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Important Information Concerning Member Rites of Passage
Church members usually look to the church for support at times of major life transition such as marriage, birth and death. During the past two years, however, it became evident that clarification was needed in two key areas: who can officiate at these events, and which principles govern the use of the building during member rites of passage.
You will likely have heard that the Canada Revenue Agency does not allow charitable organizations to give any special benefits to members. This means that members are no longer able to rent the building at discounted rates. However, since rites of passage are considered to be central to this organization’s charitable purpose, the church can offer the use of the building to members for rites of passage at no charge. At the same time, the church still needs to pay staff to set up, host, and clean up after these events. To this end, the board recently approved a policy allowing for a modest cost recovery charge related to staffing expenses during member rites of passage.
The policy also outlines which responsibilities belong to the member or family, and which to the church. Please familiarize yourself with this policy, which we hope will provide needed clarity. Click here to view the policy, which is posted on the website, and also available in hard copy in the binder containing board meeting minutes, in the foyer of the "house" side of the church building.
Also extremely important - especially as we prepare to welcome our new settled minister - is the distinction between minister and lay chaplain for member rites of passage. As per the guidelines established by the Canadian Unitarian Council's Lay Chaplaincy Committee, in congregations served by ministers, lay chaplains officiate at rites of passage for non-members only. Member rites of passage are conducted by the minister or their designate, and best practice is for the minister to arrange for ministerial coverage during planned absences. Further, retired lay chaplains are asked not to represent the congregation for any rites of passage after their term has concluded.
We recognize that this is a departure from the way lay chaplaincy has been understood by this congregation in past years, and invite you to contact Lynn Clark, Board President, or Barb Shearer, Lay Chaplain, with any questions you might have.