A Methodist funeral is based on the belief that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us hope in the face of death.
A Methodist funeral service gives bereaved people the opportunity to remember their loved one’s life and offer them into God’s care.
Your funeral director can contact your local Minister and liaise with him/her on your behalf or you can contact your nearest church.
The Minister will arrange to come and see you, usually at home, and help you to plan a service that is appropriate and fulfils the wishes of the person who has died - if they have left details of the kind of funeral they would like.
The service can be very short and quiet with only a few members of the family present or a much larger occasion with music, hymns and readings.
It can be either the 'standard' funeral service from the Methodist Worship Book, or it may be possible to include music of your choice, a tribute and various readings, and prayers appropriate for the person who has died.
Methodists were among the first to accept and understand the validity of the 'Pick ‘n Mix' - or Modern British -funeral requested by a growing number of families.
Funeral services can take place at the local Methodist church or at a local crematorium. If someone is cremated, there will usually be a service at the local church followed by a shorter service at the crematorium where the body will be committed.
To be put in contact with your nearest Methodist church, visit the Methodist church website.
Length of funeral and other 'rules'
Methodist funeral services usually last for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Burial and cremation are the most common funerals, but more Methodists are understanding the environmental issues involved and choose green funerals.
Following a cremation, ashes can be buried or scattered either at the crematorium, in an area of the churchyard, or at a cemetery.
The funeral director will give valuable advice based on the diverse range of funerals he or she has helped organise.
Order of Service
The Minister usually starts by saying:
"We are met in this solemn moment to commend ...... (name) into the hands of Almighty God, our heavenly Father. In the presence of death, Christians have sure ground for hope and confidence and even for joy, because the Lord Jesus Christ, who shared our human life and death, was raised again triumphant and lives for evermore. In Him His people find eternal life. Let us then in humble trust hear the words of Holy Scripture."
Psalm 130 will then be read out. This is followed by a thanksgiving prayer. A hymn or suitable piece of music will be sung, after which the Minister gives the commendation, followed by The Lord’s Prayer.
With agreement from the Minister, eulogies and brief secular readings can be part of the commendation, and secular music can replace the hymn.
The committal: When the body is laid in the earth or on the platform that is supporting the coffin, the Minister will say brief prayers emphasising the resurrection.
Things to discuss with your Minister
- Who will be the pallbearers - family members or friends can be asked?
- Are there any special readings you want and who will give them?
- Are there special prayers you would like included?
- Are there special songs/hymns or music that you would like?
- 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?
Secular music, readings and other features
It should be possible to include secular music and/or readings - this is something you can discuss with your Minister.
You might want to create your playlist now.
Should we have a gathering afterwards?
Most Methodist funerals are followed by a gathering of friends and family.
Memorial services are sometimes held when the wider community wants to make some acknowledgement of the life of the person who has died and to recognise their contribution to the community.
They may also be held if the ashes are to be buried/scattered in a church other than the one where the funeral service was held.
For example, if someone has moved away from a place where they have spent most of their lives but has requested that their ashes are returned to a cemetery in a community where they had worshipped for many years. (SL-B)