Support Your Local Levite

Leviticus 7: 35 – 36

35 This is the portion of the food offerings presented to the Lord that were allotted to Aaron and his sons on the day they were presented to serve the Lord as priests. 36 On the day they were anointed, the Lord commanded that the Israelites give this to them as their perpetual share for the generations to come.

The passage from Leviticus above comes at the end of (another) long detailed list of regulations. In this case it refers to the various offerings brought to The Temple and in particular what the Priests on duty are entitled to take as part of their “stipend”. In the Jewish Temple the role of Priest was hereditary and you could only become a true Levitical priest if you were descended from Aaron.

The payment of Priests, Ministers, Vicars, call them what you will, has often been a contentious issue over the centuries.

In many ways it played a part in the Great Disruption of 1843 when the Church of Scotland completely split and remained so for nearly 90 years. Technically it rested on who had the right to Call a Minister the Heads of Families of the congregation or the local landowner. A Mr Edwards was appointed by the Earl of Fife to the Charge of Marnoch in Banffshire; he had previously worked as Assistant to the previous Minister Mr Edwards had been so unpopular the Minister had fired him. The congregation did not take kindly to his being imposed upon them and chose instead a Mr Henry.

Edwards took them to the Court of Session and actually won his case, but on his night of induction there was a near riot and virtually the whole congregation walked out. Why did Edwards, who knew he was disliked by all, go to this trouble to get the job of minister at a small poor rural church? Well, part of it was money. He taught at the Church school in Cairnie and was paid a salary that was less than a seventh of the stipend of Marnoch. This differential was common throughout Scotland at the time (As a an aside I think it’s about time it was restored I have no idea what a teacher earns today but I am very certain it’s a lot more than 14% of a Ministers Stipend I am just as certain that there is not a Treasurer in the land that would not veto this suggestion!).

Mr Henry was appointed by the congregation who ignored Presbytery and for a while preached every Sunday in an old saw mill until a new ‘Free’ church could be built.

Today with set centrally administered stipends Ministers actually have little to complain about in regard to remuneration, not that that stops some!

Some denominations though advise congregations to put little extras to the Priest and in January (I think) each year there is an annual Buy Your Priest a Pint Day, not sure if it’s one pint from the whole congregation or each congregant is expected to buy a pint! I am also not sure of the take up rate either.

There is also one which is far more useful a Pray for Your Priest Day and that is one that should have a far wider catchment. In some of the comments about the most recent one somebody produced a Franciscan Blessing, which I use instead of the Prayer today. It is actually written for Priests/Vicars/Pastors/Ministers et al but it also applies to all Christians.


May God Bless you with Anger
At injustice oppression and exploitation of people
So you may work for Justice Freedom and Peace
May God Bless you with Tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy
And May God Bless you with Foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor