A funeral service is by no means all about mourning and loss; it is a celebration of a loved one’s life and all that that involves. The service offers all this to God on behalf of all present and in so doing is a powerful encouragement to faith, hope and love.

Does a Funeral Always Take Place In A Church?

Church of England ministers can conduct funerals in four different venues:

  • A church - normally be the church building where they are based
  • A crematorium chapel
  • A municipal or private cemetery - this might be in the cemetery chapel or just at the graveside
  • A natural burial ground - the service here could be in the chapel or meeting room of the ground, or at the graveside.

Funerals at St Thomas's Osbaldwick and St James's Murton

What Happens During A Funeral?

Church of England funerals usually follow a general order of service including the gathering, readings and sermon, prayers, commendation and farewell, committal and dismissal. A funeral service may also take place within a celebration of Holy Communion, and when this is the case the Liturgy of the Sacrament will usually occur after prayers but before the commendation and farewell.

The first part of a funeral service is The Gathering. During the gathering the minister may meet the coffin at the door of the church. The minister will welcome everyone and introduce the service. Prayers of Penitence and The Collect may be said and tributes may also be made at this point.

Readings and Sermons follow. One or more readings from the Bible will be said and may be followed by psalms or hymns. Following either the reading, prayers or hymns a sermon will be given.

A sequence of prayers at a Church of England funeral usually begins with thanksgiving for the life of the deceased, prayers for those who mourn, Prayers of Penitence (if they were not said at the gathering) and finally prayers for readiness to live in the light of eternity.

During the Commendation and Farewell the deceased is commended to God in an authorised manner. The minister stands by the coffin and, if appropriate, the mourners may gather round too. A period of silence leads into the prayer of commendation, in which the person who has died is entrusted to the love and mercy of God.

The committal is perhaps the most solemn moment of a Church of England funeral service, and it may take place at the graveside, in a crematorium chapel or in the church before the body of the deceased is transported to the crematorium. During the committal either the coffin is lowered in to the grave or the coffin is moved out of site at the crematorium. If the committal takes place at the grave, then handfuls of earth will be scattered over the top of the coffin once it has been fully lowered. This can be a tremendously emotional time for the bereaved.

How Can I Decide On A Bible Reading?

You may have some ideas for a Bible passage already, or you may need more help with the choices. Talk through with the minister about what options are available. A selection of some of the most popular choices of Bible readings can be found here.

Is It OK To Take A Child To A Funeral?

If the child wants to go, and the family is comfortable with the decision, there is no reason why a child should not go to a funeral. It is helpful if a particular adult is able to be with children and explain to them what is happening.

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