First Congregational Church of Falmouth, MA
of the United Church of Christ

During July & August Sunday morning worship begins at 9:00 AM

68 Main Street, Falmouth, MA 02540 | Sunday Morning Worship 10:00 AM
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Funerals


WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES...


PLANNING A MEMORIAL OR FUNERAL SERVICE 

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When a loved one dies, a family is suddenly confronted with a multitude of decisions which must be made quickly and with care. Many of these decisions relate to the planning of a Christian service of worship to mark the passing of the deceased.  To help families with some of these decisions, we offer the information on this web page.  Some may wish to discuss the contents of this page with their families well in advance.  Others may refer to this page after the death of a loved one, and prior to meeting with one of our church's Ministers to discuss service arrangements.

In their time of grief, some families will prefer to have our Minister select the hymns and scriptures for their loved one's service. Others will prefer to make a few, or all, of their own selections.  For the latter, we have included on this website, a basic worship order and lists of some suitable hymns and scripture passages.

Please contact our Office to obtain a copy of our Funeral Booklet, including the Worship Order, Hymns, and Scripture.  Or you can download a PDF here.

In all such planning, it should be recognized that there is no single "right" way to conduct a meaningful funeral or memorial service.  Circumstances, customs, and personal preferences can vary widely.  In our view, such services should be planned to reflect the special needs and interests of individuals and their families.

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PURPOSES OF A CHRISTIAN SERVICE 
The Christian faith triumphantly proclaims the victorious passage from bitter death to eternal life in God's keeping.  It also bears witness to the redemptive love of God which stands with us, and cries with us, when we, who are left behind, must face the painful partings and tragedies of this earthly life.  Through appropriate Biblical passages, prayers, and hymns, a Christian Funeral or Memorial service should help grieving families and friends get in touch with these vital truths of our faith and derive hope and comfort from them.

Thanksgiving is another important aspect of a Christian service: Thanksgiving to God for the earthly life of the deceased, and thanksgiving for all that person has meant over the years to beloved family and friends.  Christianity teaches that individual persons are both unique and precious to God.  As such, in death as in life, it is important that we honor them, and bear witness to our thankfulness for them.

Also, the service should help a family commend their loved one into God's keeping.  It should help them find a sense of peace, as they shift their focus from the earthly to the eternal spiritual identity of their loved one.

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SCHEDULING 
Following a death, the funeral home will contact one of our ministers on behalf of the grieving family to set the date, time, and location of the service. Usually this is done as soon as possible, to meet newspaper and other deadlines. For services held in our Church, we will, upon request by the family, secure our Church Organist. Following this initial contact, our minister will consult with the family to minister to their needs at this difficult time, including planning the service. If the primary funeral service occurs out of the area, it is usually the family which contacts us directly to arrange for a later memorial service in our Church.

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USE OF OUR CHURCH 
Please know that our parishioners and their families are certainly welcome to have their services conducted in our Church.  Services of all sizes are held in the sanctuary.  Grieving families tend to underestimate the number of people who will attend a public service to demonstrate support and "pay respects."

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ALTERNATE and GUEST CLERGY 
At times when our Senior Minister and Associate Minister are unavailable, our Church will provide the names of alternate clergy, authorized to conduct funeral and memorial services on behalf of, and in, our Church.  For services not held in our Church, the funeral home can provide the names of additional clergy.  If requested by the family, other clergy are welcome to assist our ministers, or their alternates, in conducting the service.  When other clergy have known the deceased well, we are quite willing to have them present the more personal "Remembrance" portion of the service.

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HONORARIA 
As part of its ministry to grieving families, our Church provides the use of its sanctuary without charge.

CLERGY: It is the usual practice in our community to provide an honorarium to clergy for special services rendered in conducting funeral, memorial or committal services.
CHURCH ORGANIST: There is a set honorarium for the professional services of our Organist.
SOLOIST: Honorarium arrangements are made on an individual basis between the family and the soloist.
CHURCH SEXTON: In some instances, an honorarium may be required for the services of our Sexton, when a funeral or memorial service is held in our Church.

More information on these items is available from our local funeral home and/or from our Church Office.

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TYPES OF SERVICES 
A FUNERAL SERVICE takes place with the embalmed or cremated remains of the deceased present.  Such services are usually held at our church, at the grave, or at the funeral home.  When the service is conducted in our Church, it is requested that caskets remain closed.

A MEMORIAL SERVICE takes place when the remains of the deceased are not present.  Such services are almost always held at our Church.  Except for providing a guest registry, funeral home involvement is not usually required at these services.

A COMMITTAL SERVICE takes place in conjunction with the interment of the embalmed or created remains of the deceased. This brief service may be combined with either of the above services, or held at a time and place totally separate from them.

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OPTIONS FOR SCHEDULING 
LOCAL FUNERAL SERVICE- The service is conducted locally, immediately after which the remains are taken to a local cemetery where either a public or private Committal Service is conducted.

LOCAL MEMORIAL SERVICE- The service is generally conducted in our Church.  A Committal Service is held at a different time- generally private and on a day before the Memorial Service.

Some Memorial Services in our Church are preceded by complete funeral services for the deceased held elsewhere, particularly out-of-state.

NON-LOCAL SERVICES- We regret that due to time restrictions, our clergy are not usually able to conduct services off-Cape. When an off-Cape interment is required in conjunction with a local service, the funeral home will arrange for an on-site clergy person to conduct an appropriate Committal Service.  In such cases, the words of Committal can also be included in the local service- to provide a sense of "completeness" for those not attending the interment.

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AFTER-SERVICE GATHERING 
Our Church's Reception Committee will be pleased to host a reception in our Church's Fellowship Hall, following any memorial or funeral service held in our Church. The only cost is that a family may be asked to defray food and paper supply expenses.  Our Women's Union will, if requested, host this same after-service gathering for families of its deceased members.

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SOLOIST 
Our Church Office can provide a list of soloists, when one is desired for a funeral or memorial service held in our Church.  All musical selections are subject to approval by our Senior Minister or Associate Minister.

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REMEMBRANCES 
This portion of the service is often better when it seeks to be suggestive, rather than exhaustive, in commemorating and giving thanks for the life of the deceased.  Here are several ways to add a more personal note to the service.  A single item can be used, or several approaches can be combined.

A special poem(s) read in honor of the deceased (an assortment of poems is available upon request)
Statements of remembrance presented by family or friends- or read by the Minister on their behalf
Eulogy by the Minister, developed from information provided by the family
An open invitation to the congregation for impromptu statements of remembrance
A moment of individual reflection, in silence or as the organist softly plays one or two stanzas of special music
Excerpts from family letters written by, or to, the deceased
Excerpts from "sympathy" letters received following the death
Biographical information, such as might be contained in an obituary

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MEMORIAL GIFTS 
Special gifts to the Church in memory of loved ones may be made to:

"THE MEMORIAL FUND"- Donations to this Fund are used to finance special items or projects to benefit the Church.  At an appropriate time, family preferences will be sought in determining the expenditure of Memorial Fund contributions received in memory of their loved one.  The Church can provide a "wish list" of needs.

"THE PERMANENT ENDOWMENT FUND"- The interest from this Fund provides support for the Church's annual budget.  The principle of this fund is preserved in a highly restricted account, as mandated by our Church By-laws, to insure the fund's permanence.

Other Church Funds- gifts in memory of loved ones may be made to any established fund in the Church.

All gifts to our church in memory of loved ones will be acknowledged.  Donors will receive cards of thanks from the Church. Families will be given a list of all donors and the total amount received.  Individual gift amounts will not be disclosed.

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PRE-PLANNING 
We will keep a special file in our Church Office for any who might wish to have their personal preferences recorded. A word of caution: pre-planning should not be so inflexible that it puts an undue burden on the surviving family, particularly as unforeseen circumstances can arise at the time when death actually occurs.  It is better to leave one's family with a sense of direction and personal preferences than with rigid mandates.

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Love  like the ocean is vast and forever,
and sorrow but a shadow that moves over the sea.
May the forever of Love, soon bear the grief of this hour away from your hearts.