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Funeral Planning

Common Questions

What do we do when a doctor or nurse tells us our family member is near death?

When death draws near, contact the pastor that they may extend the ministry of the church.  
What do we do when our family member dies?

When death comes, contact the church immediately. So that we may best assist you during this difficult time, we ask that you contact the church before arrangements are made with a funeral home. We can then assist you with scheduling service times and coordinating with the funeral home.  
Who do we have to talk to in order to set a funeral date?

The church will schedule the funeral in consultation with the building and pastors’ calendars. Speak with the church office before confirming a time or date with a funeral director.  
Should the body or ashes be present at the funeral?

The presence of the body or cremated remains is always encouraged. The church honors the body that was the temple of the Holy Spirit and insists that the body be treated with reverence. The service may be used as a Memorial service following interment or when the body has been destroyed in an accident or natural catastrophe.  
A visitation may be held in the church narthex or the back of the sanctuary immediately before the funeral. During the visitation, the coffin may be left open. It may remain open in the narthex as guests arrive for the service. Shortly before the service begins the family makes their last visit to the coffin. While they are preparing for the service with the pastor, funeral home staff members close the coffin and prepare it for the service. The coffin remains closed for the service and is not opened again. A white pall will be placed over the coffin to recall the white robe given in Baptism, the robe of Christ's righteousness.  
What about Holy Communion?

Holy Communion is a tremendous gift of grace that is a foretaste of the feast that we will one day enjoy together in the presence of God and of one another. The celebration of Holy Communion may be included during the funeral service.  
How can family members participate in the service?

Family members or friends are always encouraged to participate in the service as scripture readers, communion assistants, musicians, pallbearers, etc. Family and friends may also wish to offer a remembrance or tribute. We recommend no more than three remembrances and ask that thoughts be written down in advance. Each tribute should be kept to three minutes. Spontaneous comments are not recommended.  
What about a video tribute?

Families may wish to create a video tribute to show prior to or during the service. St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran has audio/visual technology that can facilitate this meaningful remembrance in our Gathering/Narthex are or the Family Life Center. Please inform us as soon as possible if you would like to use our A/V system for this purpose.  
Memorial service details  

If a memorial service is planned (no body present), many times people think it is not necessary to have someone from the funeral home at the church to coordinate. But it is very helpful to church staff to have someone from the funeral home in attendance who can attend any cremated remains if they are present, arrange flowers, set up the guest book, worship bulletins, and memorial envelopes, serve as ushers, and tend to any details of which the family may be unaware.  
In the absence of a body, furniture is arranged near the chancel to hold an urn and/or a picture of the deceased, along with an arrangement of flowers. A symbol of the faith of the deceased may also be provided – a well-worn Bible for example. 
Military honors

Military honors occur outside the church, after the recession; or at the graveside after the benediction.  

Many families choose to designate preferences for memorial gifts. You may wish to designate memorials to St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church.  

Bulletins outlining the service and containing information about the deceased will be made available at no cost.  

After the funeral, all flowers, potted plants or floral sprays may be taken to the grave site or taken by family members by prior arrangement. 

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