The Burial of the Dead
"Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen." -The Book of Common Prayer, page 862
This section includes the teaching of the Episcopal Church about the Burial of the Dead and guidelines for funerals at The Episcopal Church of St. James the Less. We hope that it will provide hope and comfort to the bereaved and guidance to families as they make arrangements for the burial of a loved one from the Church. Please contact the Rector for further information.
In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, let us pray:
"Father of all, we pray to you for N., and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen." -The Book of Common Prayer, page 498
Burial in the Episcopal Church
The Book of Common Prayer provides the following directions for the Burial of the Dead in the Episcopal Church.
- The death of a member of the Church should be reported as soon as possible to, and arrangements for the funeral should be made with the Minister of the congregation.
- Baptized Christians are properly buried from the Church.
- The service should be held at a time when the congregation has opportunity to be present.
- The coffin, when present, is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter. It is appropriate that it be covered with a pall or other suitable covering.
- All services must conform to The Book of Common Prayer.
- Christian parents should make prudent provision for the well-being of their families and all persons should make wills, while they are in good health, arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, not neglecting, if they are able, to leave bequests for religious and charitable purposes.
"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 nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
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, page 507
Funerals at St. James the Less
The death of a loved one is an occasion of deep sorrow. It is also a time for the Church to offer comfort to the bereaved, and to assist family members in planning a service that will express thanksgiving for the departed, and witness to the assurance of eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ. The following practices will guide the arrangements for funerals at St. James the Less.
When a person is near death, the Rector or one of the associate clergy should be notified, in order that the ministrations of the Church may be provided. See the service Ministration at the Time of Death, page 462, in The Book of Common Prayer.
All funerals at St. James the Less are scheduled through the office of the Rector. Associate clergy share with the Rector in the ministration at the time of death and in the conduct of burial services. With the permission of the Rector, clergy of another Episcopal parish or another Christian church may assist at a funeral at St. James the Less.
All funerals at St. James the Less conform to The Book of Common Prayer. Scripture readings, prayers, hymns, and other music are selected in consultation with the clergy and/or the Music Director. A brief homily is always preached at a funeral. A brief address by a family member or friend may be included, with the permission of the Celebrant.
The Burial of the Dead may be celebrated according to Rite One (pages 469ff.) or Rite Two (pages 491 ff.). The service may include the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist. If preferred, the Committal of the body or cremated remains may take place at the cemetery or Memorial Garden before the service in the church.
The Memorial Garden at St. James the Less is available for the entombment of the cremated remains of members of the parish and their relatives. Contact the parish office for further information.
Flowers for funerals and other services are under the direction of the Altar Flower Guild of St. James the Less. Only floral arrangements that are consistent with those in use at regular Sunday services are permitted in the nave. All other flowers will be kept in the narthex. Floral arrangements are not permitted on the coffin during the service in the nave.
Families may plan for a reception to be held in the parish hall at St. James the Less. The Good Samaritans will prepare coffee and tea for receptions at the parish. All other arrangements for refreshments and hospitality should be made by the family, in accordance with parish policy.
It is fitting and proper for a Christian to plan her or his funeral in advance. The clergy of the parish are available to offer advice and direction in these matters, and the parish office maintains files of such plans and preferences.