Spring Valley Presbyterian Church
Policy – Witness to the Resurrection Services
As the church embraces us in our baptism and throughout our Christian life, so should it embrace us in our death and in our hope of resurrection to eternal life. It is meant to enhance our theological, pragmatic and personal preparations for death, and to assist our loved ones in that time. Christians recognize with all persons the inevitability of death. Because it is difficult under stress to plan or act wisely, the Christian family should make calm appraisals of intents and desires concerning appropriate service arrangements before death is imminent. To this end, it is recommended that each SVPC member complete the Spring Valley Presbyterian Church, Witness to the Resurrection Service Planning document, available from the church office.
IN THE EVENT OF DEATH
Those who are bereaved are not called upon to face death in isolation from other Christians. They can and should be sustained and upheld by the Christian community. When a death has occurred, the minister should be notified immediately, in order that he/she may help the bereaved in relating the reality of death to the sustaining reality of the Christian community and the hope to which it witnesses. The minister should also endeavor to immediately notify the appropriate deacon(s), so that they may assist the family as required. If the minister is not available, then one or more of the church staff or Elders should be called upon to serve until the minister arrives.
The pastor of the church should be second only to family to learn of the death of a church member. Our pastors also earnestly seek to know of those in our midst who are dying and need comfort or counsel. By being involved early in situations of recent or impending death, they can help immensely in the difficult transition decisions and funeral or memorial service arrangements. If outside ministers are to be involved in the service, the family should seek the guidance and approval of the SVPC senior pastor. There is no charge for the service of SVPC pastors for the members of the church. If, however, outside ministers are involved in the service, the family should compensate them appropriately for their time and expenses.
LOCATION OF SERVICES
The service should ordinarily be held in the sanctuary, the place set apart for the corporate worship of God. The minister and others who may be properly invited to participate shall be in sole charge of the service. The church building itself is the appropriate place for a Christian funeral service. Here is where we worship every Sunday. Here is where we baptize or children, celebrate marriage and gather at the Lord’s table. Here we are surrounded by symbols of the Christian faith. The church building provides concrete reminders that we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses” and supported both by the love and grace of God and the concern and compassion of the family of faith. There is no charge to members for the use of the sanctuary for funeral services.
1. There may be service at the church with the casket or urn present, followed by a brief graveside service.
2. Burial of the casket or urn may take place prior to the memorial service, which can then be held immediately following interment or at some other time.
3. The may be only a simple graveside service.
4. These services may be observed on any day. However, a request to observe such a service as part of the regular Sunday worship service or to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a part of the service on the occasion of death, will require the approval of the Session.
DISPOSITION OF THE BODY
Christian methods of disposition of the body are interment, cremation or donation for medical purposes. A casket or urn need not necessarily be present at the funeral or memorial service and a separate interment is an appropriate option.
THE FUNERAL AS A WORSHIP SERVICE
The service, which should be conducted with dignity and simplicity, is a witness to God’s love given to all people, a love that strengthens and supports even in the midst of grief. It is a witness to God’s promise in Jesus Christ, as attested by Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and to the sure and certain hope that Christ has gone to prepare a place for the Children of God. The Service of Witness to the Resurrection is a service of worship to glorify God and to console the living. Although thankfulness and honor are to be expressed to God for the life and witness of the deceased, the focus of worship is upon God.
PALL (Optional) (SVPC Pall not available at this time)
The proper object of the service is the worship of God and the consolation of the living. The casket, if it is present during the service, is ordinarily closed. The casket may be covered with a funeral pall. The pall may be in the form of flowers or a large cloth covering for the casket. It is symbolic of the fact that in Christ we are “clothed” in grace. In Christ we put off the old self and put on a new creation. In covering the casket, the pall symbolically expresses the Christian conviction that all persons are equal in the eyes of God. If the family chooses to use a cloth pall, the flowers on the casket will be removed when the casket enters the church and the cloth pall will cover the casket during the service. Following the benediction, as the casket is taken from the church, the flower pall will again be placed on the casket. Acceptable “palls” would be the American Flag for those who have served in the military or government office, or other coverings requested by the family and deemed appropriate by the minister.
The family of the deceased will be seated at the front of the sanctuary, on the right center aisle, facing the Chancel. Care should be taken to ensure that the immediate family, and especially the next of kin, be seated near the center aisle of the second pew and that an adequate number of pews are reserved to ensure that all members of the family shall be seated comfortably. Active pallbearers should be seated on the second and third pews to the left of the center aisle, facing the Chancel. Honorary pallbearers should be seated to the left of the center aisle, facing the Chancel, beginning with the forth pew and continuing back as required.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Emphasis should be placed upon the reading s of Scripture for the declaration of the Christian hope, and any further readings or music should be carefully scrutinized to ensure that they are consistent with the biblical affirmation of God’s power over death. As an expression of their common faith, it is appropriate that those assembled join in the singing of hymns which declare belief in the life everlasting. A sermon may be preached which likewise bears testimony to the one who has died and intersession made for the family members and other loved ones who grieve. 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. The service shall be complete in itself, and any fraternal, civic or military rites should be conducted separately.
A printed “Order of Worship” may be provided.
The service may include all or any combination of the following elements:
Scripture Readings: The scriptures are a rich resource for the funeral service. Passages which have special meaning to the family or which were special to the deceased may be chosen in consultation with the minister.
Hymns or Spiritual Songs: Hymns or Spiritual songs should be chosen which affirm the goodness and grace of God and which give comfort and support to the mourners. Musical selections should be reviewed by the Director of Music and/or the minister.
Music: The church organist or other organist may be contacted by the family. Other instrumentalists and/or vocalists may also be employed and should be contracted by the family of the deceased. Suitable sacred music should be used, as approved by the SVPC organist or an SVPC pastor. The family of the deceased is expected to cover the cost of any organist, instrumentalists, and/or vocalists. Honorarium amounts are suggested at the end of this policy.
Candles: The candles on the Communion Table should be lit prior to the service.
Sermon: A brief homily praising God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and for the promise of the resurrection for all Christians can be included in the service if the family so chooses. The homily can also offer words of thanksgiving for the particular gifts of the deceased.
If suitable to the family, a reception will be provided by the funeral committee in the atrium before or after the service. Punch and cookies will be served. The Funeral Committee should be notified if possible of the time and place for any meal which is to be catered or provided by an outside group, whether in the church or at the home of a family member.
Funeral services in which the ministers, and/or the Director of music, of Spring Valley Presbyterian Church are not involved, will require having a funeral coordinator, assigned by the church, to attend the funeral. This person will be available to answer questions and ensure the use of Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in keeping with this policy and any facilities use policies.
Organist/Pianist - $100
Soloist - $50
FEES FOR NON-MEMBERS
Additional fees associated to funeral services for non-members are covered in the Facility Use Policy of Spring Valley Presbyterian Church. Any and all fees may be waived or adjusted at the discretion of the Session or of the participating SVPC minister.