The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised.
The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of His friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn. (The Book of Common Prayer, page 507)
At St. Matthew's Church, as in all Christian churches, we believe very deeply in our Lord's promise of eternal life to all who trust in and seek to be obedient to Christ. We certainly view the service for the burial of the dead as a solemn moment in the life of the Church, reminding us all of our physical mortality. But we also see this time as one in which we can be reminded to give thanks again to God for caring about us enough to send His Son that we might have the gift of eternal life. In this way the burial service is an Easter service with the focus on the resurrection.
When Death Occurs
When the death of a member of the Church occurs the parish office and one of the parish clergy should be called at once and arrangements for the funeral made in consultation with the clergy.
Burial From the Church
Baptized Christians, having been nurtured in the Church, are properly buried from the Church.
Music and the Service
It is appropriate to sing hymns at the burial of the dead. The selection of hymns, prayers, scripture and other details of the service is done in consultation with the clergy and the organist.
Pall for the Coffin
A pall to cover the coffin during the service in the Church is provided by St. Matthew's Church. The pall reminds us of the equality of all people before God. Therefore, flowers are not used on the coffin. The Church does not permit the pall to be taken to the funeral home or grave site.
The Book of Remembrance
The Book of Remembrance records the names of those in whose memory gifts have been given to the Church. From this fund, permanent additions are made to the Church to enhance its worship and work.
While expenses in connection with the funeral are for the family to decide, please remember that it is fitting to keep funeral expenses to a minimum. There is no charge for the use of the Church or for the service of the clergy and organist, although an honorarium may, of course, be given.
This is in keeping with the Church's teaching about death. In such cases, the service is held in the Church either before or after the burial of the ashes. St. Matthew's Church has a Memorial Garden where such burials may occur.
Flowers are not allowed except on the Holy Table as on Sundays. If flowers are desired, this may be arranged through the participating clergy.
Interment in the Memorial Garden at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me shall never die." -- John 11:25-26
This is the central expression of Christian hope. For that reason, the quotation is placed in the center of St. Matthew's Memorial Garden. We invite you to consider the Memorial Garden as a final resting place for your remains, or those of your immediate family.
St. Matthew's Memorial Garden was conceived and begun in 1986. Since that time it has been a cherished part of the congregation's life. It is truly a sacred space, and the times of interment are sacred times.
The service for the Burial of the Dead usually occurs in the church. When interment follows in the Memorial Garden, the congregation and family follow the cross to the site. The ashes are carried and placed in the ground where the stone will lay. There, in the midst of the garden, surrounded by the friends and family, the deceased is committed to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This service, in its simplicity and grandeur, has provided some of the most stirring times in the lives of members of the church. These holy occasions have been some of the most intense expressions of the faith, hope, and love of St. Matthew's community.
Cremation has always been an accepted practice within the Episcopal Church. There are a variety of reasons for its appeal to individuals. Cremation makes a clear statement of the hope of the resurrection of a spiritual body with which we live eternally with Christ.
Frequent questions about the Memorial Garden
Who may use the garden?
The places may be used by any member of St. Matthew's and those of their immediate family.
What are the costs?
The family of the deceased pay $200 for the space, plus the cost of engraving the stone. The basic fee is used for the costs of upkeep and the possible need for future expansion.
Do the ashes have to go beneath the stone?
No, there are several options. The ashes may be placed in an urn and put in the ground beneath where the stone will go. County regulations require that the urn be bio-degradable. If the family prefers, the ashes may be scattered following the service in the plantings. Or the ashes may be disposed of elsewhere and the stone used as a marker. However, you may not be interred elsewhere and have an additional stone in the Garden.
May I reserve a place?
Yes, a member may reserve a place in the Garden simply by paying the $200 fee (payable to "St. Matthew's Church - Memorial Garden") with a note requesting the space.
May specific places be reserved?
Generally, no. However, specific places next to a spouse may be held in reserve by paying the fee as outlined above and requesting an adjoining space. These spaces will be next to the deceased either horizontally or vertically.
What may be engraved on the stone?
Engraving on the stone is limited to the deceased's full name, date of birth and date of death.
May flowers be placed on the stones?
Yes, flowers may be placed on the stone of a loved one. Because this a garden, these must be living decorations and removed in a reasonable time.
The death of a member of the church should be reported as soon as possible to, and arrangements for the funeral should be made in consultation with, the Minister of the Congregation.