Funeral Guidelines


 Guidelines for a Funeral Service at 
Bethesda Evangelical Lutheran Church 
The death of a baptized Christian, one who has lived in the communion of the church, is an occasion for thanksgiving and the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. ‚ÄúWhen the church gathers to mark the end of life, Christ is crucified and risen is the witness of worship, the strength of mutual consolation and the hope of healing‚ÄĚ (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, introduction to the Funeral liturgy, p. 666). Although a Christian funeral honestly confronts the harsh reality of life‚Äôs ending, it witnesses to our hope in a new life beginning, both for the deceased and for those who grieve.¬†
As with Lutheran Book of Worship, Evangelical Lutheran Worship suggests visual symbols and action to further the connection of the funeral with Baptism: 
A Pall is a large white cloth, sometimes marked with a cross, that completely covers the casket. This white cloth is reminiscent of the white garment given or worn in baptism. Moreover, the use of a pall treats every Christian exactly the same. In cremation, a white cloth can cover the urn in the same way a larger cloth covers a casket. 
Sprinkling is also a powerful sign and comforting gesture to sprinkle the coffin at the beginning of the funeral service as part of the Thanksgiving for Baptism. 
The Paschal Candle may be lit and placed in its stand near the head of the coffin. 
Holy Communion is one of the images we associate with baptism, because Holy Communion is that it is a meal for the communion of saints and a foretaste to come. 
Funeral and memorial services are a chance to celebrate the life of your loved one with the open and promise of resurrection unto the eternal life we have in Jesus Christ. Funerals also provide a time to grieve with others who have known and loved your loved one. 
Please inform the pastor immediately upon the death of your loved one, so that he/she may be there to comfort the grieving family and to ensure that he/she is involved in the funeral planning. It is common practice at Bethesda Evangelical Lutheran Church that funerals are 3-4 days after the death has occurred. If there is a cremation, a few weeks may pass before the funeral service. All funerals take place during the week or Saturday. Funerals never take place in the Lutheran Church on Sunday, because Sunday is reserved for the resurrection and worship of our Risen Lord. The family of the deceased, along with any funeral home that is involved, may decide on a preferred date and time for the funeral. However, this date and time must be approved by the pastor to ensure that there will be no conflicts with the organist, events, etc. 
The pastor will assist the family members in planning the service. Holy Communion may be included in the service. The pastor will guide the planning process, which also includes choosing the scripture and hymns to be used. Special music may be included upon consultation with the pastor and organist. A list of possible scriptures and hymns is available upon request. The pastor and organist will be glad to help in the selection of both scripture and hymns. 
Displaying pictures is a great way to remember the life of the deceased. Before and during the funeral, a single 8x10 or 11 x 27 photo may be placed on the altar near the body or the cremains. 
Out of respect for the family and friends, flash photography, camera noises, and moving photographers or videographers are not permitted. Video recording can be done from stationary locations from the back of the church. All aisles should be kept clear for ease of movement for those attending the funeral. Connecting a loved one by video phone, such as FaceTime is permitted. Any mobile device or laptop may be used, though power cords to these devises are not allowed because close outlets are not available. Testing should be done to ensure that the device is silenced and working properly. The church’s Wi-Fi can be used, and the password can be obtained from the office administrative assistant or the pastor. 
Flowers may be placed on the chancel steps and near the coffin or urn. No nails, screws, wire, or anything that may damage pews or walls, of any kind, may be used. The altar paraments and officiant’s stole will be chosen by the pastor or the season of the church year, or white. 
The church administrative assistant will produce a bulletin for use during the service. This bulletin will contain the order of service. It may also contain the pallbearer’s names, a short biography / obituary of the deceased, a meaningful poem or scripture, and a photo if provided in time. If the family wishes to have a special cover for the bulletin, then it must be provided by the family. This information should be sent to the church office administrator at 
Bethesda Evangelical Lutheran Church will provide the organist. If an unfamiliar piece of music is requested and has been approved by both the pastor and the organist, the sheet music must be provided to the organist. 
The officiating pastor and organist are paid on an honorarium basis either through the funeral home or directly to the pastor and organist. Checks should be made out to each individual, and payment to be made before or on the day of the funeral. Suggested honorarium amounts are: 
Pastor $200 
Organist $100 
Video Streamist $ 50 
Service Bulletin $ 30 
Bethesda Evangelical Lutheran Church will lovingly accept any memorials made to the church and will designate its use in accordance with the family’s wishes. 
Upon request of the family and consultation with the pastor, a funeral dinner can be held in the Fellowship Hall for those attending the service. The family will be responsible for the set-up, clean up, and preparation of the meal to be served, paper products, etc. The Fellowship Hall can accommodate approximately 60 guests. 
The funeral home will take care of transporting the casket or ashes to the church prior to the service. The pastor will coordinate with the funeral home in order to ensure the arrangements go smoothly. If desired, the church will provide a table to display a photograph of the deceased, a table to hold the urn, and memorial envelopes. All photographs, memorabilia and flowers must be removed from the church after the conclusion of the service.

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