Funerals

Funerals. It is important to understand that many of the funeral and embalming practices that have become common currency among Americans at large are completely at odds with Christian teaching. For this reason, Episcopalians should call their priest before the funeral director is called (ideally, by the priest). It is also assumed that in requesting the services of a priest of the Episcopal Church, families accept the discipline and worship of the church in which the priest is ordained to serve.

In the Episcopal Church, a funeral is primarily an act of worship, and the Book of Common Prayer Book states that “baptized Christians are properly buried from the church” (i.e. not from funeral establishments). In addition the Book of Common Prayer unequivocally states, “The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter.” Photographs or paintings of the deceased are not allowed inside the worship area. Flower arrangements are allowed only in the places they are normally allowed for regular worship services.

The information above comes primarily from the Book of Common Prayer, especially the Catechism found on pages 845-862. Some of the information comes from the website of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, which has a wealth of information on the Episcopal Church and its beliefs, worship services and traditions at http://www.epicenter.org/the-episcopal-faith/.