“The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians’ attitudes and responses to the event of death. Death brings loss, sorrow, and grief to all. In the face of death Christians affirm with tears and joy the hope of the gospel. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Spirit and the community of faith. The church offers a ministry of love and hope to all who grieve.”
Directory for Worship, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., W-4.10001
Funeral or memorial services at the Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair are always “witnesses to the resurrection” — that is to say, they celebrate the love of God and the hope of the Christian gospel to all who grieve.
Practically speaking, this means that all we say and do in worship will affirm this central truth of our faith. The church's pastors and staff work with families to create a worship experience that gives thanks for the gift of the deceased's unique life as well as the Good News that God's love reaches and embraces our loved ones even across the boundary of death.
One of PCUM's pastors should be notified as soon as possible after the death of one of our members. Both of our pastors are available to provide comfort, to assist with the practical realities of dealing with grief and loss, and to work closely with the family to create a service that honors God's gift of the unique life of the deceased.
Funeral and memorial services are always under the direction of one of the pastors of the church. Other clergy may be invited to participate at the request of the family and with the approval of PCUM's pastor(s) and Session (governing board).
The memorial service is a service where the body or remains of the deceased are not present. Interment has either preceded the memorial service or will occur at a later date.
The funeral service is a service where the body is present in either a casket or an urn. The funeral is typically concluded with a service of committal at the burial site. If there is a casket present at a funeral service, the church requests that the casket be closed “in order that attention in the service be directed to God” (Directory for Worship, W-4.10005).
The graveside service is a funeral service that takes place at the burial/interment site.
The Order of Worship for a funeral or memorial service
Presbyterian worship is characterized by its simplicity, and memorial or funeral services are no different: “The service begins with scriptural sentences. It is appropriate for worshipers to sing hymns, psalms, or spiritual songs which affirm God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of the saints. Scripture shall be read; a sermon or other exposition of the Word may be proclaimed; an affirmation of faith may be made by the people. Aspects of the life of the one who has died may be recalled. Prayers shall be offered, giving thanks to God…. The service ends by commending the one who has died to the care of the eternal God and sending the people forth with a benediction” (Directory for Worship, W-4.10004).
Scriptures — The Scriptures are a rich resource to which Christians have turned for comfort and assurance in times of grief. While planning for the service, the pastors will work with the family to guide the selection of appropriate lessons from the Scriptures and will welcome suggestions which have particular meaning for the family or the deceased.
Hymns — Hymns should be chosen which affirm the grace and goodness of God, and which give comfort and support to those who grieve. The pastor and/or the Director of Music will guide the selection of appropriate hymns and additional music.
Flowers — In consultation with the family, the presiding pastor will determine the appropriateness and arrangement of flowers in Delivery of floral arrangements should be scheduled and confirmed in advance.
Fraternal, civic, or military rites — The funeral or memorial service at the church should be considered complete in itself, and any additional fraternal, civic, or military rites should be conducted separately (Directory for Worship W-4.10005).
The church is honored to be able to provide a simple reception following a memorial or funeral service. PCUM's Deacons, with appropriate notice, are able to supply coffee, arrange tables, etc., and be on hand to assist with serving. The church does not have the facilities or staff for private food service; thus luncheons and more elaborate receptions should be held at another location. If the reception is to be held in Fellowship Hall, the church requests that luncheons and more elaborate receptions be fully catered – from set up to clean up. In addition, the caterer must be approved in advance by the pastor. Alcohol may not be served on the church property.
The church has a lovely memorial garden on its property, and the cremains of members (or immediate family of members) may be interred there. There is a $100 fee to cover the cost of a bronze plaque, and to help with the cost of the garden and ground's annual maintenance. At a time convenient to the family, a service of committal is held, and ashes are poured into a designated spot in the garden. Records are maintained about the exact location of burials, but no urns or other containers or markers of any kind are allowed in the garden.
A Printed Order of Worship
The church will provide a printed order of worship for memorial or funeral services held at the church.
Times and Days of Services
The church will make every attempt to accommodate the needs of the family regarding the time and day of the service. However, many church activities are planned months in advance and cannot be changed. Saturdays and weekdays are typically most convenient to the church for funeral or memorial services, as are occasional weekday evenings. Sundays afternoons are available, as well.
The church is able to make audio recordings of the service, if a request for a recording is made known in advance. Video taping of the service is permitted, under the direction of the pastor, though the family will have to arrange for a videographer. Extra lighting or other camera equipment is not permitted. The church requests that the service be filmed from the balcony.
Honoraria and Fees
For church members (and their immediate family members), there is no fee for the use of their church's facilities. Likewise, for members (and their immediate family members), there are no fees for the services of pastor. Fees for the church organist and custodian will be communicated to the family by the pastor(s). Fees for soloists or instrumentalists vary depending on the individuals, and these fees are the responsibility of the family, either directly or through a professional funeral representative.