Worship > Baptisms, Confirmations, Weddings, Funerals > Funerals
Funerals and Memorial Services at Christ Church
It is so very difficult to experience the death of a dear one in our lives. We are so full of conflicting emotions at this time: sadness, anger, confusion, and maybe even relief. They are all normal. The rector is ready to help you through the next steps as you consider a funeral or memorial service to for your dear one or to plan your own memorial service.
How can I feel sure that my loved one is in a place of light and love?
As followers and friends of Jesus we believe that God is unconditionally loving and that Jesus lived and died so that we too may live and die in the hope of his resurrection. And we know that the Holy Spirit always aids us in living the way that Jesus taught us to live. All these certainties lead us to believe that our loved ones—and ourselves, one day—will be held forever in the arms of our infinitely loving God. We all will pass into another kind of reality—life will be changed, not ended.
Cremation vs. Burial
The Church allows both cremation and burial. We believe, with the Church universal, that there will be a bodily resurrection on the last day. But we also realize that even if a body is buried intact, it will undergo decay. Therefore we trust in the power of God to bring about bodily resurrection, whether the person was buried or cremated. Cremation is usually less costly and a good expression of stewardship of our earth.
Many people purchase space for the burial of ashes in a local cemetery. Other people prefer to scatter the ashes of their loved one in a location that holds special meaning for the family.
We can hold an interment service after the memorial service if you choose. There is a very short service of interment in the Book of Common Prayer. After the memorial (funeral) service in the church we proceed to the place of burial. We usually have the memorial service before the interment so that the ashes or the body will be present in the church, following longstanding tradition. It is felt that the presence of the deceased one’s remains aids in the mourning process for the family and loved ones.
Eucharist or simply a service of prayer?
The rector prefers that the service be in the context of the Holy Eucharist, if the family is comfortable with that. Celebrating the Eucharist together gives the mourners an opportunity to receive the comfort and strength of the Sacrament and to experience the healing love of Christ in community. A prayer service is shorter but lacks the particular grace of the Holy Communion.
Why does the priest wear white? Isn’t black more appropriate for mourning?
The Church specifies that the celebrant wear white vestments and that the altar hangings be white because that is the color of rejoicing. It is the color of Easter—of resurrection. Even though we are terribly sad, we rejoice that our loved one has entered into eternal life in the hope of the resurrection. We also light the Paschal Candle—the Easter Candle—at each memorial service. This reminds us that Jesus has been raised from the dead, and that our loved one has been raised into eternal life as well. This same candle is present at each baptism as a symbol of that same eternal life. It's a wonderful symbol of the "circle of life."
Planning the service
When you call our office (203 938-2872), we will set aside a time for you to come in and meet with the rector. Or the rector will visit you at home if you prefer. At that time we’ll reminisce about your loved one and give you time to process the various things you are going through right now. We’ll also plan the service so that your loved one’s wishes and your own preferences are honored as much as possible.
We’ll make every effort to use your (or your loved one’s) favorite hymns. Don’t hesitate to suggest the things you’d like to see and sing.
When you meet with the rector, she will guide you through this process. It’s a time to honor your loved one by choosing readings that fit his or her personality or personal history. And it is also very appropriate to choose family members or friends to read the Scriptures during the service.
Most families arrange with a local florist to have two arrangements made to sit behind the altar. Sometimes, larger arrangements are brought over from a funeral home. We may put one on the floor in front of the altar, and others near the entrance of the church. That is up to you.
Having friends speak
Having your friends speak at the service is encouraged. There is a time in the service at which a few brief remembrances are appropriate. We do ask that they be brief, remembering that there will also be a homily to follow after the gospel.
Choosing an organist
We will provide an organist for you. Ms. Martha Meyer, our organist, will usually be the organist for the service, unless she is not available due to a schedule conflict. When that happens, we will find another local organist.
Photos & Posters
Photos or other remembrances may be placed on the table at the entrance to the church, or in the Parish Hall if there is to be a reception there, but not in the worship space. If you wish, you may mount photos on poster board—we have an easel you may use for display purposes.
Some families choose to provide their own guest book for people to sign as they enter the church. They may be available at the funeral director's establishment. Your use of a guest book is entirely optional.
Normally, we put announcements on the service bulletin, such as where memorial contributions may be sent or about a reception following the service. We encourage families to suggest memorial contributions to Christ Church and to the favorite charity of the loved one. If everyone is invited to a reception, an invitation and directions are normally included in the bulletin.
It is customary for the family to have a reception after the service for the guests. This may be held at the home of one of the family members, at a restaurant, or in our Parish Hall.
We ask nominal fees for the expenses we incur in putting on a service. This includes a fee for bulletin preparation, for the organist, and for the use of the Parish Hall (if used for a reception). The parish also requests that a donation be made to the church. This donation will eventually be used to help people in need.
Please call the Reverend Marilyn Anderson at 203.938.2872, if we can be of any assistance to you at this time.