Congregationalists believe in a spiritual life after death so, although funerals are a sad occasion for family and friends, there is thanksgiving for a person’s life and hope for their continued existence.
Congregational churches are independent, with each church making decisions about the form of its services. Funeral services vary according to the wishes of the family, who are helped by the Minister to make the event a personal and appropriate tribute to the life of the person who has died. Suitable secular readings and music will be allowed.
Congregationalists are inclusive and the Secretary (equivalent to the vicar) will be pleased to discuss officiating at the funeral, although you should have some knowledge of Congregationalist beliefs.
Services are held in the local Congregational church or at the crematorium. Should a longer service be requested, this can be held at the church before going on to the committal at the crematorium. To find a church near you, visit the Congregational church’s website.
Length of funeral and other 'rules'
Burial or cremation is the choice of the family.
A congregational funeral can also be green, carried out at a woodland burial ground, and using eco-friendly coffins.
Services in a church can last up to an hour, whereas services in a crematorium are limited to the time slot available. This is why it can be appropriate to organise the service at the church, followed by a short committal at the crematorium or church graveyard.
Memorial headstones are normally allowed within local authority guidelines.
The funeral director will give valuable advice based on experience of the community and the diverse range of funerals he or she has helped organise.
Things to discuss with your Church Secretary
- Who will do the readings?
- Are there any special readings you want?
- Are there special prayers you would like included?
- Are there special songs/hymns that you would like to suggest?
- How much are the church fees?
- Are there other fees, for example for the organist?
- Should you bring young children?
- What about a headstone to mark the grave?
- Are there rules about what memorials you can choose?
Order of Service
Services vary and can often be tailored to the wishes of the family. They normally include two hymns, a reading and prayers of thanks, as well as prayers for the committal at the crematorium or graveside.
Secular music, readings and other features
Secular music and readings are usually permitted. This is something you should discuss with the Church Secretary.
Should we have a gathering afterwards?
Yes, a good tea is the traditional reception following a Congregational church funeral.
Memorial services can usually be arranged - this is something to discuss with your local Church Secretary.
If you want a Congregational funeral, make this a funeral wish and ensure you discuss it with your close family members and your executor.