Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Episcopal Church »  |  The Diocese of Virginia

Funerals/Memorial Services

The passing of a loved one is a time of sorrow, but as Christians we also know that even as we grieve, we celebrate the gift of our loved one's life.

The Church of the Epiphany holds funerals or memorial services for parishioners and for family members of parishioners. Please contact the Rector if you have suffered the loss of a loved one and wish to have a memorial service at The Church of the Epiphany.


Planning a Service

This section of the website is intended to assist in the process of planning for a Memorial Service at our parish. It includes suggested readings, an explanation of the choices you can make about the service and about interment in our Memorial Garden, and policies regarding music , flowers, and graveside services.We hope thisact of preparation is a comfort to those who mourn. The prayers we say, the hymns we sing, the liturgy itself, are all expressions of our belief in the Resurrection—that we will sit at the Heavenly Banquet Table with our Lord after death.

Notification of Clergy

The Book of Common Prayer reminds us that “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 Priest of the Parish. Baptized Christians are properly buried from the church. The service should be held at a time with the congregation has the opportunity to be present.“

Location of Service

As the Book of Common Prayer says, the Memorial Service is most appropriately conducted from the church. Under certain conditions, funerals may be held at the grave. Service in funeral homes are discouraged. However, if the service must be held in a funeral home, the casket should be closed prior to the service.

The Service

The Burial Rites are in the Book of Common Prayer. There are two forms: Rite I, with the traditional “thee and thou” language (BCP page 469), or Rite II, with more contemporary language (BCP page 491). When the casket is brought to the church, floral arrangements or flags that have covered the casket in the funeral home will be removed for the service and the casket will be covered with a pall, a white cloth.Members of the family and friends of the family may be seated before the service begins or may process in following the priest as the service begins. The celebration of Holy Eucharist (communion) is usually a part of the memorial service; all baptized Christians, regardless of denomination, are invited to receive the Holy Communion. There are a number of suggested readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, Revelation, and the Gospel. There are usually four readings: Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament, & Gospel. Family members or friends may be designated to read any of the lessons from Scripture except for the Gospel, which is read by the priest.

The suggested readings are as follows
 From the Old Testament

Isaiah 25:6-9 (He will swallow up death for ever)

Isaiah 61:1-3 (To comfort those who mourn)

Lamentations 3:22-26,31-33 (The Lord is good to those who wait for him)

Wisdom 3:1-5,9 (The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God)

Job 19:21-27a (I know that my Redeemer lives)

Psalms: 42:1-7, 46, 90:1-12, 121, 130, 139:1-11, 23, 27, 106:1-5, 116.

From the New Testament

Romans 8:14-19,34-35,37-39 (The glory that shall be revealed)

1Corinthians 15:2-26,35-38,42-44,53-58 (The imperishable body)

2 Corinthians 4:16--5:9 (Things that are unseen are eternal)

1 John 3:1-2 (We shall be like him)

Revelation 7:9-17 (God will wipe away every tear)

Revelation 21:2-7 (Behold, I make all things new).

The Gospel

John 5:24-27 (He who believes has everlasting life)

John 6:37-40 (All that the Father gives me will come to you)

John 10:11-16 (I am the good shepherd)

John 11:21-27 (I am the resurrection and the life)

John 14:1-6 (In my Father's house are many rooms)

Music, if desired, may be played before and after the service by the parish organist, although music is not necessary at funerals. If hymns are to be sung, please consult with the priest. A list of suggested hymns are included at the end of this section of the website. Solos by family members are discouraged; the emotion of the moment sometimes makes it difficult for the soloist to provide the kind of tribute that had been hoped for. Eulogies or remembrances are limited to one, by a designated family member or old friend, and should not exceed five minutes in length.It is wise to write the eulogy rather than simply speaking extemporaneously. This keeps one’s thoughts focused and gives the speaker a sense of time limits. There will be no general invitation for people to offer their own remembrances of the deceased.Flowers for the decoration of the altar may be arranged with the parish secretary. Floral displays from the funeral home will not be brought into the church for the service.

 Cremation
As Episcopalians, we see nothing unchristian in cremation. We regard it as a properly reverent way of destroying that which has been set apart and used to the glory of God. We treat the dead body reverently, not simply out of respect for the departed person, but out of reverent awe in the presence of God’s handiwork. Whether we burn or bury the body, it passes from our sight, but never out of God’s sight.

If the deceased is cremated, the ashes, in a container or urn, may be present at the memorial service on a stand at the front of the church, before the altar. They will be covered with a pall, just as a casket is covered with a much larger pall when it is brought into the church.

If the remains are to be interred in the Memorial Garden immediately after the service in the church, a family member or the priest will carry them out as part of the recessional.St. Francis Memorial GardenThe Memorial Garden was created by the Vestry to provide an appropriate final resting place for parishioners and their families. The location is an area of ground between the parish hall and Hermitage Road. It is set off by granite stone and bronze plaque and bounded by azalea plantings. The Wardens and the priest jointy oversee the garden and determine eligibility. The cost is $500.00, which includes the brass name plate for the plaque. The plate bears the person’s full name and life dates.State and county law requires that the garden be limited to cremated remains, and that interment be in a biodegradable container such as wood or cardboard. The Memorial Garden will be kept in a generally natural setting, and maintenance will be limited to occasional leaf raking when necessary.

Fees
The recommended fee for the Organist is $125. Soloists can be arranged depending upon availability; fees will be negotiated. The choir does not usually sing for Memorial Services


The parish secretary will arrange for flowers for the altar, and is happy to request flowers in whatever color or colors you would like. However, different colors are subject to what the florist the church uses—Coleman’s—has available.


It is customary to make a donation to the church as you see fit. This covers the cost of heating or cooling the building, the sexton cleaning the facility before and after the service, and so on.

Should you wish to make a donation to the clergy, it will be put in the Rector’s Discretionary Fund to meet charitable needs in the parish and in the community.

Guest Book

You may have a guest book at the church so that those who come may sign it as a remembrance. Your funeral home may supply such a book, or they may be found in good stationery and card shops.Reception in Parish HallIt is a longstanding tradition at Epiphany to provide a reception after the service if the deceased is a member of the parish or a relative of a member. The Fellowship Committee will coordinatethe reception—it is usually a “potluck” with light finger foods and drinks.

Suggested Hymns for Memorial Services

Hymn selections generally should come from the two hymnals in regular use in our parish, Hymnal 1982 and Lift Every Voice and Sing (LEVAS). Should you wish to use other hymns, please consult with the priest.
Amazing Grace                                               LEVAS 181
Blessed Assurance                                       LEVAS 184
Breathe on me, Breath of God                     Hymnal 184
Christ the Victorious                                      Hymnal 358
Come to Me                                                     LEVAS 156
Deep River                                                       LEVAS 8
For All the Saints                                             Hymnal 287
God Be In My Head                                          Hymnal 694
His Eye is on the Sparrow                             LEVAS 191
It is Well With My Soul                                     LEVAS 188
Just a Closer Walk with Thee                       LEVAS 72
May Choirs of Angels Lead You                   Hymnal 356
My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me        LEVAS 59
On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand             LEVAS 9
Soon and Very Soon                                      LEVAS 14
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy          Hymnal 469
We’ll Understand It Better By and By          LEVAS 207
We’re Marching to Zion                                 LEVAS 12
When We All Get to Heaven                         LEVAS 20

Please feel free to contact the clergy with any questions or special requests. We will do our best to accommodate such requests, provided that they are in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion and the accepted practices of the Episcopal Church and this parish.