A Funeral in the Church of England
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’. And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way
Minnie Louise Haskins, God Knows
The funeral of a loved one acknowledges the ending of a human life on earth. A funeral service is an opportunity for family and friends to gather in a parish church or crematorium to express their grief, give thanks to God and celebrate a life that has completed its journey through this life, and to commend the soul of the departed into God’s eternal keeping.
A funeral service conducted by a Church of England minister can vary hugely: from the very short and quiet with only a few members of a family present, to one that is longer with music, hymns, a tribute offered by one of the mourners, favourite readings, and a full church. The minister taking the service will be able to guide you through the options and possibilities, so that the service best reflects your hopes for it.
Whatever the pattern of service, the words and actions all speak of a loving God and the preciousness to him of every human being.
The Choices You and Your Family Have
The person who has died may have left a paragraph in their Will describing the sort of funeral arrangements they hoped for. Naturally, the family will want to keep to such arrangements as far as possible, and this will be reflected in the choices you make.
It is important to point out that everyone has the right to a funeral in their parish church, even if they and the deceased have not been church-goers. The Parish Church of All Saints is the spiritual ‘home’ of everyone who lives within the parish of Earls Barton and we welcome a funeral service for your loved one.
Parish clergy regard the taking of funerals as an important part of their work. They give a lot of time to visiting families, comforting those who are facing loss, finding out what service they want to use and helping them to arrange it.
The main part of the service takes place in the church, and then we go either to the Cemetery* or Crematorium for the short service of Committal. The Committal is sometimes a private occasion when the family wish to have the opportunity of saying their own personal goodbye to their loved one.
*The Parish Churchyard of All Saints was closed for burials many years ago. The Cemetery lies approximately ½ a mile from the church and is controlled by the Parish Council.
The Funeral Director plays a very important part in the co-ordinating of the funeral arrangements and will want to know if the funeral is to be in the parish church or if the parish clergy are to take the service in the crematorium. They will advise you on the fees for a funeral service in church, at a cemetery, or crematorium.
It is possible to have the funeral service at the Crematorium only, conducted by parish clergy.
Although rare nowadays, a funeral service can be conducted entirely at the graveside.
Thanksgiving and Memorial Services
It is possible for you to have a private Funeral Service with Committal before gathering for a Thanksgiving or Memorial Service after this at the Parish Church, on the same day or on another occasion. The parish clergy are happy to discuss your Order of Service for this.
The Christian View of Death
A funeral service will reflect the personality of the one who has died and the circumstances of their death. Feelings of grief, gratitude, joy and sadness often intermingle. Sometimes, a sense of tragedy is uppermost, especially when it is a young person who has died. When it is the end of a long and fruitful life, the feelings of thanksgiving may be strongest.
There are times, too, when the death of a faithful Christian seems to be the consummation of all they have lived for, and the funeral service is a triumphal departure for their true home.
Funeral services always raise profound questions about the meaning of life and death; Jesus himself spoke of a life-giving God: ‘the God of the living, not of the dead.’ Christians believe that Christ’s resurrection at Easter is the triumph of good over evil and of life over death, and has made eternal life available to us.
What happens after we die remains a mystery. What Heaven is like, no one can exactly say, but the Bible affirms that in God’s kingdom we shall delight in the presence and love of God and of the whole company of heaven. Whatever is wonderful about life here on earth is only a glimpse of the glory of the life that is to come. The comfort and strength we need to come to terms with death and bereavement is to be found in the promises of Jesus Christ, in the hope of the Resurrection and in the belief that our departed loved ones are safe in the hands of God.
In the days before and after the funeral there may not be much opportunity to reflect on these things, but the parish clergy, bereavement visitors and others involved in the service, will be glad to offer help in thinking through how you have been affected personally by the death of your loved one.
Click HERE for some Prayers and Readings Which You May Find Helpful
The Church of England site has some more information about Funerals which you may also find helpful.
Click HERE to go to the funeral pages of the Church of England Site