The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship website is a good source for articles on funeral ministry, and the Conversation Project reminded us of Reverend Marc Nelesen’s post about his conversation with a congregate who had prepared for her funeral. Rev. Nelesen describes how the congregate went to great lengths to plan her funeral, and to communicate her preparedness to family, pastors and friends. In addition to decisions about the type of funeral service and burial, the congregate had spent considerable time choosing music and bible texts to be used at her service. But in the days that followed the congregate’ s death, her family could not find her funeral plan. Although the congregate had purchased a prearranged funeral, her decisions about Scripture selections and hymns were not included. As Rev. Nelesen put it: This woman had dialoged at length with her own death, and we only heard a part of the conversation.
Rev. Nelesen goes on to discuss how important it is for congregates to have discussions with family, friends, and clergy about end of life issues. Eventually, each individual will need to bring a trusted funeral director in the conversation to discuss funeral and burial options. But Rev. Nelesen acknowledges that congregates, and funeral directors, may be hesitant to discuss recommendations about Scripture texts and hymns. This is an area where clergy have an opportunity to become more proactive, and develop their own funeral ministry. Rev. Nelesen then offers a prearrangement form that could be maintained in the preneed file at the funeral home, where the funeral director and the family could be directed to a more detailed funeral plan at the church. As Rev. Nelesen suggests, the funeral plan recorded with the church might be revised several times as the congregate includes family and friends into the end of life discussion.
Rev. Nelesen’s article led us to search the internet for churches that have developed funeral planning guides. What we found were primarily intended for the surviving family members who were left to plan a service. We did a find a few that were intended for preplanning, but most have lacked information about funeral and burial options. Accordingly, we borrowed from a handful of the funeral planning guides to come up with this generic document.