St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
“Series on Death and Dying: #6”
Coordinated and Led by Rev. Deacon George Snyder
Sunday, October 19, 2003
George led off discussion by noting that he had some relatives of his who were buried with funeral services that were either too short or too long and not overly meaningful. The Episcopal service, however, is very beautiful he is most pleased with their content.
Mike then led the group the funeral and burial liturgies as found in the Prayer Book. He noted that there are a number of special services for children, removal of life-sustaining equipment, etc. The funeral service is held for the sake of the family and community and is not meant to be a private service. The service typically may have Eucharist, although families who are not comfortable having communion, may choose not to include it in the service. If the body is at the service, there may be various symbols present such as the cross or Pascal candle. The greeting welcomes people to church. It is usually helpful to have most of the service liturgy printed in a bulletin. Prayers may be specialized. Mike keeps a list of recommended readings to assist families with appropriate selections. A eulogy may be presented before the homily. It is the custom at St. Mark’s to check with the reader just before the service to see if they still wish to eulogize. The homily is normally presented next followed by the Apostles Creed, which has closer ties to baptism than the Nicene Creed. White is also a significant color that if often worn. If there is no communion, the Lord’s Prayer is said next followed by Prayers of the People. If Eucharist is chosen to be included, the Peace and Offertory (table preparation) follow in order. After communion, special prayers may be said. The body or the cremanes may be present it may be simply a memorial service. Various service options may follow. If no body is present, the service ends with the blessing and dismissal. A committal may take place if the body is to be buried at the church. One example of this is a columbarium that is simply a wall with slots designed to hold cremanes. Otherwise, the commendation takes place. Once again, the two-fold meaning is expressed: the sorrow of the loss and the hope for life everlasting. This is followed by the blessing and dismissal.
Mike reiterated the various options that must be selected. These include: with or without Eucharist, scriptural readings, music, and other special items such as eulogies, etc. Group discussion ensued. It was noted that it is possible to insert other readings and literature into the service. There can also be provisions for non-Christian religious considerations. Relatives may also be elected to read some of the lessons. Visitations may also be accommodated at the church but space in the sanctuary is rather limited. Christ Church, Dayton has a separate chapel that they use for these purposes. Questions were raised about remunerations for the priest. Mike noted that it is the traditions in the Episcopal Church to turn over all donations to the local parish. This includes fees set aside by funeral homes for this purpose. The actual burial of the body may take place before, immediately afterwards, or even on another day.
The committal service opens with an anthem and prayer. The blessing follows. Familiar words are often used such as “ashes to ashes and dust to dust”. Optional prayers at the gravesite are also available. A reception afterwards for those present may follow. Finally, George asked everyone if they were coming along OK filling out the death planning booklet and if there were any additions that anyone recommended. It was commented that St. Mark’s was fortunate to have this as a reference document for its parishioners. Mike also discussed the section of the Prayer Book, which contains prayers to be uses at the time of death or prayers which can be used with families at funeral homes, etc.
George thanked Mike for leading us through the liturgy and once again reiterated how beautiful and well-worded the Prayer Book’s liturgies are.