Type of Service

The pastor will be present with loved ones at the time of loss and will help arrange the service.  It is important to provide the name of the funeral director so that the church can coordinate the day and time of the service.  There are several forms of services:

  • Funeral:  A funeral service is usually conducted within days of death.  It is generally held at the church although it can be held at a funeral home.  The closed casket or urn may be present.
  • Memorial:  A memorial service is conducted at the church and can take place days or weeks after death.  A longer timeline can allow more opportunity for friends and family to receive notice and make arrangements to attend.  The casket or urn is not present.
  • Committal:  The committal is a short service at the graveside or columbarium that specifically ministers to the needs of loved ones.  It consists of brief scripture readings and prayers.  The committal may accompany a funeral or memorial service and may be held before or after the service.  The committal service can be a small gathering for close relatives of the deceased person.

Scheduling a Service:

The minister and the Church Administrator ordinarily work with the loved ones to set a date for the funeral or memorial service, and the pastor who will be officiating helps coordinate communication with the funeral director in a timely way so that notice may be included with the obituary sent to the newspapers, with attention to publication deadlines.  It is the custom at First Presbyterian Church not to hold funerals, memorial services, or receptions on Sundays due to the full worship schedule on that day.

Order of Service

The content of the funeral or memorial service is the responsibility of the officiating minister and is guided by the Directory for Worship in the Book of Order and the Book of Common Worship.

The Service of Witness to the Resurrection has some basic components which include:

These components may vary somewhat.  The officiating minister shapes the order of service in consultation with loved ones and the previously expressed wishes of the deceased.

The service is intended to be personal, while praising and thanking God that in life as in death, we are held securely in God’s hands.  Family and friends are invited to participate in the service when appropriate.  A limited number of people may be invited to offer brief remembrances during the service, which is arranged in advance with the officiating pastor.

Once the service has been planned, First Presbyterian Church will print the worship bulletin.

Other Details of the Service

  • Participation by Other Ministers:  One of the ministers of First Presbyterian Church will conduct the service.  An invitation to assist in the service may be extended to clergy beyond First Church.  It is customary for the invitation to be extended through the officiating minister.
  • Music at the Service:  The church Director of Music is in charge of all music used in the funeral service.  The director will assist you in selecting appropriate music.  By request, a soloist or special music can be arranged for additional fees.  It is appropriate for worshipers to sing songs that affirm God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection, and the assurance of the communion of saints.  Popular favorite songs of sentimental character or secular connotation are best reserved for a reception following the service.
  • Floral Arrangements:  The Church Administrator or the Life Events Team can provide names of florists who are familiar with the church as well as recommendations for both the service and the reception, if held on site.
  • Ushers:  Two to four ushers will be required for the service (depending up on the anticipated attendance).  Families are asked to  make arrangements for ushers to be present.  One regular usher of the church will be present to assist.  Ushers should be at the church 30 minutes before the scheduled service time.
  • Guest Book:  A guest book is customarily placed on a table in the Narthex.  Such books are usually provided by the funeral directors as part of their service but it is best to check with them beforehand.
  • Photos:  Photos may be placed in the Narthex or Old Buttonwood Hall if there is to be a reception.  One easel can be provided.  If you would like the guest book and any pictures to be relocated from the Narthex to Old Buttonwood Hall, please make arrangements beforehand with one of the ushers.
  • Expressions of Sympathy and the Death Notice:  Often people request that in lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy be directed to a memorial fund or a specific charity or organization.  These wishes are included in the death notice.
  • Reception:  Loved ones may choose to host a reception following the service that gives family and friends time to visit.  First Presbyterian Church can provide space for a reception along with basic refreshments of coffee, tea, and water, schedule permitting.  If loved ones wish to provide refreshments, the Life Events Team will be happy to provide recommendations about caterers.  All arrangements should be discussed with the Life Events Team to accommodate set up and delivery.
  • Columbarium:  First Presbyterian Church has a columbarium on its premises. Information on reserving a niche in the columbarium can be provided by the church office.  Committal services for persons who have reserved a niche in First Church’s columbarium may be arranged with the minister.