weddings and funerals are not a "side business" that the musician runs. As if I could advertise - "Hire me to play your funeral/wedding - I'll throw in the cathedral for free!" What a silly idea. They are sacramental celebrations that the Church is essentially obligated to host (wacky/non-parishioner requests aside) and provide staff for (musician, custodian, altar servers, wedding coordinator, clergy) on top of the regular duties of all those people and regardless of whether we are in a busy season of the year. That's one reason the clergy usually get a stipend/gift, especially for weddings. And that's another reason I like getting paid through the church - it makes everything clear. The family pays a fee to the parish, which covers all of the costs of running the event, which they are asking the Church to host.

    In addition, as others have noted, funerals and weddings very often fall on "days off" (in my case, Friday is my weekday off, and funerals are most often Fridays; weddings are almost always Friday or Saturday).

    In addition, the stipend system allows other organists to be hired when necessary. Or, if you have multiple salaried musicians in a big music program, you are paid for this extra work in direct proportion to how much you do. Which is only just.

    I'll also point out that, for weddings, it is very often the church that is bringing in extra income. In fact, for landmark churches that are in demand for weddings, the non-parishioner fee is a critical source of income. I remember reading the bulletin at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral once, and the rector was lamenting the fact that many couples were choosing to get married elsewhere in the past year - and explicitly in his bulletin letter he noted this financial angle. With something like 200 weddings a year, at a "profit" of around $1000 each to the parish, weddings were a critical part of the operating budget. With that many weddings, the stipends were also a critical part of the overall compensation of the music staff.

    I have to ask, Pax, if you are actually a professional musician who does this for a living. For those of us that are, it is well-known that wedding/funeral stipends are absolutely standard practice, and a critical part of our compensation. In the past I have been on the receiving end of specious arguments against the practice, as well as outright dishonesty from clergy, and lost thousands of dollars of income as a result, all while working 7 days a week to accommodate my regular work hours and the extra liturgies. It's very important to our profession to stay on top of this and not contribute to confusion.

    Also: "If you really need the side income to support your lifestyle," - what a strange, snide comment. What are you getting at here? Since stipends are absolutely standard practice, we keep this in mind when negotiating our salaries, and estimate a certain amount when deciding whether to accept a job. I'll refrain from further ranting until you explain yourself.


  • MarkB
    Posts: 409
    Yes, if a music director were using the parish instruments and rooms to operate a private tutoring business, that would be a side business on parish premises. Funerals and weddings are not a side business for a parish music director or staff accompanist. Because such liturgies are a standard service provided by every parish, they constitute additional but expected work for the job for which compensation is not included in base salary due to their variability.
  • davido
    Posts: 377
    A side job would be if the organist was running his own funeral mass business out of the church. It’s competing businesses that employers like to stifle. If you were saying your own masses, then there would be a problem.

    Also, letting the music director use equipment and facilities for side jobs can be a huge benefit to the church: teaching organ, piano, and voice lessons should benefit the parish because hopefully parishioners are some of the students and the knowledge imparted will benefit parish liturgies.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • davido - Absolutely. At the risk of introducing a tangent, I have had this very conversation with our rector (and I consider it a very reasonable conversation to have). My point was

    a - all other music teachers have moveable instruments; while organs tend to reside in churches exclusively. That means teaching on my own premises is probably not an option.

    b - we need people to study the organ, if we hope to have future church musicians. And even present church musicians. Several of my students over the years have grown to the point where they can help with cathedral liturgies, so it's not a hypothetical point.

    As long as I either teach for free during work hours (e.g. offer lessons to my assistants for church work here), or only charge outside of my regular work schedule, there is no ethical dilemma.

    However you cut it, it's a different beast than wedding/funeral stipends.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,006
    Funerals and Weddings should not be treated the same as far as financial arrangements go.

    For funerals I do not 'require' a fee or stipend, but leave that to the family... it is not a good practice to 'charge money' for providing music for a funeral. That being said, it has usually been the practice that the church for which I work recommends that a stipend is given to the church and that the musician(s) would usually receive some recompense from that. The amount is left to the decision of church (pastor) and family. I believe this is the most charitable way to handle monetary matters with funerals.

    On the other hand, I have been asked to play and cantor for weddings... often a fee which is reasonable for services rendered for myself as cantor and organist.

    Then again, I have been asked to compose and arrange music for elaborate weddings, including a small chamber orchestra, creating and mailing arrangements out in advance for musicians flying in the same day and rehearsing two hours before the wedding. Fees for those events can run into the thousands of dollars depending upon complexity. If a family desires music with this kind of grandeur, it should be seen as an opportunity to make most beautiful the liturgy ...sparing no expense. We primarily do not do this for the money, but for the glory of God and for building up the body of Christ.

    The musicians are akin to the Levitical order, and there is nothing wrong with receiving recompense for one's highly valued and unique offering to a Sacramental event. Really, is there anything on earth that deserves better?

    ...And yes, the money should go directly to the musicians. I usually recommend the proper fee for each musician (with consultation of each), soloist, cantor, organist, etc. which is all paid individually by the family to each musician in the form of a check. Those funds are claimed as income and taxes should be paid by each musician if they are handling their finances in an upright manner.

    My two cents... (sometimes I give three).