A Guide for Memorial and Funeral Services
At the death of a loved one we often need ritual to help us with our loss. We are honored that you have chosen Union Congregational Church to help you with that process of letting go of the physical while holding tightly to the spiritual. We look forward to working with you to make this Witness to the Resurrection one of beauty and comfort for you and you family. Included in this booklet are policies and fees set by the Church for the conducting of funerals and memorial services.
Union Congregational Church is handicapped accessible and equipped with an elevator for those who require it.
The Meaning of Memorial and Funeral Services
Christians recognize with all people the inevitability of death, but in the presence of death we witness through our faith that God, in Jesus Christ, has conquered death and raises God’s children from death to eternal life.
A Christian funeral is a time of thanksgiving for the life lived, a time of mourning for the ending of earthly life, and a time of Christian witness to our God who is near and who promises us resurrection. We recognize that different cultures have differing tradition around death and burial, and try to honor those traditions within the service of worship
Planning the Service
As soon as the pastor hears of your request for a funeral/memorial service, she will contact you by phone to set up a meeting to hear from you what you need and desire to happen at the service. She will also offer suggestions. She will create the service, giving you an opportunity to review before the hour of worship.
When we gather at a time of death we do so to hear God’s words of assurance. Often family does not know what scripture to choose for a service. Our pastor is happy to offer suggestions. If you would like a reading in addition to a Biblical texts, you may do so with the consultation of the pastor.
Family and Friends Participation
It is appropriate for members of the family or friends to assist in the service. This may involve the use of musical talent, readings, or sharing of memories. We encourage members of the family to offer a eulogy. If this seems too difficult a task, something may be written for the pastor to read.
The Church organist or her substitute will play at all funerals and memorial services. At the pastor’s and the organist’s discretion, guest organists, soloists and other musicians may be invited to participate.
Music can be profoundly helpful in the time of grief. We have the Pilgrim and New Century Hymnals in our pews. Printed hymns may also be used. We are open to playing appropriate recorded music at your request. Our pastor reserves the right to approve all musical selections.
Open caskets are appropriate for the wake or calling hours to allow mourners to take in the finality of death. Caskets will be closed during funerals. While we grieve death, the funeral service is a celebration of the resurrection of the spirit. In a memorial service the casket or ashes are not present.
Flowers and other Memorials
Flowers are often used to symbolize the perpetuity of life even in the midst of death. Flower arrangements may be left at the church to be used on Sunday morning and then delivered to shut-ins. Please notify the church office if you wish to do this.
If you desire to not have all expressions of sympathy and respect in the form of flowers, and prefer to designate a memorial fund to which friends and family may give, the church is open to receiving such gifts in memory of your loved one. All financial gifts are recorded in our Book of Remembrance. Please have checks made out to: Union Congregational Church and sent to: 55 Rhoades Ave, E. Walpole, MA 02032 and designate the name of the deceased.
A brief committal service at the grave following the funeral is the customary next step in the process of saying good-bye. All mourners are encouraged to witness the burial as our natural cycle of life – from dust we came and to dust we will return. We return the body to the earth confident that our spirits are in the presence of God.
Should you desire a private burial, it may occur either before or after a memorial service.
Some prefer to have the entire service at the graveside. The pastor of this church may be retained for such service at the same fee as for funeral/memorial services conducted at the church.
Members Only: The Diaconate will be pleased to provide a collation for a donation. They will provide all the necessary paper products, beverages, and finger desserts and sandwiches. The committee will also set up and clean up after the collation. Checks should be made to Union Congregational Church and marked “collation.”
Funeral Fees and Honorariums
Church and Services
Pastor donation $225
Brief committal only donation $100
Church free $150
Organist $150 $175
Sexton $50 $100
Bulletins — $45
*If you have circumstances that will not permit you to pay the amount recommended, fees may be negotiated. Please speak to the pastor.
**This fee schedule has been distributed to local funeral directors who will collect and issue payment, however, we encourage you to pay the church directly. All checks should be made directly to the staff member.
The Aftermath of Death
Mourning is a unique process which is different for each person. The mourning process can often be lonely and isolating. It takes time to understand one’s emotions and to express one’s feelings to those around us. In the weeks following death, friends and family may comfort you by making their Christian love felt in simple ways of kindness and concern: a brief call, a note of sympathy, or a helpful act. Often these gestures are reaffirming, but they can also feel inadequate or even sometimes a burden.
Our church and especially our pastor is always here to speak with you and help you through your grief. We also encourage you to attend one of the many grief counseling groups in the area.