Remembering Loved Ones

Funerals at Hope

Funeral/Memorial Planning Guide and Worksheet

Jesus said “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you myself, so that where I am, there you may be also…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:3, 27)

This material is designed to provide a tool for planning for the future when your life on this earth ends, support and guide families making plans upon the death of a loved one.

In the first days following a loved one’s death, the family makes an average of 200 decisions. During such an emotional, demanding and stressful time, plans that have been made earlier lighten the load after death. If you’ve not made advanced plans, this guide will be helpful to you as you make arrangements for services and burial of your loved one.

This guide will walk you through a series of questions. Your responses can be marked on the worksheet at the end. The pastors at Hope Presbyterian Church are available to discuss any items with you. When you are finished, please share your worksheet with a family member or friend who will act on your behalf after your death. It would also be helpful to contact a Hope pastor to share your worksheet so it can be held in safekeeping for the future.

The Christian

The Christian funeral/memorial is a worship service under the direction of an ordained minister. The minister works in coordination with the family to plan a service that is faithful to God and meaningful to the family and other mourners. The purpose of the funeral/memorial is to worship God and to comfort the mourners. 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ should always pervade the worship, emphasizing the reality of death and the hope for new life. Therefore, the traditional color for the service is white, signifying resurrection.

When a death occurs, the church and/or pastor should be informed as soon as possible, in order that they may provide appropriate consolation and support to the family and friends, and assist in making arrangements for the worship.

Except for compelling reasons, the worship for a believing Christian is often held in the church, at a time when the congregation can be present. The ceremonies and rites of fraternal, civic, or military organizations, if any, may be included at the discretion of, and under the direction of, the pastor.

Family members, friends, or members of the congregation may be invited by the minister to share in the worship by pre-arrangement; however, there is no opportunity for tributes or remarks from the general congregation. Video presentations are to occur in the narthex before and after the worship, or in the Fellowship Hall during the reception, but not in the sanctuary.

During a funeral (when the remains are present), the coffin shall be closed prior to the worship in order for worshippers to focus on the message and their help in God. The casket may be covered with a white funeral pall.

Planning Faithfully,
Choosing Wisely

What is the difference between a funeral and a memorial service?

Simply put, at a funeral the body of the deceased is present, whereas at a memorial service either the deceased’s ashes or no remains are present. Both services provide an opportunity to proclaims God’s death-defeating acts in Christ as we remember all the God has given us in the life of our loved one.

How does the Church view cremation?

Cremation is an acceptable way for Christians to deal with one’s earthly remains. The Scriptures tell us that we are formed “of the dust of the ground: (Genesis 2:7), and, after death, we shall return “again to dust.” (Job 34:15)

If I choose cremation, do I need to secure the services of a funeral director?

We highly recommend working with a funeral director. This professional will ease the strain upon family members by coordinating all the details and thus contributing to your wishes being carried out with dignity and honor. Even if cremation is your desire, a funeral director handles many details that are not taken care of by the church, the pastor, or family members. Attempting to save money by not using a funeral director is likely to cause confusion and frustration at a time when you most need guidance and support. 

Should I make pre-arrangements with a funeral director?

Making the decision to pre-arrange some aspects of your funeral and/or burial is helpful. An appointment with a funeral director in advance of death is a wise step to help you decide what you and your family need from the many services available. If you are a family member caring for a dying loved one, making an initial contact now with a funeral director can be very helpful and will lessen the decisions and demands you’ll face upon death. Hope PC pastors are available to talk with you about the selection of a funeral director or to refer you to funeral directors held in high regard.

How soon after death does a funeral or memorial take place?

Funeral services are generally held within three to five days after death, thereby allowing appropriate time for family members and friends to gather for the services. Memorial services can be held at any time. However, waiting for weeks or even months after a death will have a bearing on finding a sense of closure, and this will impact the grief work that follows the death of a loved one. Therefore, it is recommended that a memorial service be held within a few weeks after death. If a funeral or memorial service is to be followed by a burial that same day, the schedule of the cemetery workers dictates that burials be held during normal business hours for city cemeteries. Surcharges apply for weekend burials, and burials are not available on holidays. It is also possible to have the burial before the service which allows for a late afternoon or evening service. Funeral or memorial services on Sunday are highly discouraged, as Sundays are reserved for the worship services of the congregation.

What fees are associated with a funeral or memorial service at Hope Presbyterian Church?

Funeral/memorial services are provided as an honor of the church; however, services of professionals are not included. Service fees are as follows: organist compensation: $150, soloist $100. A suggested honorarium for the pastor is $350. (Should circumstances dictate, please feel at ease discussing any fees with the pastor.)

What is the Hope Memorial Garden?

From earliest times, churches and churchyards have served as places of interment. In keeping with this tradition, Hope Presbyterian Church created the Hope Memorial Garden in 2002 as a dedicated sacred space at the south end of the sanctuary for the interment of the cremains of members of Hope Presbyterian Church and their loved ones. The Memorial Garden dignifies the memory of those interred there and provides a place of serenity, comfort, reflection and connection for their families. The garden’s oval design suggests the circle of life which begins and ends in God. It is a place for individual prayer and contemplation.

Click for more about the Memorial Garden.

Please contact the church office for guidance on pre-planning or planning a funeral or memorial. 

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