The Episcopal Funeral Service

Christ Church Cathedral is honored to support families and individuals who are dealing with death, and will do all we can to provide guidance and comfort along the way, and support for the loved ones after.

Families or individuals who believe that the time of death is approaching are encouraged to contact the Cathedral to make arrangements for the funeral services and to permit us to provide pastoral care in their difficult time. If desired, the clergy can work with the Funeral Director to help in the planning. Options such as holding the vigil or wake in the church can lower the cost of the funeral.

For members of the Cathedral there is no charge for a funeral. People who are not active, pledging members of the Cathedral are expected to make a donation to the Cathedral for the sexton and music provided by the organist. In general, donations are appreciated.

In the Episcopal Church, the funeral liturgy is an act of worship, and the Prayer Book states that “baptized Christians are properly buried from the church.” With different options available for burial, the Cathedral is the preferable location to hold the service, but we will participate in services in Funeral Homes and cemeteries. Services in Funeral Homes require that the coffin be closed during the service, and do not allow for the Holy Eucharist.

In preparation for the funeral, the clergy meets with the individual or family to discuss plans for the service. It is ideal that a person make arrangements for his or her own funeral ahead of time, and the Cathedral will keep the funeral plan on file. In the case when there is no pre-arranged plan, the clergy and family will meet to discuss hymns and lessons to be used, and if there are family members who plan to read or give a eulogy. We suggest that no more than three people speak during the funeral service. The family should choose pallbearers. It is preferable that the pallbearers bear or guide the coffin into the church.

In keeping with the solemnity of the occasion, pre-recorded music is not allowed during the funeral. The music chosen must be appropriate and music that is not from an Episcopal Hymnal must be approved by the clergy.

The Prayer Book provides that the Eucharist may or may not be part of the funeral service. The celebration of the Eucharist is strongly recommended for the funerals of communicants. The Church teaches that the eucharist provides a bond between those who gather for holy communion and those who share in the heavenly banquet in the New Jerusalem.

The service begins when the coffin is received at the door, the pall is placed on it, the pallbearers take their places. The body is brought in feet first. The clergy and acolytes precede the body and the family follows it. Members of the family who are elderly or infirm may be seated prior to the service.

Burial anthems are recited as the coffin is brought in. Lessons and hymns follow. A homily is given, usually by the Dean, with any eulogies following the homily. Prayers follow the homily, led by a deacon or layperson. Following the Prayers the Peace is exchanged, and any announcements are shared. At that point our custom is to invite all people present to partake in the Holy Communion.

At communion, the family is invited to come forward before the rest of the congregation. Everyone is invited to come forward, and those wishing not to receive the Holy Communion may cross their arms to receive a blessing.

Following the communion is a final commendation, in which the ministers take their place at the coffin or urn. This is an opportunity for those who will not be present for a burial or committal service to say their final farewells. After the commendation, the minister and acolytes lead the coffin, if there is one present, to the hearse.

When there is a committal immediately following the funeral liturgy, the custom is for those gathered to return to their cars and follow the cars of the funeral director to the cemetery for the committal service. The committal service is itself a short rite with the Lord’s prayer and prayers of thanksgiving, returning the departed to the earth.

Please contact the Cathedral for more information or if you would like to create a funeral plan for yourself or another.

There are no funerals scheduled at this time.

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