Funeral and Burial Guidelines

About these Guidelines:

These guidelines are prepared to clarify how funerals are conducted within our Parish. If you are reading this for the first time during a time of loss, please accept our sympathy and promise to do all that we can to help you in the love and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Checklist for Those Requesting a Funeral

Decisions should be made about the following:

Whether to be cremated;

In the case of cremation, whether to have the funeral before or after the cremation;

Where the funeral is to take place;

Where the burial is to take place;

Which cemetery is to be used for the burial;

What kind of plot should be bought;

The day and Time of the Funeral;

The day and Time of the Burial;

Whether to have prayers in the home;

Whether to have a vigil service;

Whether to have a visitation in a funeral home;

Which Prayer Book is to be used for the funeral;

Which service is to be used at the funeral;

Whether to have a Eucharist;

What readings are preferred for the funeral;

Whether there should be music at the funeral;

What Hymns and music should be chosen;

Whether to have flowers in the Church;

What liturgical colour should be used at the service;

Whether any other group is to be present or partake before or after the service;

Whether to give a memorial gift to the Church;

Which tombstone is to be chosen;

What inscription is to be used.

Whether to have memorial flowers on the anniversary of death.


The Rector’s ministry is to lead the bereaved into and through the rites of the Church where the voice of the Gospel can be heard with healing power and clarity. As a people of faith, we know that the pain and loss of death must not be minimized or ignored. Our goal, as congregations who care is to help you hold your grief and faith in balance. The bereaved need to confront and accept the loss of the deceased as well as be given hope. Our Church promises to do our best to support you – not only at the time of the funeral, but also as you and your loved ones who sorrow, return to the duties of your lives.


The Christian funeral is a service of worship and should involve all those present. The funeral serves a support function such that the religious, social, and emotional needs of the mourners are met. In the Parish of Christ Church, Rawdon all funerals conducted by clergy should preferably be in the Parish Church. Our Clergy, or a Licensed Diocesan Lay Readers, must preside at the interment of any body in our cemeteries.

Cremation is becoming more common today. The ashes are the body of the deceased in a changed form. We honour them as we honour the body. 

A funeral can be held with the body present before cremation or with the cremated      remains in an urn on a table near the chancel steps.

They should be reverently buried in consecrated ground, as soon after cremation as possible.

The scattering of ashes is not an option in our liturgies, and if a family decides not to bury cremated remains in consecrated ground the Priest is not required or expected to be present.

Cremated remains may be buried in an existing grave with the consent of the family concerned and in accordance with the guidelines of our cemetery committees. 


A Christian Funeral is a time when we pause before the mystery of death and life. Funerals are an expression of faith in our salvation, resurrection and eternal life. As such, we come to worship God and rejoice in the new life he has given us beyond death. We also gather to thank God for the gift given to us in the person of the deceased. Funerals also express the community support that is shown at a time of death as we pray, sing, laugh and cry together.


Our funerals are usually held in the Parish Churches, the place where practicing Christians have centred their lives of worship. In our Parish we offer families the choice of a funeral service from the Book of Alternative Services or The Book of Common Prayer. In this setting, congregational singing and participation in the prayers are encouraged.


1.             Eulogies and Tributes: Eulogies have never been a formal part of Anglican worship tradition. It is hoped that expressions of tribute praise and love have been given to a person before they have died. Funerals are not to be an expression of praise of the deceased, but of how God has worked in and through the person who has died. If a eulogy is to be delivered, the eulogy should be given to the Rector or officiating Priest or Lay Readers a day before the service. A Eulogy should reflect the essence of the individual and not be a list of biographical facts.

2.         The Reading of Messages: The reading of messages in Church is often an artificial expression of concern. A message is no more important than any sympathy card or other expression of concern that the bereaved may receive. To read messages at the funeral service is to state that these are the most important. This belittles all other expressions of sympathy. Messages of sympathy, story telling, secular readings and songs, being an important aspect in the expression of grief, it is appropriate they be shared at the funeral home or in a social setting following the service.


Such groups, upon the consent of the Rector and following the guidelines outlined by our Parish are welcome to take their place in the celebration of the life of the deceased person: The services of lodges and other organizations will not be confused or combined with the burial office and committal. Such rites will take place before or after the service in the Church.


Because of the emotional stress involved, the occasion of a funeral is not the time to press for changes in accepted Parish practices.


It is an ancient tradition of the Church that the body be left to rest in the Church, before the altar, the night before the funeral. Such vigils are encouraged by the Church. Often members of the Church community come and keep prayerful watch over the deceased. When such a vigil is requested the funeral home will bring the body to the Church in the early evening of the night before the funeral. In such cases the reception of the body by the Priest will take place in the evening.


It is recommended that the family of the deceased have prayers at the home of the deceased sometime before the funeral. For those who die with the rites of the Church these prayers will be performed at the time of death.


Holy Eucharist is encouraged at funerals, especially if the deceased was a regular communicant. Words alone must surely fail, but by God’s grace Holy Eucharist brings peace through silence and spiritual fellowship. Holy Eucharist joins our earthly praise with the praise of the hosts of Heaven, and this certainly has particular relevance to a funeral. At a funeral, under no circumstances will the Bread and Wine be received by the family of the deceased to the exclusion of the congregation. The sacrament is for all whom have gathered.


Music selected for use at a funeral should embody high standards of quality, and in general reflect the spirit of Christian confidence, trust, and hope in the Resurrection. The hymns should reflect such themes as the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the communion of saints, hope in the Resurrection.  All Music selected for use at a funeral must be approved by the Rector.

  1. SOLOS: One solo at the funeral service is welcomed if the family desires.
  2. CHOIR ANTHEM: One Anthem by the Choir, if available, is welcomed if the family desires.


The altar candles and Paschal candle may be lighted before the people arrive and extinguished after they have left. When there is a choir, members will assemble in their places quietly before the service begins. The choir does not participate in the processions.


The Priest will be vested in cassock and surplice with either a tippet or white or purple stole if there is no Eucharist. If the Eucharist is to be celebrated the Priest will be vested in alb and white or purple stole and Eucharistic vestments may be worn. Copes may be worn for the service of the Word and replaced with Eucharistic vestments for the Eucharist itself. Lay Readers will wear black cassock, surplice, blue tippet and their Diocesan medal. For Priests wearing tippet and for Lay Readers hoods may be worn but are not recommended. The Priest or Lay Readers will meet the coffin, the pallbearers, and the bereaved at the entrance of the Church. (The bereaved may arrive and go to their seats prior to the beginning of the service.) The coffin remains closed throughout the service. The coffin is to be placed in the position with the feet toward the altar. The position reflects the accustomed role of the deceased in the Church as part of the congregation — facing East, the direction of the altar, Jerusalem, the rising of the sun, and the direction the scriptures informs us Christ will come again. Bishops and Priests are placed in the opposite way within the Church and within the grave. The Paschal candle is placed on its stand at the head of the coffin.


The sermon may include a recognition of the life of the deceased, but its purpose is not eulogy but a proclamation of hope and comfort in Christ.


The Commendation is a prayer which asks God to receive the deceased in mercy. The prayer is a concluding statement of trust to console the living with God’s care for the departed.


When the body of the deceased is to be transported to a distant interment site, when it has been donated for medical use, or has been lost at sea, the commendation alone will suffice. The coffin is lowered into the grave. Urns are placed in their resting place. It is important that the mourners see the coffin lowered into the grave and not simply remember it resting on top of the device by which it will later be lowered after the mourners have left, for it gives the mourners a clearer memory of what happened to the body. Earth is cast on the coffin by the Priest or one appointed by the Priest as the body is committed to its resting place. The final blessing and dismissal, is said by the Priest. Bodies are not interred after sunset or before sunrise.


The Rector is in charge of the service. The Honorary Assistant of the Parish or the Parish Lay Readers may conduct a funeral by request of the Wardens if the Rector is not available. If at all possible, the Rector should be informed of the arrangements before they are finalised. If the family wishes to invite other Anglican Clergy or clergy of other denominations, they must first ask the Rector. The role of all invited clergy at the service is assigned by the Rector.


After the funeral, flowers may be left at the Church, left on the grave site, or taken by family members.


Although the Church will not pressure an individual or a family to make a bequest to the Church, it is expected. In our society memorials are often made to secular groups, such as the Cancer Society, and we condone this practice. However faithful Anglicans often overlook their duty to leave bequests to their Parish Church for its future upkeep and ministry.  The Church will welcome any memorials that you choose to give in honour of your loved one with gratitude, and our Rector will be glad to meet with you at any time to discuss your needs.


Sometimes our clergy are asked to be involved at the funerals of people from other Churches. We affirm that the responsibility and authority for pastoral acts or services rests with the Rector of the congregation where the deceased held membership. If our Rector is asked to provide pastoral services for members of other congregations, the Rector will contact the clergy of the Church in which the person held membership before providing the service. Our goal is to aid other Churches in their ministry without interfering. It is hoped that this sign of respect would be returned to us from other clergy and Churches. If the request for pastoral service involves an individual who has had conflicts with his/her Rector or congregation, the immediate family will be urged to resolve the difficulty prior to receiving pastoral service.


There is a rite of the Church that permits a funeral for those unbaptised or those who did not profess the Christian faith. This rite is appropriate for those who did not see the Church as their family and home. This rite is usually used in a non Anglican Churchyard.


A service may be held in the Church for those who are unable to be present at the funeral of a loved one at the same time the funeral is taking place elsewhere.


A service may be held upon the anniversary of the death of a loved one. This may take the form of a Requiem Eucharist. Flowers or the Tabernacle candle may be dedicated to the memory of a loved one at the anniversary of their death.


All names of the deceased buried in the Churchyard are kept in a memorial book and are remembered annually at the time of death in the Parish prayers.


You are encouraged to think about your own funeral. With respect for the Church’s teaching, outlined in this brochure and in dialogue with your family, you may want to leave directions as to how you wish your funeral to be celebrated. Your Parish and diocese have the resources and are prepared to offer help in this area. The Rector is always willing to help you prepare your own funeral.


There is a cost involved in purchasing a gravesite if you do not already own one. The costs are different for a full grave and a cremation plot. There is a fee for the opening of the grave. If there is to be an organist playing at the service the organist will also need to be paid. The Rector does not charge anything for conducting funerals of supporting members of the Parish. However an honorarium is expected for those who are not supporting members of the Parish. A list of supporting members is kept up to date by the Rector and the Wardens. If visiting members of the clergy or visiting Lay Readers have to be brought in to take the service an honorarium will be expected to pay for their time and traveling costs. Flowers may also be purchased for the Church.

Costs associated with the Church:
Grave plot
Grave opening
Priest or Layreader

The Rector will be happy to discuss any needed exceptions to the above guidelines with the family or friends of the deceased.

Tombstones and other Memorials

It is a common misunderstanding that Burial in a Churchyard gives rights to the relatives to erect memorials, plants or other things on the grave. A Church yard is very different to a municipal cemetery, and the rights of individual Parishioners are strictly limited:

 1.                   The strict right of a Parishioner in the Churchyard is simply the right to be buried. The erection of a tombstone or monument over a grave, though now customary, remains a privilege. It is an erection on

Consecrated ground and therefore in strictness requires the permission of the Rector and corporation.

 2.          However, the Rector or corporation almost always gives his or her permission for a particular monument or tombstone if it is deemed suitable. The same applies to the inscription, or any other wording on it.

 3.          His refusal should always be with reference to the particular case because he considers that particular monument unsuitable to that particular Churchyard. If asked why he considers it unsuitable, he should give his reasons, which would presumably be either on account of its size, its shape, its material, or the inscription, but always with reference to that particular Churchyard.

Right to Purchase Grave Plots

 I)                   Supporting members of the Parish of Christ Church, Rawdon will be permitted to purchase single or double grave plots.

 II)                 Those already owning grave plots may be buried in the Churchyard in accordance with Anglican burial policy.

 III)              Those inheriting grave plots should be aware that Christian burial in a Churchyard is reserved for those who have been baptised. In extraordinary cases there is a service for the burial of non Christians that may be used if deemed appropriate by the Rector, or during an interregnum, the Regional Dean.

 IV)              It is permissible to have two full burials in the same grave. Permission for the second burial must be obtained from the Rector, or in his absence, one of the Wardens. It is highly unusual to bury an unbaptised person in the same grave as one who has been baptised.

 V)                 Cremation plots may be purchased by supporting Anglicans of Christ Church.

 VI)              It is permissible to bury cremated remains in the same grave as a loved one. Up to four cremated interments may be made in a single grave.

 VII)            Permission to have cremated remains buried in another person’s grave must be sought from the Rector, or in his absence, from one of the Wardens. The person seeking the right to be interred should be baptised and be able to show an established relationship with the individual in whose grave the interment is to take place. A fee may be required for such interments.

 VIII)         A person is entitled to purchase one plot only.  A couple may purchase a double plot. Exceptions to this rule must be discussed with the Rector or the Corporation.