Witness to the Resurrection Memorial and Funeral Services

The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians’ attitudes toward death. Death brings loss, sorrow, and grief to all. In the face of death, Christians affirm the hope of the gospel with tears and joy. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit and the community of faith. The church offers a ministry of hope and love to all who grieve.

The pastors and Session of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church are committed to offering support and encouragement to families and friends in time of loss. Notification to the pastors or the church office will enable your church to respond in a number of ways. At the same time you contact a local funeral home about the death of your loved one, please notify one of our pastors as well.

A pastor is available to meet with the family at a convenient time and place to discuss suitable arrangements. A Service of Witness to the Resurrection is worship of God to give thanks for God’s gift of life through a loved one.

The service is called a Funeral if the body is present; otherwise it is a Memorial Service. It is under the direction of the pastor and usually begins with prayer, followed by reading from scriptures that affirm God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of saints. Following the opening prayer, aspects of the life of the one who died may be recalled briefly by a family member or friend. Hymns and music that affirm God’s power and our hope may be sung by those assembled or by musicians from the congregation’s ministry of music. A celebration of the Lord’s Supper may be included with the approval of Session. The service also includes an affirmation of faith, prayers of thanksgiving, and closes with a benediction and a congregational hymn. A bulletin for the order of service may be printed in consultation with the pastor and church office.

Clergy from other congregations may assist in the service at the invitation of the pastor. If fraternal or military rites are necessary, these will be conducted before the service begins. If there are to be rites of any kind at the interment, they should take place prior to the graveside service by the pastor.

In order that attention during a funeral service be directed to God, the casket is closed and may be covered with either a cloth drape (funeral pall) or a family floral offering. Floral arrangements may be made through a local florist. Special arrangements may also be made for an urn to be placed at the front of the sanctuary.

After the worship service, it is common for the family and sometimes for friends to gather at the graveside or columbarium for a brief, simple service of committal. Frequently families wish to greet their friends after the service. If the family wishes to have refreshments following the service at the church, they are welcome to make their own arrangements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it a custom to have a funeral in three days?

This custom is supposedly related to Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. However, little biblical evidence supports this custom. Funeral and memorial services may be held at any time that is convenient for the family and the pastor to gather, with the exception of Sundays, which are traditionally reserved for the Lord’s Day Service. Special arrangements will be made with the pastor.

What is a wake?

This event, which usually takes place the day before the service, is derived from a time when families and friends attended the deceased through the day and night until the time of the service. It became a time for visiting with grieving family members and friends. Today, families often make arrangements at a funeral home to receive friends, some of whom may be unable to attend the funeral or memorial service. At those times when a casket is present, it is called a “viewing.” In Protestantism, a wake, family hour, or viewing is not mandatory and is held at the discretion of the family.

Do I need casket bearers?

If you wish to have them, you may do so. This honor is usually bestowed on friends and family members. The bearers will enter the sanctuary walking behind the casket. At the conclusion of the service upon leaving the sanctuary, the casket will be handled by a funeral director and staff according to state law.

Should I bring young children to the service?

Most children will find it helpful to be included in the rituals following death because it is an important time in a family’s lifecycle. Parents, of course, should use their own discretion. While a child may not understand intellectually many of the words at a funeral or memorial service, the environment usually will leave a positive impression when interpreted later.

What kind of music may I have?

According to the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order, “Instrumental or vocal music may be used and worshippers may sing hymns, psalms, spirituals, or spiritual songs which affirm God’s power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of saints.” The pastor should be consulted for appropriate music to be used. Normally, the music for a funeral or memorial service will be sung by the congregation using the Glory to God hymnal in the pews.

Should I encourage people to make contributions in memory of my loved one? 

When a friend or loved one dies, family and friends may wish to honor the memory of the person by making a financial contribution to an organization whose mission was important to the person who died. It would be appropriate to encourage contributions to a charity of the family’s choice or to the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church Foundation. The family may thereafter designate such memorial gifts to the Foundation for a specific need of the church, if they so wish.

An Order of Service of Witness to the Resurrection

  • Prelude
  • Scriptural Sentences and Call to Worship
  • Congregational Hymn (optional)
  • Readings from Old Testament
  • Readings from New Testament
  • Reflections and Memories of a family member or friend
  • Sermon
  • Congregational Hymn
  • Prayers of Thanksgiving and The Lord’s Prayer
  • Congregational Hymn (optional)
  • Blessing and Dismissal
  • Postlude

For information about funeral-related fees, please contact the church office.
703-356-7200