The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy.  It finds all its 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, nor 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 un-Christian.  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 (Book of Common Prayer, page 507).

“I am the resurrection and life, says the Lord; whoever has faith in me shall have life.”  So begins the service for The Burial of the Dead from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church (The Book of Common Prayer pp. 469-503). According to the rubrics (directions) from the Prayer Book, the funeral or memorial service for a member should take place in the parish church and if possible, at a time when the congregation has the opportunity to be present.

The Pastoral ministry of the clergy and staff of Church of the Holy Spirit is to assist those who are mourning in the planning of such a service. Sometimes in the midst of grief it is difficult to focus on the details involved in planning a service.  The clergy and staff strive to be sensitive to those who are grieving. To that end we offer some guidelines which we hope will be helpful to those who find themselves in the position of planning a service (or to anyone who wants to plan their own service ahead of time and file the service with the office).

1. As a general rule, either a funeral home or a member of the family contacts the Church office. The date and time of the service is arranged in direct consultation with the clergy and according to the availability of times on the Church calendar. If the priest is unavailable when the family or funeral home calls, then the pertinent information will be taken with the assurance that the priest will contact that person or funeral home as soon as possible.

2. The family or person arranging the service meets with the clergy to discuss the particulars of the service: will the service include a Eucharist, which lessons are to be read, who might read the lessons, whether or not there will be music, where the interment will take place, whether or not the name of the deceased be engraved on the COHS memorial stone, and whether or not there will be a reception.  This information is then passed on to the appropriate people, i.e. Music Director, Verger, Altar Guild and Flower Guild.

There is no “charge” for the services of the clergy.  However, a donation for the Rector’s discretionary fund is always welcome.  The check should be made payable to Church of the Holy Spirit, and include the clergy name on the bottom along with the funeral party’s name. The discretionary funds enable the clergy to give assistance from time-to-time to those who are in great need in the community.

3. The service appropriately takes place in the Church, but may also be held at the funeral home chapel. The officiant at a burial office and celebrant of any Eucharist will be the Rector of this parish. If the family wishes that other clergy assist at the burial, please notify the Rector at an early stage in the planning. The Rector will, in turn, contact those clergy and make the necessary arrangements.

Church of the Holy Spirit uses only the burial offices provided in the Book of Common Prayer, 1979 and Enriching Our Worship 2, a resource for the Episcopal Church. At the time of the service, if the coffin has been brought to the Church, it is closed and covered with the pall from the time of its arrival. If the deceased has been cremated, the box or urn will likewise be covered with a pall.

It is appropriate that friends of the deceased function as lectors in the service, reading the lessons. If desired, however, lectors will be provided from among the Eucharistic Ministers of the parish.

3. Church of the Holy Spirit will provide the service leaflet. If the family would like a special cover, obituary or other information to be included, it must be provided by the funeral home or the family in a “camera ready” format. There is a charge for leaflets in excess of 50 copies.

4. If music is desired, there is a charge for the services of the Music Director. If a soloist or instrumentalist is requested, there is an additional charge for that person(s). Normally the soloist is hired by the Music. All music will be chosen in consultation with the Music Director and with her approval.

5.  If requested by the family, the Flower Guild will provide appropriate flowers at the altar for a fee payable to Church of the Holy Spirit. Arrangements for flowers with our Flower Guild are dependent upon the availability of volunteers. Alternatively, the family may have flowers prepared, delivered and put in place by a local florist; this must be done in consultation with the Rector and/or Flower Guild. Sometimes friends and relatives wish to donate flowers. We encourage people to honor the deceased by giving money in lieu of flowers to the ministries of Church of the Holy Spirit. Flower arrangements which are delivered on the day of the service are displayed in the Narthex or in the Parish Hall.

6. Any contributions made to the church in memory of a person who has died or given to the church through a bequest or an endowment by the deceased person are used for the ministry and mission of the church, not for the final expenses of the deceased. All funds donated to the church are spent at the discretion of the clergy and/or Vestry.

7. All fees related to the final expenses of the deceased, including but not limited to, the services of the funeral home, burial, and ongoing maintenance of the gravesite are the responsibility of the family of the deceased.

8. If the deceased person’s cremains are to be interred at Church of the Holy Spirit, they must be either in a biodegradable container or interred directly into the ground. There is a fee for the interment that is set by the contractor. The Church will facilitate arrangements for the excavation and burial with a local burial service which will bill the family directly.

9.  If the name of the deceased is to be engraved on the Memorial Stone, there will be a fee as determined by the engraver. The engraving shall be done in a manner consistent with the current engravings and with the prior approval of the Rector. The church will facilitate arrangements with the monument engraving service; the family will be responsible for reviewing and approving the contract with the engraving service. The family will be billed directly by the engraving service.

10. If the family wishes to hold a reception at Church of the Holy Spirit, arrangements must be made in advance with our Hospitality Chairperson. The costs of the caterer, food, beverages and paper goods will be the responsibility of the family.

11. There is a sexton fee.

12. For individuals who are not active (attend services on a regular basis and participate in the ministries of the church unless prevented from so doing by frail health), pledging (make an ongoing, weekly pledge commitment to COHS) members of COHS, additional fees for use of the sanctuary and parish hall will apply.

For materials to assist you in planning for the end of your life, please click here to download a helpful booklet provided by the Episcopal Church Foundation.


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