A Liturgy Stipend is a payment made for an intention at the Divine Liturgy. Typical Liturgy intentions are for the faithful departed, health and God's blessings for the ill or infirmed, or for the faithful in general. I know in our parish, they were for some time embarrassinging low ($10 for a Divine Liturgy; $5 for a Panachida / Moleben after Divine Liturgy). I believe the Eparchy may have set minimum limits for these Liturgy Stipends.
It is an interesting notion on many counts. Here's an excerpt coming from a Liturgical Committee meeting in the Melkite church:
The practice of "Mass Stipends" related to a sum of money is a western usage. The East knows the gifts: the eucharistic bread with a free gift of money. Many people present the bread at the same Liturgy and the priest commemorates all those who offered their gifts. Thus, to bind the Liturgy to a gift of money is unknown in the Christian East. For this purpose we have the practice to mention many intentions at the same Liturgy. We, in the East, have the practice to present gifts also outside the Divine Liturgy and to remember the people's intentions during the Paraclesis, the Blessing of Oil, Vespers or during the Blessing of Water. In this vein we can mention the Presanctified Liturgy. We ask the Holy Synod to give a clear teaching about "Mass stipends" in the Eastern Churches and an explanation to the faithful of the Western Church, who intend to give stipends to priests from the Eastern Church. We propose that the priest takes one Liturgy stipend during the day and if he receives more, he may put them in the gift box, give them to the poor or add them to the gifts for parochial projects. The new Eastern Canon Law, published in 1991, allows us to take a stipend for the Presanctified Liturgy.
Let me translate a bit - a Liturgy Stipend in Eastern tradition is actually paid to the priest. As noted above, "to bind the Liturgy to a gift of money is unknown in the Christian East ". To have the stipend go to the Church would be to bind the Liturgy to money (the gifts generally given by all, absent an intention, do not bind as they are voluntary).
Yet, the practice continues, and I am surprised (for the reasons alluded to above) that the Eparchy might get involved in setting standards for such, but not entirely so. It could also be that the mission church, which is dependent on multiple sources for support, might have asked the Eparchy for guidance. If the mission is served by a bi-ritual priest, there may be other considerations, as well.
You will note that there is an expectation that a priest would not accept more than one stipend per day and, if so, he would give the "excess" (from bination, in the case of two liturgical intentions) to charity or back to the parish. In this way, it becomes a personal, separate donation from the priest. For many years in the Eparchy of Passaic, binations were reserved for support of the seminary.
I always hate getting into these things, because many would like to argue that the Church has become a business in some respects. However, among the faithful, its easy to see otherwise. We should never ask more of the Church than we give of ourselves. The Liturgy is for everyone, by its nature. If we ask a private intention in the Liturgy, whether the money goes to the priest or elsewhere, remember that you are supporting your Church nonetheless with this stipend.
:D Oh wow! Post 1,000! But no balloons? :(