Planning a Funeral or Memorial Service at Grace

Funerals are one of those life events that that can evoke a fear response in us which may cause us to delay planning for a friend’s or relative’s funeral, or an incomplete plan for or own. Either way, this leads the necessity of some other person picking up where you had leftoff, which may, in turn, lead to some hard feelings by the person who has to pick up the pieces, often at short notice.


This page is designed to help someone tasked with planning a Funeral Service to do so in an informed, timely and complete manner. As you browse through this page, you will first encounter an informative section that describes all of the components of a funeral and where choices may be made, the first being your relationship to the subject of the funeral who may be yourself, a close relative or a friend.


What Funeral Services Exist in the Episcopal Church?

The Episcopal Church, of which Grace Church is one, offers five Pastoral Offices for ministration for the dying and the dead. If you own, or can borrow a Book of Common Prayer (BCP), these offices begin on page 453 with the Ministration to the Sick and ends with the Order for Burial, which begins on page 506.

Also note that there is an online version of the BCP. Navigate to

Outline of the five Pastoral Offices


Ministration to the Sick

This office, also known as Holy Unction, is part of the healing ministry of Grace Church. For those able to attend church services there is a brief ministration once per month at the church. For those not able to attend, it may be performed at home or hospital, by appointment.

There are three parts to the Ministry:
Part 1- Ministry of the Word
Part 2- Laying on of Hands and Anointing
Part 3- Holy Communion

The Ministration may consist of a single Part, or ant two or all three. The purpose and expectation for the Ministration is that the condition of the patient improves. Click here for more information on the Ministration to the Sick.

Ministration at the Time of Death

After death it is customary to have a wake, which is mainly held at the Funeral Home for logistic reasons, but may be at Home or at the Church. Most often the Wake is a get- together of friends and relatives, but the Litany at the Time of Death (BCP p.462) and the Prayers for a Vigil (BCP p.465) may also be performed.

Though not common, the order for the Burial of the Dead may follow immediately after the Ministration. Should this be desired, the set of rubrics (BCP p. 468) should be followed. One rubric in particular should be followed, and that is that if the deceased is in a casket, the
casket should be closed and covered with a pall.


The Burial of the Dead: Rite One

This is one form of the actual funeral service and differs from Rite Two by the language. This can be illustrated by the first lines of the opening anthem:


Rite One: “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord;”
Rite Two: “I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord;”

If you don’t see a subtle change in meaning between the two, I would recommend Rite Two, but please remember that “The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meanings in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. (BCP, p. 507)

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