Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Netherlands outreach to the disenfranchised Christian

Religious for rent at an hourly wage.

By: Margreet Vermeulen

People not belonging to a church, will now be able to hire a priest or a protestant minister, to bless their marriage or to preside over a funeral service. Through www.rentapriest.nl three ministers and a priest offer their services for a fee.

The initiative was taken by Jan Schonewille from Fochteloo, a retired protestant minister.

“Four out of ten people don’t consider themselves as related to a church, but that does not mean that they don’t feel the need for spirituality in the most important moments in their lives such as marriages and funerals. We want to help these people”.

The religious who cooperate with rentapriest.nl are “of course not very conservative pastors”, emphasized Schonewille. “We don’t have any trouble with people outside church structures, we are open to different ecclesiastical movements, and we speak an understandable language, not unintelligible bible texts”.

Schonewille got some of the idea from de United States. Over there, almost all of them are married (and therefore resigned) priests who can be hired by people who find themselves outside the structural churches. The Dutch variety of rentapriest is not hostile towards the ecclesiastical establishment. “I live on social security, but the priest and the two other ministers still have a part time relationship with their churches”.

These religious can be hired for about € 20 an hour. A funeral service costs about € 400.

Those of the faithful who want a spiritual meeting without hearing constantly the word God throughout the meeting hall, are also welcomed by Schoneville and his colleagues. “Naturally, the vey conservative people go to the real church”.

The website is in Dutch.
The fees do not include travel expenses of € 0.18 a kilometer.
Pastoral counseling is € 65.00 an hour.


Fr. Pedro van Marissing, Puerto Rico

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