The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians' attitudes and responses to the event of death…. 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.
Just as the church embraces us in our baptism and throughout our Christian life, so it should embrace us in our death and in our hope of resurrection to eternal life. The purpose of this page is to assist members of Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church in the realistic consideration of this eventuality and the decisions that are required at the death of a loved one.
Because it is difficult under emotional stress to plan wisely, all are encouraged to discuss and plan in advance the arrangements which will be necessary at the time of death, including those decisions about the Christian options of burial, cremation, or donation for medical purposes. These plans should provide for arrangements which are simple, which bear witness to the resurrection hope, and in which the Christian community is central.
By prior consideration and planning, the family of the deceased can be relieved of some difficult decisions, and the intentions of the deceased for an appropriate service of worship can be maintained.
Upon the death of one of our members, the minister of the church should be notified as soon as possible. This is best accomplished by contacting the church office. Our minister also earnestly desires to know of those who need comfort and counsel as they face death. By being involved early in situations of death or impending death, the minister can help immensely with the necessary decisions regarding funeral homes, disposition of the body, and service arrangements, as well as caring for the spiritual needs of those involved.
Types of Services
All services conducted by the minister of the church are services of worship for the community of faith. While the form of services may differ, each is a Service of Witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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.
The Funeral Service is a service where the body is present in either a casket or an urn. The Funeral Service is concluded with a Service of Committal at the burial site.
The Graveside Service is a service that takes place at the burial site. The Service of Committal is a part of the Graveside Service.
Location of Service
The service on the occasion of death ordinarily is held in the usual place of worship in order to join this service to the community's continuing life and witness to the resurrection. The service shall be under the direction of the pastor.
The church sanctuary is an appropriate place for a Memorial or Funeral Service. Here on the church property is where we worship every Sunday. Here is where we baptize our children, celebrate marriage, gather at the Lord's table, and remember the love and grace of God. Here we are surrounded by the symbols of our Christian faith. In this place we have tangible reminders of the "great cloud of witnesses" that surround us and the community of faith that supports us with compassion and love.
Visitation is often held at one of the Midland area funeral homes. It also occurs here at church, usually just prior to the time of the service.
The Service of Witness to The Resurrection
Memorial, Funeral, and Graveside Services are acts of worship among the Christian community. The purpose of such worship services is to glorify God, to affirm our belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and to comfort the bereaved. Although gratitude and honor are to be expressed to God for the life and witness of the deceased, the main focus of worship is upon God and the promise of resurrection.
The Schedule of Worship
The service begins with scriptural sentences. It is appropriate for worshipers to sing hymns, psalms, spirituals, or 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; an affirmation of faith may be made by the people. Aspects of the life of the one who has died may be recalled. Prayers shall be offered, giving thanks to God. 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 Scriptures are a rich comfort to which Christians and Jews alike have relied for comfort and assurance in times of grief. The minister will guide the list of appropriate scripture passages, and would welcome suggestions of those with particular meaning for the family or the deceased.
Hymns should be those which show the goodness and grace of God, and which give comfort those who grieve. The minister and the director of music will guide the appropriate hymns.
The director of music will provide suitable sacred music and is available for consultation with the family concerning these musical songs. The appropriateness of musical songs will be determined by the minister and music director. Instrumentalists or vocalists may also be employed, but must be approved and contracted by the church's music director. The family is expected to cover the cost of any musicians including the church organist.
In the case of cremation, the urn containing the ashes is usually only present at the time of committal, following or preceding the Funeral Service.
In keeping with the simplicity and understanding of the Christian faith to avoid ostentation, flowers are limited to two arrangements placed on either side of the Communion Table. This will encourage worshipers to focus their attention on the promises of Scripture and the grace of God. Typically, the family of the deceased will furnish the arrangement of flowers for the service.
Other Fraternal, Civic, or Military Rites
The service shall be complete in itself, and any fraternal, civic, or military rites should be conducted separately.
The service of worship is an act of the Christian community in which the wider community is welcome. If other rites take place, these rites shall be conducted apart from the service and place of worship.
Costs and Fees
There are no charges or fees to church members for use of the church's facilities, or for the services of the minister. Our director of music is a part-time staff person. As such her fee for services is $100. The only other costs to the family will be for the flowers the family provides at the service and for additional musicians and vocalists the family may request.