The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians’ attitudes and responses to the event of death. Death brings loss, sorrow, and grief. Yet, in the face of death, Christians affirm that our hope is in Christ Jesus, who overcame death so that we might have perfect fellowship with God. Memorial services and funerals are more properly called a Service to the Witness of the Resurrection. It is a worship service in which we give glory to God and affirm the Christian belief that in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit God gives new life to the deceased and to us. Christ’s victory over death gives us comfort and strength.
Type of Service
There are three types of services:
- Funeral Service: A funeral service is generally held within days of death. A closed casket or urn may be present. The service is generally held at Winter Park Presbyterian Church, in the chapel or the sanctuary.
- Memorial Service: A memorial service can be held days or weeks after death. No casket or urn will be present. The service is generally held at Winter Park Presbyterian Church, in either the chapel or the sanctuary.
- Committal Service: Family and friends of the one who has died gather at the graveside or crematorium for a service of farewell, which is to be conducted with simplicity, dignity, and brevity. The service includes readings from scripture, prayers, words of committal, and a blessing. The service acknowledges the reality of death, entrusts the one who has died to the care of God, and bears witness to faith in the resurrection from the dead. The committal may be held after the funeral service, or either before or after the memorial service. (W-4.10006.)
Setting of the Service
The service on the occasion of death ordinarily should be held in the usual place of worship in order to join this service to the community’s continuing life and witness to the resurrection. When there are important reasons not to hold the service in the usual place of worship, it may be held in another suitable place such as a funeral home, a crematorium, or at graveside. (W-4.10003-5.)
Direction of the Service
The service shall be under the direction of the Senior Pastor of Winter Park Presbyterian Church. Pastors from churches other than Winter Park Presbyterian Church may assist in the service, at the invitation of the Senior Pastor of Winter Park Presbyterian Church. Family members and friends may be invited to participate as leaders in the service, at the discretion of the pastor. The Senior Pastor will preach the sermon. A request to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a part of a service on the occasion of death requires the approval of the Session. (W-4.10003.)
Order of the Service
The pastor will meet with family members or friends in order to make arrangements for the service of worship. The service will conform to the guidelines prescribed in the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The order of worship for a funeral service or a memorial service will be the following:
- Prelude (Optional)
- Call to Worship
- Opening Prayer
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Hymn (Optional)
- Old Testament Reading(s)
- New Testament Reading(s)
- Tributes and Remembrances (Optional)
- Creed (Optional)
- Hymn (Optional)
- Pastoral Prayer and Commendation
- Postlude (Optional)
The order of worship for a committal service will be the following:
- Call to Worship
- Scripture Reading
- Prayer and Committal
Slight variations from this order of worship may be made, at the discretion of the Senior Pastor and in consultation with those family members or friends making arrangements for the service.
A musician for the service will be arranged through the Senior Pastor. By request, a soloist or special music can be arranged. It is appropriate for worshippers to sing hymns, psalms, spirituals, or spiritual songs that affirm God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of the saints (W-4.10004). The Senior Pastor must approve all music. Popular favorite songs of sentimental character or secular connotation are best reserved for the reception following the service.
In order that attention in the service be directed to God, when a casket is present it ordinarily is closed. It may be covered with a white pall, symbolizing our baptism and the joyful triumph over death brought about by the resurrection. (W-4.10005.)
Other Elements of the Service
The service may include other actions common to the community of faith and its cultures when these actions do not detract from or diminish the Christian understanding of death and resurrection. The service shall be complete in itself, and any fraternal, civic, or military rites should be conducted separately. (W-4.10005.)
The Executive Assistant can provide names of florists who are familiar with the church.
Those planning the worship service may choose to host a reception following the service. Schedule permitting, Winter Park Presbyterian Church can provide space for a reception with light fare and refreshments. All arrangements should be discussed with the Executive Assistant.
Fees for services and receptions are available from the Executive Assistant.
Old Testament Readings:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 NRSV)
“But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:1–2, 18–19 NRSV)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalms 46:1–3, 10–11 NRSV)
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.” (Psalms 130:1–2, 5–7 NRSV)
Isaiah 61:1–4, 10–11
Lamentations 3:19–26, 31–32
Joel 2:12–13, 23–24, 26–29
Psalm 27:1, 4–9a, 13–14
Psalm 39:4–5, 12
Psalm 46:1–5, 10–11
Psalm 90:1–10, 12
Psalm 116:1–9, 15
New Testament Readings:
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8:31–32, 37–39 NRSV)
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:20–22, 42–44, 53–57 NRSV)
“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–5:1 NRSV)
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4–9 NRSV)
Luke 23:33, 39–43
1 Corinthians 15:20–26, 35–38, 42–44, 53–58
2 Corinthians 4:16–5:1
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18
Revelation 21:1–4, 22–25, 22:3–5
The Executive Assistant can provide a list of hymns appropriate for the service.