A Simple Statement of Church Principles and Practices
The clergy should be called when death seems imminent, or as soon as death occurs. Death is a spiritual event as well as a physical change. If death occurs suddenly, a priest should be informed as soon as possible thereafter. If the illness was serious and protracted, we hope that the family will have been in touch with a priest as the illness progressed. Arrangements for the funeral should be made with the guidance of the clergy as well as of the funeral director.
The funeral or memorial service should be held as soon as possible. The period between the death and the funeral service need be no longer than is necessary to make arrangements for the service. Funerals and memorial services are a critical aid to the grieving process and a long wait can be an unnecessary strain on the survivors.
Planning for the disposition of your property is part of Christian stewardship. Throughout life we are careful stewards of what we acquire, insuring that life’s needs are met and goals reached. We give to the Church a portion of what God has richly blessed us with. The next step in this process is to be good stewards of our possessions when we pass them on to the next generation. Often you can make a larger gift to the Church through your estate than may be possible during your lifetime. Consider a bequest to the St. Luke’s Foundation, which provides for the long-term capital needs of the parish; or to the St. Luke’s Memorial Fund, which funds outreach needs and special programs; or an unrestricted gift to the parish.
The minimum use of flowers at the funeral is in keeping with simplicity of Christian burial. Flowers are a natural symbol of the Resurrection: the buried seed, long dead, comes to new life. Flowers are permitted at the Holy Table or on the tables placed near the entrance to the church. They should generally be white or mixed garden colors. They should be ordered by the family or we can put the family in contact with our Flower Guild.
The casket must be closed before the service begins, and should not be opened again. The church purposely turns us away from the lifeless body and directs our thoughts to the new life of the Resurrection. An open casket, with its invitation to view the body, is not necessary anywhere, and is discouraged during or after the funeral service in the church. The Book of Common Prayer prescribes that the coffin be covered with a pall (a handsome embroidered cloth) during the funeral service. It is also acceptable to have the coffin covered with the American flag. Over the years, a pall or flag has covered the coffin of the celebrated and the unknown, symbolizing that each of us, rich and poor alike, is equal in God’s sight.
The right place for a communicant’s funeral or memorial service is his or her parish church. The Christian life begins at the font and is nurtured at the altar. Those who die in the Lord as communicants ought to have this last service in the church hallowed by their communions.
There is no objection to involving clergy who are not connected to St. Luke’s. Episcopal clergy and clergy from other denominations are welcome to assist in the conduct of funerals at St. Luke’s. The officiating clergy will extend the proper invitation and make the visiting clergy welcome and comfortable.
Music can make a significant contribution to the richness and meaning of the service. The Music Director will play for funerals whenever possible. If the Music Director is unavailable, we will attempt to find a substitute. Hymns are encouraged in the design of the service for the beauty and the joy they bring. Listed in this document are suitable hymns which may be sung at appropriate points in the service. The music should be bright and triumphant, reflecting the powerful themes of the Prayer Book service: Love, Hope, and Resurrection. Suggestions for music (from The 1982 Hymnal):
- 180 He is risen
- 473 Lift High the Cross
- 208 The strife is o’er, the battle won
- 516 Come down, O love divine
- 287 For all the saints
- 618 Ye watchers and ye holy ones
- 383 Fairest Lord Jesus
- 645 The King of love
- 390 Praise to the Lord
- 657 Love divine, all love’s excelling
- 410 Praise my soul, the King
- 671 Amazing grace
- 439 What wondrous love
- 680 O God our help in ages past
- 460 Alleluia, sing to Jesus
- 688 A Mighty Fortress is our God
The readings ought to be scriptural. The Burial Office generally includes three lessons, one from the Hebrew Scriptures, one from the Greek Scriptures and one from the Gospels. Other non-scriptural readings which relate to the Divine may be used, but after consultation with and permission from the officiating clergy. One or two psalms may be read after one or more of the lessons. Scriptural suggestions:
- Isaiah 25:6-9 (He will swallow up death in victory)
- Isaiah 61:1-3 (To comfort all that mourn)
- Lamentations 3:22-26,31-33 (The Lord is good to them that wait for him)
- Wisdom 3:1-5,9 (The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God)
- Job 19:21-27a (I know that my Redeemer lives)
- 46 (God is our hope and strength)
- 90:1-12 (Lord, thou hast been our refuge)
- 121 (I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills)
- 130 (Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord)
- 139:1-11 (O Lord, thou hast searched me out, and known me)
- Romans 8:14-19.34-35.37-39 (The glory that shall be revealed)
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-26,35-38.42-44,53-58 (Raised in corruption)
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9 (Things which are not seen are eternal)
- 1 John 3:1-2 (We shall be like him)
- Revelation 7:9-17 (God shall wipe away all tears)
- Revelation 21:2-7 (Behold, I make all things new)
- 23 (The Lord is my shepherd)
- 27 (The Lord is my light and my salvation)
- 106:1-5 (O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious)
- 116 (My delight is in the Lord)
- John 5:24-27 (He that believeth hath everlasting life)
- John 6:37-40 (All that the Father giveth me shall come to me)
- John 10:11-16 (I am the good shepherd)
- John 11:21-27 (I am the resurrection and the life)
- John 14:1-6 (In my Father’s house there are many mansions)
Columbarium and Memorial Wall
Cremated remains of members of the parish and their families may be interred in the St. Luke’s Columbarium as part of a full funeral service or in a simple ceremony where relatives and friends of the deceased are invited to participate. The ashes will be placed in one of the niches in the wall and covered with a simple wooden cover held firmly in place with decorative brass screws. A simple engraved brass tag will list the name of the deceased. Learn more here.
All Saints Memorial Plaques
St. Luke’s offers small memorial plaques as part of our All Saints’ Chapel. This is a thoughtful opportunity to permanently remember loved ones who have been part of this place and our lives. Please contact Christine Corso in the Parish Office for more information.
Fee Schedule for Funerals and Memorials
Description of Service
|Musical Director/Organist, planning and service|
|Sexton service, preparation and clean up|
|Plaque on Memorial Wall|