(approved by the church council January 2013)

Church funerals are corporate worship services. Everything about them should proclaim the joy and victory of Christ’s resurrection. Accordingly, the following policy has been established:


Presider: Except during times of pastoral absence or vacancy, the St. Mark’s Pastor will participate in all funeral or memorial services held at the church. Only pastors who are on the roster of the ELCA or one of our full communion partners may preside at worship at St. Mark’s.


The Order of Worship for funerals will be authorized by the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America as printed in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship or in one of the previously authorized worship books.

Music is to be sacred in nature and selected from the hymnal or music of the church.  A list of suggested hymns will be provided by the pastor. All music for the funeral must be approved by the Pastor. Live music is preferred. The organist of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church will be used for all funerals.  If the family choses to use recorded music, they must provide the CD and a person to operate the sound system.


Scripture: The pastor will provide a list of possible scripture readings that proclaim hope, comfort, and truth of God’s promises. Normally, one reading from both the Old and New Testaments is included, along with a reading from one of the Gospels. A psalm may be chosen as the Old Testament reading, or may be used between the Old and New Testament readings.


Decorations: The paraments will be in the color of the day or season. During the service Pascal candle will be lit and placed near the head of the coffin or cremains as a baptismal remembrance. Flowers may be arranged in the chancel area prior to the service. The family may set up a display with pictures or other remembrances in the fellowship hall or narthex.


Funeral Pall: The coffin is always closed prior to the service and remains closed throughout the service. The congregation will provide a funeral pall to be placed over the casket during the service, if desired. The pall recalls the white robe given in Baptism, the robe of Christ's righteousness. The pall further has democratizing value, for it prevents both the display of a costly casket and embarrassment at a simple one.


Holy Communion: The celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, shared in community around the familiar center of the table, is full of healing power for those who grieve. This sacrament is the gracious sign of the completion of baptism, the foretaste of the heavenly banquet, and the anticipation of all the faithful reunited before God and Christ, the Lamb of God.  Families are encouraged to include the Sacrament of Holy Communion as part of the funeral service.  All baptized Christians gathered for the service will be invited to the Table.  


Family Participants as readers, acolytes, and communion assistants in the liturgy are welcomed.  A brief time for family members to share memories may be included in the service, but must be approved in advance with the pastor. The funeral luncheon also provides an appropriate time for informal sharing.  

Other Organizations: Services by fraternal orders, lodges, veterans groups or other organizations are not appropriate at a Lutheran funeral service.  If they are held, they should be limited to the funeral home or graveside. Flags may be placed over the coffin at the graveside only, not in the sanctuary. Veterans services are appropriate after the committal is over.

Family Fellowship Meal: When available, the church will do everything possible to accommodate requests for a family fellowship meal following a funeral service.  The Women of St. Mark’s will prepare the meal.  Family members will be given contact information.

Memorials: Undesignated funds and funds designated for an established project at St. Mark’s will be received by the church as part of the Memorial Fund.  Funds designated for a project or ministry not previously established will be designated for such only with approval by the Congregation Council.

Pastoral Services to Members of Other Congregations: Sometimes pastors are asked to be involved at the funerals of people from other churches.  Our policy is that the responsibility and authority for pastoral acts or services rests with the pastor of the congregation where the deceased held membership.  If St. Mark’s pastor is asked to provide pastoral services for members of other congregations, she/he will contact the clergy of the church in which the person held membership before providing the service.  The pastor who performs a service for a member of another congregation is obligated to provide information regarding that pastoral act or service performed to the pastor of the congregation in which the person held membership.  If the request for pastoral service involves an individual who has had conflicts with his/her pastor or congregation, the immediate family will be urged to resolve the difficulty prior to receiving pastoral service.

Funerals for Non-members: Conducting funerals for people who have no connection with the church is a normal part of the ministerial obligation.  However, not all the parts of the service (i.e. references to baptism) may be appropriate.  By certain omissions and choices of alternate selections this service may be adapted for such funerals.


November 21, 2018




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