THE MEMORIAL/FUNERAL: A SERVICE OF WITNESS TO THE RESURRECTION
. . . adapted from the Book of Order,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Jesus said ..., “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die,
will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians’ attitudes and responses to the event of death. Death brings loss, sorrow, and grief to all. In the face of death Christians affirm with tears and joy the hope of the gospel. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Spirit and the community of faith. The church offers a ministry of love and hope to all who grieve. (W-6.3006)
It is difficult under emotional stress to plan wisely. The session encourages members to discuss and plan in advance when possible. The arrangements which will be necessary at the time of death, include decisions about the Christian options of burial, cremation, or donation for medical purposes. These plans should provide for arrangements that are simple, bear witness to resurrection hope, and are central to the Christian community.
The Event of Death
When death occurs, the pastor and other officers of the congregation should be informed as soon as possible. They will provide appropriate consolation and support to the family and friends, and assist them in making arrangements for the funeral.
Setting of the Service
The memorial/funeral service will ordinarily be held in the Grace First Presbyterian Church sanctuary. This worship service will offer witness to the community’s continuing life and to the Resurrection. The memorial/funeral shall be under the direction of the pastor. Others may be invited to participate as leaders in the service at the discretion of the pastor. When there are important reasons not to hold the service in the sanctuary, it may be held in another suitable place such as a home, a funeral home, a crematorium, or at the graveside. No memorials/funerals should take place on the Lord’s Day except in cases of absolute necessity and with session approval. The service shall be complete in itself, and any fraternal, civic, or military rites should be conducted separately.
Form and Order
The service may be observed before or after the committal of the body. A memorial service (without the casket present) is appropriate. Family, friends and fellow communicants will participate in affirming God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of the saints. Thanksgiving should be given for the life of the one who has died and for their presence in the Church Triumphant. If a casket is to be present, it will remain closed at all times while in the church. The use of a pall, furnished by the church, is encouraged to cover the casket in order that attention in the service be directed to God.
The music and text must be approved by the Director of Music/Organist, if the Sanctuary Choir, Sanctuary Handbells or a soloist is used. Musical texts taken from the scriptures are encouraged. The Director of Music maintains a list of appropriate selections.
The organ will be played by our Director of Music/Organist or an organist approved by the Director of Music/Organist for services held at Grace First Presbyterian Church. SECULAR MUSIC, RECORDED MUSIC AND RECORDED ACCOMPANIMENT TAPES ARE NOT PERMITTED.
Flowers and Decorations
A memorial/funeral service is a service of worship and therefore the emphasis should be to the glory of God. One floral arrangement may be put in the sanctuary, providing it does not rest upon or obscure the baptismal font, the pulpit or the communion table. All other floral tributes, pictures, or memorabilia shall be placed in the Narthex, Parlor or Great Hall.
The Pastoral Care Ministry is in charge of providing a meal for the family, usually served at the church immediately before or after the funeral/memorial service. Sandwich trays and other food may be taken to the home, if the family prefers. Contact will be made with the family as soon as possible to determine how many will be fed.
The family may use the church parlor or the great hall for a time of visitation either before or after the memorial/funeral service.
For more information on Memorials/Funerals please click Funeral Packet.