The charity now known as Sons & Friends of the Clergy (or just 'Sons & Friends') is in fact an amalgamation over time of six Anglican clergy support organisations. The first of these, the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, was founded in 1655 by a group of sons of clergy to support destitute clergy during the time of Oliver Cromwell. In 1678, the organisation, by then known as the Governors of the Charity for Relief of Poor Widows and Children of Clergymen, received a Royal Charter from Charles II. A fuller history of the charity can be found here.
Today, Sons & Friends continues this centuries-old tradition of
supporting Anglican clergy households in times of hardship or need. We
see our purpose as promoting, sustaining and renewing the wellbeing of Anglican clergy
and their dependents so that clergy flourish and thus are able to serve God’s
people. Throughout our history we
have done this by providing financial grants to eligible households in
times of poverty or hardship, or other need. More recently
we have begun to explore how we can respond to the wider ‘clergy wellbeing’ agenda being debated within the Church.
The Church of England and its sister churches elsewhere in the UK and Ireland rely heavily on the ministry of ordained clergy. Over the years, many of these clergy suffered considerable financial hardship. The predecessor organisations to the present day Sons & Friends of the Clergy focused on making financial grants to help such clergy through difficult times. Today, most Anglican clergy receive a stipend that the Church believes is 'adequate for clergy to discharge their duties without undue financial anxiety'.
The current charitable objects of Sons & Friends of the Clergy were established in 2012 through a Charity Commission Scheme and an Order in Council as part of the amalgamation, effective 1 January 2013, of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy and the Friends of the Clergy Corporation. These objects were effectively enshrined in our 1678 Royal Charter and were further amended by a Scheme and Order in Council in November 2017. Today our objects are:
...assistance to beneficiaries, whether directly or indirectly, in such manner as and by such means as the Court of Assistants from time to time in their absolute discretion think fit for the relief or prevention of poverty or hardship or for the relief of illness and the promotion of health, whether physical or mental.
“Beneficiaries” means members of the clergy, ordinands and the spouses, former spouses, children and dependants of living or deceased members or former members of the clergy or ordinands.
a) “children” includes adopted children, step-children and persons treated as the children of a marriage or civil partnership.
b) “civil partners” means the members of a civil partnership within the meaning of Section 1 (1) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
c) “clergy” and “members of the clergy” means bishops, priests and deacons of the Anglican Communion.
d) “ordinands” means persons who are preparing for ordination as members of the clergy.
e) the “spouse” of a person means his or her wife, husband, civil partner, widow, widower or surviving civil partner.