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Salvation Army funerals

'Promotion to Glory' is the term Salvationists use for the death of a Christian.

Salvationist playing trumpet

Although the death of a person naturally causes sadness, Salvationists are comforted by the belief that when the physical body dies, the soul or spirit continues to exist in another dimension.

This means that funerals tend to have an atmosphere of joy and hope as well as the sadness of losing a friend or relative.

Because of this belief, the Salvation Army’s funeral colour is white and the flags which are walked to the graveside are draped with white ribbons.

The service (meeting) is usually led by an officer but this is not always the case and others can lead the meeting or take part in various ways, including talking about their personal experiences of God.

Approved/typical venues

Salvation Army Hall or crematorium/cemetery chapel.

Length of funeral and other 'rules'

Salvationists may be buried or cremated.

Funeral services generally last half an hour to an hour, followed by a service at the crematorium or cemetery if required. Sometimes a memorial service is held on the following Sunday.

Funeral traditions include:

  • A Salvation Army flag draped over the coffin;
  • The departed’s cap, Bible and Salvation Army song book placed on the flag;
  • A white ribbon at the top of the flagpole;
  • A brass band leading the cortège, though this is increasingly rare;
  • The funeral director will give advice based on experience of the diverse range of funerals he or she has helped organise.

Things you might want to discuss with your Minister

  • Who will be the pallbearers?
  • Who will do the readings?
  • What special prayers, readings, music would be appropriate?
  • 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

The funeral will combine the formality appropriate to the occasion with the personal touch, spontaneity and warmth that are hallmarks of a Salvation Army meeting.

The programme, or order of service, will include congregational songs, prayer, scripture readings, brief eulogies and tributes and musical items that can include secular music if appropriate choices are made.

The event should be used to raise funds for the Salvation Army’s work in supplying services to deprived communities.

Find out more about the Salvation Army in the UK here.

Secular music and readings 

If appropriate, these can usually be included. Create a playlist now.

Should we have a gathering afterwards?

This can be an option, although generally no alcohol will be consumed.

Memorial services

Occasionally a time is set aside for a memorial service during the Sunday following the funeral to give thanks for the life of the person who has died. (SL-B)

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