Funeral and Memorial Service Planning Guide
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.
– The Directory for Worship
A Service of Witness to the Resurrection provides comfort to the grieving by testifying to our faith and hope in Jesus Christ. The Directory for Worship and the Session of our church offer the following guidelines for a service that is appropriate, meaningful, and healing.
- The service on the occasion of death ordinarily should be held in the usual place of worship in order to join this service to the community’s continuing life and witness to the resurrection. When there are important reasons not to hold the service in the usual place of worship, it may be held in another suitable place such as a home, a funeral home, a crematorium, or at graveside.
- The Session, because of its affirmation of faith in the resurrection and commitment to providing a community of concern and support, urges that members of the congregation hold funerals or memorial services in the church sanctuary. The sanctuary is the environment in which the church family normally gathers for worship, and that space reminds us that God is the God of all the times of our lives.
- Arrangements for a service to be held in the church can be made through your funeral director and with the Administrative Assistant (Emily Holman) in the Church Office.
- The service shall be under the direction of the pastor. Others may be invited to participate as leaders in the service at the discretion and invitation of the pastor. The service may be observed on any day, and may take place before or after the committal of the body, but before is preferred.
- The service includes Scripture, an exposition of the Word, recollections of aspects of the life of the one who has died, and prayers of thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication. It is appropriate for hymns to be sung which affirm God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of the saints.
- The service may include other actions common to the community of faith and its cultures when these actions do not detract from or diminish the Christian understanding of death and resurrection. Any fraternal, civic, or military rites should be conducted separately.
- When a casket is present, it is ordinarily closed in order that attention during the service is directed to God. For a memorial service it always appropriate to have the urn present. Pictures of the deceased are not allowed in the sanctuary, or in the place of worship, but may be displayed in the Gathering Place.
- It is the pastor’s responsibility, and authority, to select the readings of scripture for the service. The pastor will select scripture readings that are in keeping with a Witness to the Resurrection, and which offer comfort to the bereaved, healing to the community of faith, and hope in the Christian proclamation.
Hymns and Music
- It is the pastor’s responsibility, and authority, to select the hymns that are sung in the service,
and to approve other musical selections that may be played as part of the prelude or postlude.
Normally the pastor consults with the family about the selection of hymns that are appropriate to the occasion of death, and below is a list of those that may be considered.
- At the pastor’s discretion, family members and friends of the deceased may speak in the service to remind the congregation of the character, commitments, and faith of the deceased. The number of speakers should be three or fewer, and the remarks of each should not exceed five minutes. The pastor may ask to review the remarks ahead of time to ensure that they are appropriate to the worship of God.
- Following the service, at the discretion of the family, a reception may be held in the Gathering Place. Arrangements should be coordinated with the Administrative Assistant (Emily Holman) in the Church Office. Alcohol may not be served at the church.
Pictures, Photo displays, and Videos
- Pictures, photos, and videos of the deceased may be displayed in the Gathering Place. Arrangements should be made with the Administrative Assistant (Emily Holman) in the Church Office.
#275 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
#836 Abide with Me
#649 Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound
#306 Blessed Be the Tie That Binds
#326 For All the Saints
#14 For the Beauty of the Earth
#81 Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
#686 God of Our Life
#22 God of the Sparrow
#39 Great Is Thy Faithfulness
#65 Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
#463 How Firm a Foundation
#625 How Great Thou Art
#157 I Danced in the Morning
#806 I’ll Praise My Maker
#840 It Is Well with My Soul
#611 Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
#366 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
#803 My Shepherd Will Supply My Need (Psalm 23)
#824 Near to the Heart of God
#643 Now Thank We All Our God
#247 Now the Green Blade Rises
#108 Of the Father’s Love Begotten
#43 On Eagle’s Wings
#687 Our God, Our Help in Ages Past
#375 Shall We Gather at the River
#473 Shepherd Me, O God
#825 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
#802 The King of Love My Shepherd Is (Psalm 23)
#236 The Strife Is O’er
#370 This Is My Father’s World
#817 We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight
#667 When Morning Gilds the Skies
#—”Glory to God” – The Presbyterian Hymnal (2013)
- If you are planning your own funeral or memorial service, which will be under the direction of the pastor, the most important thing you can do is write your faith story, not only for the sake of the pastor who will eulogize you, but also as a wonderful gift to your family. As a starting point, we encourage you to answer the following questions. Where and when did your faith begin? What experiences helped shape it? What people helped nurture and form it? What part has the church played in its development? How has faith changed you, nurtured you, upheld you, and strengthened you? How do you see your faith as part of the BIG story of faith we encounter in the Bible? What biblical story especially resonates with you, or is a metaphor for your journey of faith? What, would you say, is your ministry?
Ladue Chapel Staff
Dr. Mark P. Thomas, Pastor Office phone: 314-993-4771 x3107 Cell phone: 810-300-3036
Dr. Dieter U. Heinzl, Associate Pastor Office phone: 314-993-4771 x3106 Cell phone: 314-402-8967
Rev. Melanie A. Smith, Associate Pastor Office phone: 314-993-4771 x3105 Cell phone: 925-984-3405
David J. Erwin, Director of Music/Organist x3121
Emily Holman, Administrative Assistant x3109
Thomas M. Sargent Business Administrator x3104
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