Funeral Policy of the New Hempstead Presbyterian Church

Adopted June, 2013

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 to all. In the face of death Christians affirm with tears and joy the hope of the gospel. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Spirit and the community of faith. The church offers a ministry of love and hope to all who grieve. (W-6.3006)

These words from our Presbyterian Church, USA, Book of Order, remind us that what our culture calls a “funeral” is in the Reformed Christian tradition more appropriately called “A service of Witness to the Resurrection.” If the service is to be held on the property of New Hempstead Presbyterian Church, it shall be under the jurisdiction of the Session of New Hempstead Presbyterian Church. Because the pastor (Teaching Elder) of the congregation is trained in Reformed Theology and Reformed Liturgical practice, s/he shall work with the family of the deceased to ensure that our Reformed tradition in upheld. S/He shall be responsible for the order of service, in consultation with the family.

The following guideline from the PC, USA Book of Order shall be followed:

Care shall be taken by the pastor to ensure that any remembrances of the deceased bear witness to his or her Christian faith.The service begins with scriptural sentences. It is appropriate for worshipers to sing hymns, psalms, spirituals, or spiritual songs which affirm God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of the saints. Scripture shall be read; a sermon or other exposition of the Word may be proclaimed; an affirmation of faith may be made by the people. Aspects of the life of the one who has died may be recalled. Prayers shall be offered, giving thanks to God

  • for the gift of the life of the one who has died,
  • for the comfort of the Holy Spirit,
  • for the community of faith;
  • making intercessions
  • for family members and loved ones who grieve,
  • for those who minister to and support the bereaved,
  • for all who suffer loss;
  • lifting supplications
  • for faith and grace for all who are present;
  • concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.

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. (W-4.10004)

The Church Musician shall be offered the opportunity to play and lead all music for the service. (Contact the Church musician). The following rule from the American Guild of Organists’ Code of Ethics shall be upheld:

No member shall accept a performing engagement in any institution unless such an engagement has been approved by the incumbent musician. In cases where such a performing engagements, for a wedding, funeral or other service, has been requested by a third party, it is appropriate for the third party to offer the incumbent the customary fee as a professional courtesy.

Music appropriate to a service of worship shall be performed. The hymnal found in the pews is The Presbyterian Hymnal, 1990. If music from another hymnal is to be photocopied, it is the responsibility of the family to secure copyright permission. A list of other appropriate music is available upon request from the organist, Ms. Lois Anderson.

If guest musicians are to perform, the family shall be responsible for their fees. Music shall be chosen in consultation with the pastor and organist.

No other rites will be performed at New Hempstead Presbyterian Church. Most funeral homes will accommodate such rites.

If the casket is to be present, it should ordinarily remain closed. No Church furnishings (ie: baptismal font, communion table, pulpit) are to be moved: these are the primary symbols of our Reformed Christian faith. Note that the sanctuary has a very narrow central aisle. It may be easier to have a burial and graveside service BEFORE the Service of Witness to the Resurrection.

The family shall ensure that all flowers and mementos are removed from the sanctuary after the service, unless prior arrangements have been made with the Church to donate some flowers for the following Sunday worship service.