Smyrna First United Methodist Church
Christians recognize the inevitability of death, and the Christian gospel powerfully addresses the reality and experience of death. Christians are expected to affirm their confidence in Christ’s victory over death and the grave and to proclaim that death cannot separate human beings from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. Such is the faith by which Christians live and in which Christians die.
The belief of Christians in the resurrection from the dead is not a belief, which denies the reality of death or suggests that persons have within them some form of immortality. Rather, it is a belief that God’s love and power are greater than the power of death, so that though we die and cease to exist, we are given new life, a new existence in God’s eternity. All this, Christians affirm because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on the first day of the week.
The Christian community has special responsibilities toward persons who are dying and toward those who are bereaved. Persons who are confronted with imminent death should not be isolated from the Christian community nor should members of the community try to convince them that they are not dying. Instead they should be supported with love, and affirmed as persons loved and forgiven by God.
The pastors at Smyrna First realize that the funeral is a cultural event as well as a religious event. Consequently every effort is made to be sensitive to the customs regarding death and burial of the dead which are characteristic of each particular community and honor those customs whenever possible. The Smyrna First pastoral staff will work creatively with funeral directors to ensure that there is adequate understanding of the funeral with respect to our own church theological understanding and practice.
Even for Christians, the death of a loved one is a difficult experience. We grieve the loss of one who has been close, but we do not sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4: 13). It is our desire and privilege to minister to the families of our congregation in their time of need. It is particularly through the private and public ministry of the Word of God that we have hope at the time of the death of a loved one (Romans 15: 4). This policy is provided to assist our families in planning and providing a Christian funeral.
The general guidelines for funerals are contained in the rubrics of the United Methodist Church as found in the United Methodist Hymnal and the Book of Worship. These determine areas where the policy of Smyrna First United Methodist Church is silent. Decisions concerning areas outside the scope of this funeral policy and the rubrics of the United Methodist Church shall be decided at the discretion of the senior pastor. Only the liturgy and rites of the United Methodist Church as defined in the current United Methodist Hymnal and the Book of Worship may be used in the sanctuary. Fraternal rites may not be held inside the sanctuary of Smyrna First United Methodist Church.
The Christian funeral service is understood as a service of worship and should be approached as such. Thought should be given to the designing of the service, and it is expected that those present will participate in corporate worship. The singing of hymns, reading of scripture, preaching of gospel, confession of sin, affirmation of faith, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper are all appropriate to the Christian funeral service. In designing such a service, the family should be consulted and their desires should influence the shape and design of the service. It is strongly recommended that Christian funerals be conducted at the church.
It is not necessary to have the body of the deceased present for the service for worship, which is occasioned by death. Services of worship with the body being absent are recognized as appropriate and equally meaningful as when a casket is present. Such a service may be scheduled before or after the committal service, if the body is to be interred.
The committal service should be performed with dignity and simplicity. It is to be brief, with scripture, prayer and a statement of the Christian hope. The church is encouraged to support the wishes of the family of the bereaved with respect to memorial gifts in lieu of or in addition to flowers.
Please call the church office and ask for the pastor of congregational care. He will endeavor to visit with you as soon as possible and be ready to comfort and assist you in any way possible. In the event of terminal illness, this visit or meeting may take place ahead of the actual death.
The senior pastor must approve all funeral arrangements at Smyrna First. Any of our pastoral staff can work with you in helping print up obituaries to be used in the church service, choose music, and design services in a timely manner.
Place of Service
We desire to make the sanctuary or chapel available for the funeral services of our members and their families. If you desire, the service can also be conducted at the funeral home.
Upon notification of a death the church secretary should notify the following people
· The Office Manager
The senior pastor or pastor of congregational care
· The chair of the Altar Guild (if funeral will be in sanctuary)
· The choir director/organist
· The head usher (if funeral will be in sanctuary)
· The sound technician
· The church hostess will insure that the church is properly heated or cooled for the funeral service.
Date and Time of Service(s)
Every effort will be made to accommodate your desires, but certain appointments may be difficult to re-arrange. Sometimes the burial service may take place at a different time of day from the funeral or memorial service.
Upon request the Memorial Meal Committee will provide a meal for the family of a Smyrna First church member’s family following the funeral or the graveside service. This meal can be served at the church. Please contact the office manager for arrangements.
Visitation: People attending funeral or memorial services desire to express their love and comfort to family members. This can be done the evening prior to the worship service and one hour before the day of the funeral.
Funeral Home We are used to working with most of the Funeral Homes in the area and can help to answer questions you might have.
Taping of the Service Funeral services are not normally taped. Please speak to the Office Manager if you desire a tape and we will help to make arrangements. The time and date of the service often affects the availability of a sound technician.
Only music appropriate to a worship service shall be used. Our music director will help you arrange music for your services through our music department. We will make every effort to help you, but please remember that time and date may affect the availability of our musicians. As with weddings, a funeral is a service of Christian worship. Therefore, sacred or Christian music would be appropriate. Taped instrumental and accompaniment music, soloists and solos, anthems, and guest musicians must have the approval of the Director of Music. The use of congregational hymns is encouraged and may be selected with the Music director in consultation with the family during the service planning process. The funeral service from the Order of Worship found in The United Methodist Hymnal or from a printed bulletin may also be used.
Flowers and Paraments
Appropriate liturgical colors for funerals and memorial services are white, purple, and red. Fresh candles may be used, but must be paid for by the family. The cross must remain on the altar. Collection plates and the flower pedestals will be removed from the Sanctuary. It is suggested that the casket be closed prior to the beginning of the worship service. Four floral arrangements may be used. It is preferred that only fresh flowers in the altar vases be used. A pall, a spray of flowers, or an American flag, when appropriate, may drape the casket.
Personal Information Forms
The church office is asked to provide the office manager with the name of the funeral home, times of visitation and worship service, place of funeral, and any other information that will enable Smyrna First to be as helpful as possible in this difficult time.