An Introduction to Funerals at
All Saints Episcopal Church
The Rev. Marisa Tabizon Thompson, Rector email@example.com
Dr. Laura Palmer Scow, Director of Music and Parish Organist firstname.lastname@example.org
Vic Culp, Office and Facilities Manager email@example.com
The Christian funeral service is for the living to celebrate the life of the deceased. The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, shall be raised.
The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, not life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn.
Funerals at All Saints are for members and, when there is clergy available, their family members.
THE FUNERAL SERVICE
The Funeral service may be held immediately before the interment of the body or the ashes, or at a time after interment. The service should be held at a time when the congregation has opportunity to be present.
When To Call
Whenever possible, when a person is near death, the Minister of the Congregation should be notified, in order that the ministrations of the Church may be provided. It is important that the death of a member of the Church should be reported as soon as possible to, and arrangements for the funeral made in consultation with, a priest of the congregation. Prayers with the family and the deceased are offered. It is important to include a priest and the church prior to the scheduling of a service.
Arrangements can be made for the visitation of family and friends, and for viewings of the body. This should be arranged with the funeral home you have chosen.
It is important to give people a chance to offer sympathy to the family and to share with each other at the time of death. Opportunities for visiting may include:
• A specified time for family to receive friends at home
• A time at the church
• After the service at the church
• The family may receive people in the Parlor prior to the service.
• Visiting hours at the funeral home
Many people find that receiving people at the church after services either in the Undercroft or Narthex puts the least burden on the family.
Receiving the Body into the Parish
It is our custom that a priest be present to receive the body or ashes when they are brought to the church. Please coordinate the arrival of your loved one to the church with the availability of a priest.
“The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter. It is appropriate that it be covered with a pall” (Book of Common Prayer, page 468). When there are ashes, they are covered in a similar way.
During the Service Itself
Prior to the beginning of the funeral service at All Saints, members of the family are invited to gather in the Parlor. It is appropriate that the family and friends come together for prayers prior to the funeral. The officiating priest will join you in the Parlor several minutes before the funeral begins and, after prayer, will escort the family to the doors of the Nave. Members of the family may choose to be seated in the Nave prior to the beginning of the service or walk in the procession into the church. The lay ministers and clergy will enter in an appropriate liturgical procession from the back of the church. This will be explained and discussed by the officiating priest in the course of preparations for the funeral. The congregation stands at the beginning of the procession. The congregation will be invited to stand, sit, and kneel as full participants in the service following the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer.
A celebration of the Eucharist is appropriate as an expression of the union of the living and the departed in Christ in the communion of saints. All who feel God's call are welcome at the altar for communion.
Family and friends are encouraged to take an active part in the service. At this emotional time, care should be taken about choosing close relatives to read. Parts of the service which are appropriate for family and friends are:
• Reading the lessons
• Leading the Prayers of the People
• Bringing the bread and wine up for communion
• Serving as Pallbearers
Music is appropriate. Hymns selected should be general hymns of faith, hymns related to the readings, Easter or All Saints hymns, or those appointed in the Hymnal for burial, and it is the custom of All Saints for these to be played on the organ or piano. Care should be taken that those likely to be in the congregation know the hymns and service music. A list of suggested hymns is attached. The Director of Music at All Saints will play at all funeral services, unless unavailable to do so. If this should happen, the Director of Music will work with the family to arrange for the musician.
Pews will be reserved at the front of the church for the family and for pallbearers. Please let the priest know ahead of time how many pallbearers there will be and how many family members will be seated in the reserved area
Ushers at the funeral fulfill two important responsibilities: seating of guests, and ushering of the congregation to the Altar Rail to receive Holy Communion. We will do our best to provide ushers at funerals. Clergy are happy to work with ushers from the funeral home to provide this service, as well.
Service bulletins for the funeral will be produced by All Saints staff.
Flowers may be displayed at the altar for the celebration of Holy Eucharist. Any flowers sent or brought to All Saints may be displayed around the Guest Table in the Narthex (entry area) of the church. If you would like to use a local florist to provide flowers for the altar, please do so in consultation with the priest responsible for the funeral.
Eulogies and Remembrances
While it can be an important part of a family’s grieving and processing to share stories of their family member, it is recommended that this take place outside the sacred structure of the funeral service in order to preserve its sacred nature. Suitable times for this are at a funeral home visitation or at a reception after the service and committal.
It is our gift to the family to provide individuals to set up and serve a coffee and cookie reception in the Narthex. The Undercroft is available to parishioners for the family’s use after a funeral at no charge, although donations are always welcome. Catering is not provided for these gatherings in the Undercroft, but can be arranged by the family.
At the Graveside/Columbarium
The committal service is very brief. It can be held either prior to the church service or following it. Family and friends may choose for this to be a private service or may open the service to all. Military honors are welcome as part of the graveside service, but extra-liturgical ceremonies, including those held by fraternal organizations, may not be held on church grounds.
For those who wish to be cremated, it is entirely appropriate that a priest and members of the family have an opportunity to pray together with the body before it is cremated. Please let the funeral home or crematorium know if you want this to happen as soon as possible. All Saints has a columbarium for the interment of cremains. Please coordinate this with the clergy, who can discuss the purchase of columbarium space.
Estate Planning and Memorial Gifts
We strongly recommend making funeral plans at the same time that you execute Wills and Powers of Attorney, or whenever you are engaged in estate planning. Gifts to All Saints may be made by individuals or by the family of the deceased. The priest will guide you if you need help directing your gift.
For members of All Saints and relatives, there are no fees for the funeral. Honorariums for the church, clergy, and/or Director of Music are welcome but not expected. While All Saints does not generally have funeral services for those not connected with the church, such services can be arranged, and fees will be at the discretion of the officiating priest and the Director of Music.
MAKING PRIOR ARRANGEMENTS FOR FUNERALS
Parishioners are encouraged to leave funeral requests on file with the parish office.
The following information may be useful to the family in making plans. If you have preferences about funeral expenses, it is helpful to spell them out here also. It is suggested you download and print the four files below, fill them out, and submit them to the church office. Leaving such plans makes it easier for families to plan appropriately at the time of death.