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Church of England clergy make first wage demand

Clergy, lay officers struggling with the cost-of-living crisis have submitted their first demand for a pay rise since 1534
Britain's King Charles III attends his coronation at Westminster Abbey, in central London on May 6

Britain's King Charles III attends his coronation at Westminster Abbey, in central London on May 6. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 20, 2023 05:39 AM GMT
Updated: June 20, 2023 05:43 AM GMT

The blessing of the Lord may bring spiritual wealth, but eternal riches are no consolation for Church of England priests facing an earthly cost-of-living crisis.

On Monday, clergy and lay officers of the church headed by King Charles III submitted their first demand for a pay rise since the church was founded in 1534.

Their union, Unite, said they want a 9.5-percent increase in the annual stipend that priests receive from next year.

"Like all workers, Church of England clergy are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis," said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

"While many will argue their work is a vocation, the simple truth is that on their current rewards, they are among the working poor.

"The Church of England has billions in the bank and can fully afford to pay its clergy the modest increase in their stipend they are seeking.

"The clergy deliver a clear message for the Church of faith in the hereafter. Unite is fighting for a better deal for them in the here and now."

Unite's Church of England Clergy and Employee Advocates (CEECA) branch will submit proposals to the church's Remunerations and Conditions of Service Committee, which advises on stipends.

That follows lobbying about how high inflation is affecting clergy, driving up day-to-day costs, and research that indicated that nearly one-fifth of clergy households needed charitable aid in 2022.

Unite wants an increase in the national minimum stipend from £29,340 ($37,557) to £31,335 from April 1 next year.

The Church of England was founded by King Henry VIII, who broke with the Roman Catholic church over its refusal to sanction divorce.

Its supreme governor remains the reigning British monarch.

According to the 2022 Annual Report of the Church Commissioners, it manages a portfolio worth £10.3 billion, which has been growing on average at 10.2 percent a year.

There was no immediate comment from the Church of England when contacted by AFP, but Unite said the committee was considering the request on Monday.

Sam Maginnis, a Unite member and part of the clergy, said: "All clergy should be paid at a level that secures relief from financial hardship, promotes personal well-being and enables them to effectively serve and support their local communities.

"The proposed increase is necessary to start bringing pay back in line with inflation while addressing the most urgent hardship and anxiety faced by too many clergy and their families."

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