Funerals and Memorials

The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christian’s 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.

It is appropriate to have the funeral or memorial service in the church, using either the Sanctuary or Kenan Chapel. It is in the church that we were baptized and married. It is here that we made promises in the baptism of our children. It is here that the congregation has worshiped week by week. Here we have opened our lives to the Lord, found forgiveness, taken the Bread and the Cup, and joined with our families and friends in a commitment to follow the Master. Therefore, it is appropriate to recognize the end of our earthly life in the House of the Lord.

Memorial Service
The Memorial Service is a service where the body is not present. Interment of the remains in a Service of Committal has either preceded the memorial service or will take place at a later time.

Funeral Service
The Funeral Service is a service where the body is present either in a casket or an urn. Usually the Funeral Service is concluded with a Service of Committal at the burial site. When a casket is present, it shall be closed.

Service of Committal
The Service of Committal (often referred to as a graveside service) occurs at the interment site where the remains of the deceased are laid to rest. It is usually brief. If no other service (Memorial or Funeral) is held, the Service of Committal may take a longer form.

One or more of our clergy will conduct the funeral or memorial service, following the Book of Common Worship and Reformed theological traditions. If the family wishes to invite a guest minister to participate in the service, our Pastor shall extend an invitation. However, the service shall be under the direction of our Pastor or one of our Associate Pastors.

Memorial, Funeral and Committal Services are acts of worship within the Christian community. In the Reformed tradition, these worship services celebrate the Resurrection hope and new life as well as give thanks for the life of the deceased. The service begins with scriptural sentences. It is appropriate for worshipers to sing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs which affirm God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of the saints. Scripture shall be read, a sermon or other exposition of the Word may be proclaimed, and the people may make an affirmation of faith. Aspects of the life of the one who has died may be recalled and prayers shall be offered. The service ends by commending the one who has died to the care of the eternal God and sending the people forth with a benediction. The service of worship, an act of the Christian community, is complete in itself. If any other rites take place, they shall be conducted at the committal apart from the service and place of worship.

A funeral or memorial service in the reformed tradition usually follows this order of worship:
Opening Voluntary
Call to Worship
Old Testament Lesson
New Testament Lesson
Sermon or other Exposition of the Word
(Hymn or Anthem)
Affirmation of Faith
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Closing Voluntary

Appropriate remarks giving thanks for the life of the deceased and tributes to the deceased’s witness to the faith may be offered by the family or friends, but these shall be brief and few in number.

The music for a funeral or memorial service shall be appropriate for a service of worship at First Presbyterian Church. The Director of Music shall provide music for the service in consultation with the Pastor. Additional musicians may be requested, but they must be approved and arranged for by the Director of Music.

A psalm or hymn of praise is appropriate at the beginning of the service. The family may select hymns from the following list or others from the hymnal.
210 Our God, Our Help in Ages Past
260 A Mighty Fortress is Our God
276 Great Is Thy Faithfulness
482 Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty
464 Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
478 Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

Easter hymns affirming the resurrection are appropriate at the end of a funeral or memorial service. This could also be the place for funeral hymns which are strong and which affirm a long life well lived. Some suggestions are:
118 The Day of Resurrection!
119 The Strife is O’er
376 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
The Church’s One Foundation
For All the Saints
543 Abide With Me

The church has available a pall for funeral services. A pall is a large cloth that covers the casket during the service. The pall reminds us of our faith in resurrection and symbolizes our having put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness in baptism. It reminds us that in death all believers are equal. If used, the pall shall be placed on the casket upon entry into the narthex and removed before the casket exits the narthex.

Floral decorations shall be limited to a single arrangement of flowers on the Pulpit pedestal and a casket spray if the pall is not used. The family is responsible for providing the flowers for the Pulpit pedestal if that is desired. The church office can offer guidance in making arrangements for flowers.

No flash photographs may be taken in the Sanctuary or Chapel from the time worshipers begin to arrive until the service is over. Videography is permitted in the Sanctuary from the balcony only, provided no additional lighting is used. Since there is no unobtrusive way for videography in the Chapel, it is not permitted. No photographs of the deceased or other memorabilia shall be displayed in the Sanctuary, Chapel or Narthex. An audiotape of the service is available upon request.

The Columbarium and Memorial Garden is a place of interment for church members and their immediate family who choose cremation. It provides a quiet, dignified place of peace and beauty for loved ones to meditate and pray. This garden fulfills, in an urban location, the traditional church function of providing space on church grounds for the disposition and identification of the earthly remains of those who have shared the faith and fellowship.

Columbarium 1

The columbarium is a permanent structure with niches where urns are placed. The name of the deceased, date of birth and date of death is engraved on the niche cover. The memorial garden is provided for those who wish to have their remains scattered. The name of the deceased, date of birth and date of death may be engraved on a memorial plaque located in the garden.

A service of committal in the memorial garden is a service of worship and shall be appropriate for a service of worship at First Presbyterian Church. Any desired music must be approved by the Pastor. The Director of Music can assist in securing musicians.

Information is available in the church office as to the cost of niches and nameplates and for reserving a niche and choosing a location in the columbarium wall.
Click here to read section 63.0 in the First Presbyterian Church Policies and Procedure Manual for detailed information. If you have any questions, please email or call the church office at 762-6688.

There are no charges for use of the church’s facilities or for the services of the Pastor and Organist. Costs to the family related to the memorial or funeral service will be for flowers and additional musicians the family may request.

If friends and loved ones wish to designate a memorial that reflects the interests of the deceased, our church offers numerous opportunities for gifts to existing funds. The family receives acknowledgement of any memorial gift.

The family is welcome to receive friends in the sanctuary following the service, or a reception in The Gathering Place may be requested. Arrangements for the reception should be made with the Pastor.