The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn. – The Book of Common Prayer, p. 507.
Preparing for Death
Parishioners are encouraged to make their burial plans in advance to share them with loved ones and the Parish Office. Periodically, classes and opportunities are offered to reflect on the Burial Office and to assist persons with planning, including information includes about Planned Giving (1834 Legacy Society). The Book of Common Prayer encourages adults to have a will with provisions for family and bequests for charitable and religious purposes. St. Peter’s “Advanced Planned for Burial” form is available by clicking here or at the Parish Office for review and completion. The Clergy are available to assist with form completion.
Close to or at the time of Death
When a parishioner is close to or at the time of a death, please call the Parish Office (704-332-7746) or dial the Clergy On Call (704-749-6175, 24/7 access) in order for a priest to provide the Ministration at Time of Death (Book of Common Prayer, page 462). This comforting liturgy may also be read with family members and loved ones soon after the person has died.
Planning the Service
Upon notifying the Parish Office, the Clergy will work with the friends and family of the deceased to find a suitable time for the burial liturgy. Funerals are services of public worship in The Episcopal Church and follow the Burial Office as outlined in the Book of Common Prayer (Rite I, page 469 and Rite II, page 491). It is important first to speak with a member of the Clergy before the date, time and logistics for burial can be communicated; several factors must be considered before final arrangements can be made. Consider completing St. Peter’s Advanced Planning for Burial form, to be kept on file at the Parish Office and shared with loved ones.
Holy Scripture – Scripture is read from the Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and Gospel. All but the Gospel may be read by a layperson. Scripture suggestions can be found within the Burial Office in the Book of Common Prayer pages 470 – 480 and 494 – 495. Click here to view these options online.
Music – An organist from St. Peter’s or substitute identified by the parish music department is available to play at the funeral and hymns may be chosen in consultation with the clergy. Music is meant to complement the liturgy and emphasize themes of resurrection, comfort, strength, and thanksgiving. Easter hymns are very appropriate. It is also appropriate to discuss with the clergy the possibility of including hymns especially meaningful to the deceased. A suggested honorarium of $150 can be made payable to the organist scheduled to offer music for the service. Click here to view these options online.
Flowers – The St. Peter’s Flower Guild will provide altar flowers for the burial service. The color white is used for arrangements to symbolize the joy of the Resurrection and resemble arrangements used on Easter Day. A suggested donation of $100 is customary to cover the expenses associated with creating floral arrangements. Checks should be made payable to St. Peter’s Church with “altar flowers” and the “name of the deceased” on the check memo line.
Committal of the Body or Ashes
Customarily, a member of the Clergy will accompany the family and loved ones to bury the body or commit the ashes of the deceased. St. Peter’s has both a Memorial Garden and Columbarium (on the church property) in which ashes may be committed and the name of the deceased will be engraved on a bronze plaque or plate. Contact the Parish Office for additional information, including applications to reserve space, or access the Memorial Garden or Columbarium information packets.
While the Clergy do not charge fees for officiating burials for St. Peter’s, parishioners, family, and friends may offer financial gifts to support the life, ministries, and programs of the parish. Memorials may be given to St. Peter’s Endowment, particular or general operating expenses, or officiating clergy discretionary funds for their individual support of persons and situations in need.
Prayers for the Dead
It is customary for the parish to remember the deceased in prayer after they die, on birthdays and anniversaries of his/her death and on All Saints Day.
Visitation or Reception
St. Peter’s All Souls Funeral Guild customarily will host a Visitation before the service or a Reception after the service and include light food and beverage provisions (cookies, nuts, water, lemonade, coffee and, by request, tea). Either gathering is a time to allow persons to celebrate the life of the deceased and offer communal comfort to those who mourn.
For more information about burials, email the Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Rector, using our Contact Form.