The funeral of a loved one acknowledges the closing of a human life on earth. A funeral service is an opportunity for family and friends to gather in a parish church or a crematorium to express their grief, to give thanks to God and celebrate the completed journey of an earthly life, and to commend the soul of the departed into God’s eternal keeping.
A funeral service conducted by a Church of England minister can be very short and quiet with only a few members of a family present, an occasion of great solemnity, with music or hymns. Or it can be a time of joyous thanksgiving with an overflowing church. Or anything in between.
Sometimes and with the approval of the clergy, a lay reader, a churchwarden or a mature member of Christ Church may take a funeral service if the family wishes them to.
Whatever the pattern of service, the words and actions all speak of a loving God and the preciousness to him of every human being.
The Choices You and Your Family Have
The person who has died may have left a paragraph in their Will, or a separate letter of wishes, describing the sort of funeral arrangements they hoped for. Naturally, the family will want to keep to such arrangements as far as possible. Not everyone knows that they have the right to a funeral in their parish church, even if they and the deceased person have not been church-goers. The Parish Church is the spiritual home of everyone who lives within the parish and we are very happy to arrange a funeral service for your loved one.
The Funeral Director plays a very important part in co-ordinating the funeral arrangements and will want to know if the funeral is to be in the church or if the parish clergy are to take the service in the crematorium, or both. They will help liaise with Christ Church, organising with the family a suitable date and time, and finding clergy who are able to take the funeral.
Parish clergy regard the taking of funerals as an important part of their work. Before a funeral a minister will visit the family, to offer comfort to those who are facing loss, to find out what service they want to use and to help them to arrange it. If the minister did not know the deceased person, then it would help to provide some details, especially if there is to be an address within the service.
Whether you expect few or many people to attend, Christ Church Chorleywood will seek to meet your needs. Every funeral service is different, just as every person is different. So, for example, if you have some pictures of your loved one, we can display them on a screen. We will do all we can to ensure the service runs smoothly.
With regard to music, we can usually provide an organist or a pianist. But you could also invite someone of your choosing and/or have music played via our PA system at the service.
The Parish Churchyard was closed for burials many years ago, but there are other cemeteries locally and the funeral directors will be able to give you more information about them. We do have a Garden of Remembrance within the Churchyard where it is possible to arrange to have a Burial of Ashes.
The Funeral Service
The service begins with the priest or other minister reading aloud such reassuring sentences from the scriptures as: ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord; Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’
Early in the service there may be a eulogy or appreciation remembering the life and work of the deceased. This may be given by a family member or somebody who knew the deceased well, but as funerals are emotional services, it may be better to leave this to the minister. Please discuss this with the minister officiating.
The address following the Bible reading and the subsequent prayers affirm the great Christian beliefs about life beyond death, which hopefully will be a comfort and strength to those gathered. It is possible to include within the service other non-biblical readings or poems.
The prayer of Commendation recalls the promise of the resurrection and entrusts the deceased person to the love and mercy of God, asking for comfort and strength for those who mourn.
The Committal is a particularly solemn moment of the funeral service. It takes place either at the graveside or, in the case of a cremation, in the crematorium chapel, or in church before the hearse leaves for the crematorium.
In a cemetery, the family will gather round the open grave into which the coffin is lowered and they will hear the words: “We now commit his/her body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Handfuls of earth may then be scattered on the coffin.
In a crematorium, the words of committal may be accompanied by closing a curtain to hide the coffin from view. In some crematoria the coffin is moved slowly out of sight. Or the curtains can be left open with the coffin in situ, so that family and friends can pay their last respects as they leave the chapel.
The committal can be a very emotional moment. Many who are suffering grief find that, even in their sadness, the words of prayer can lift them towards the experience of Christian rejoicing in the knowledge of life beyond death.
The offering of prayer and the trust that the person is in God’s safe hands can begin the process of healing the grief of loss.
Thanksgiving and Memorial Services
It is possible for you to have a private Funeral Service with Committal before gathering for a Thanksgiving or Memorial Service after this at the Parish Church, on the same day or on another occasion. The parish clergy are happy to discuss your Order of Service for this.
Using The Junction Facilities
If you would like to hold a wake or simple gathering after a funeral service, we may be able to help by allowing it to be held in one of the rooms in the parish centre, The Junction, which is attached to the church. We cannot provide catering or staff for this, but we can provide the details of a number of local caterers who are familiar with The Junction and may be able to help. We can also help with simple teas and coffees whilst mourners who have travelled to the service wait for it to begin if this is helpful.
Contacting the Church
If you would like Christ Church to conduct the funeral then you or your funeral director should get in touch with our office in the first instance. 01923 282149 or firstname.lastname@example.org.