Philosophy and Policy of Christian Funerals

by FPC Leadership on September 6, 2013

When A Loved One Passes Away – A Helpful Check List

  • Contact the Minister of Pastoral Care at (601) 353-8316.
  • The Minister of Pastoral Care will assist in scheduling a funeral, the family visitation (should that be at the church) and a visit with the minister conducting the funeral.
  • The Church Staff will arrange for an organist, ushers, and service bulletins.
  • The funeral home, with assistance from the Church Staff, will be responsible for conducting a family visitation at the church. 
  • The Funeral Policies of First Presbyterian Church


Funeral Services and Family Visitations

At First Presbyterian Church a funeral is a worship service in which we give thanks to God for His providence in the life and death of our loved one, receive His comfort and rejoice in the sure hope that salvation brings the believer upon entering the fullness of eternal life. The church has the following funeral policy in order to help families plan for a service which honors God and serves the needs of the family and friends. Any exceptions to these policies need to be approved by the Worship Committee.

Scheduling a Funeral Service

  • Upon the death of a member of the church the family is requested to contact the Minister of Pastoral Care who will help guide them with the planning of the funeral.
  • The Minister of Pastoral Care will notify others of the church staff to make arrangements for music, ushers, and printed bulletins. 

Scheduling a Family Visitation

  • Family funeral visitations at First Presbyterian Church are conducted under the guidelines established by the Church Session. 
  • The funeral home chosen by the family is responsible to conduct the visitation in accord with the guidelines. The First Presbyterian minister overseeing the funeral is available to help with any particular questions concerning these arrangements. 
  • If there is to be a visitation time at the church, this is arranged through the minister overseeing the funeral arrangements. Ordinarily, this would be the Minister of Pastoral Care. 
  • The day and time for a visitation needs to be approved by the church before publicity of it is made. 
  • Ordinarily, visitations will be held in the Greeting courtyard which is just to the south of the sanctuary.
  • Because of worship service scheduling visitations are not held on Sundays.
  • For the same reason, it is also requested that visitations not be held on Wednesday evenings past 4:00 p.m. 
  • Weekly afternoon visitations should be scheduled in such a way as to avoid the heavy traffic flow connected with Presbyterian Day School Student dismissal, therefore a visitation should not be scheduled during the 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. hours during the school year. 
  • The visitation period needs to be completed fifteen minutes prior to the service 
  • to allow a time of prayer with the minister conducting the service. The funeral home is responsible to assist with this visitation conclusion. 

Arrangements for visitations with a large number of guests

  • In order to have a smooth flow of visitors for a large funeral, the funeral home representatives will direct guests for seating in the Sanctuary. From there they will direct guest to and through the Greeting Courtyard. 
  • It is suggested that the family not form a single receiving line. The funeral home representatives should assist them in positioning themselves around the room in smaller family units.
  • To assist with such visitations the funeral homes are requested to provide several guest books stationed at various places for the convenience of guests to sign. 
  • The Church will provide Interns to assist with directing guests to the Sanctuary for the visitation. 

Placement of the remains

  • If there is a casket present this may be placed in the Session Room for a visitation the day before a funeral and left through the night. However, on the day of the funeral it is to be placed in the sanctuary by the funeral home. 
  • The casket should remain closed except for a time of private family viewing as arranged with the funeral home. 
  • If there has been a cremation the remains may be placed in the Session room for both the visitation and the funeral service.
  • Because of difficulties connected with moving a casket in and out of the chapel, should the service be in the chapel, the casket will need to remain in the Session Room during the funeral service.

The Funeral or Memorial Service

  • Funeral services are conducted by Ministers of First Presbyterian Church. 
  • Eulogies and personal reflections by family members and friends are best not done at the
  • Funeral Service, but may be done as a part of the Burial Service at the cemetery. 
  • The church will provide ushers, service bulletins and an organist for the service.
  • The funeral home’s representatives are responsible to consult with the head usher to coordinate responsibilities. 
  • The funeral home is to see that adequate seating has been set aside for the family.
  • The funeral home is to see that the casket is in place in the sanctuary the day of the funeral and to move it out at the conclusion of the service. Other than this they are not responsible for any 
  • other part of the service. 
  • The funeral home is to see that all flowers have been removed from that church by the end of the day. 
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