The death of a member of the Church should be reported as soon as possible to the priest of the congregation. If death is imminent, it is always appropriate to call the priest and have him or her present. Please see Page 490 of The Book of Common Prayer.
Trinity has held, and will continue to hold, services for non-members where for various reasons the family of the deceased wishes the person to have an Episcopal service. Those arrangements should be made with the Rector of the Parish.
All Burial Mass/Memorial Service/Funeral arrangements should be made in consultation with the priest. The conduct of the service is the responsibility of the Rector of the parish. If the family of the deceased desires the participation of a minister who is not on the staff at Trinity Church, they should first contact the Rector of Trinity Church and discuss that matter with him or her fully.
Baptized Christians are properly buried from the church rather than a Funeral Home. The service should be held at a time when the congregation can be present, giving due consideration to day of the week, normal work hours, holidays and Holy Days.
The guiding rule for planning a Burial Mass is that it is first and foremost a worship service praising God and giving thanks for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter. It is appropriate that it be covered with a pall or other suitable covering. A covering is also provided for the urn or container for cremated ashes.
Any visitation with an open casket would take place at the Funeral Home. The casket is closed prior to arrival at the church and remains closed at the church.
The Committal (interment or the burial) generally takes place immediately following the Mass itself. Cremated remains may be committed in Trinity's Memorial Garden. Arrangements can be made with the Rector. There is a fee of $250.00 for a Committal. This fee includes the upkeep of the Garden and the cost of the memorial plaque in the transept hallway entrance.
Date of the Burial Mass
A preliminary meeting with the Rector is required before any date is set or announced. This meeting should take place prior to any discussion of dates with the Funeral Home.
Burial Mass Bulletin
The Church will prepare a bulletin for the Burial Mass, similar in content and design to the regular Sunday worship service bulletin. The family of the deceased is responsible for providing information requested, such as full name of the deceased, birth and death dates, and any other information requested by the Rector or staff. No obituary information will appear in the bulletin.
The church Music Director/Organist will play for the Burial Mass unless other arrangements are made with the Rector and Music Director. The Rector is the final authority in the administration of matters pertaining to music. Secular music may not be used. This includes love songs, show tunes, popular music, music composed for secular occasions, and music composed by friends or relatives. (Such music may of course be played at any reception following the Burial Mass.) The Music Director or the Rector will advise you as to the music suitable to a Burial Mass and the appropriate places in the service for music.
Music Director's Fee: It is expected that the Music Director be offered an honorarium for his/her time to prepare, practice, and play for the Burial Mass. An appropriate honorarium is $250.00
The church facilities are available to the active members of Trinity Church without charge. There are no fees for the use of the church or for the services of the priest who officiates.
There is a fee charged for the additional time of the sexton to clean and prepare the church and for his/her time after the funeral. This fee is $100. If there is a reception at the church following the Burial Mass, an additional $100 fee applies.
The sanctuary is the portion of the church served by the clergy and the acolytes, with the altar as the focal point. The Altar Guild is responsible for the care of this area. Trinity Episcopal Church is a beautiful setting and flower arrangements should be simple. Spectacular displays distract from the importance of worship and are not permitted. A maximum of four floral arrangements are permitted at a Burial Mass; one arrangement on either side of the candelabra at the high altar, one in front of the free-standing altar (optional if desired), and one in front of the pulpit or lectern (also optional). Only live floral arrangements are permitted and no ribbons, cards, or messages should be attached. If the florist delivers arrangements with ribbons or cards, those items will be removed and saved for the family. There are size restrictions for arrangements due to space in front of the altar and on either side of the cross at the high altar. The church office staff or Rector can advise your florist if necessary.
Floral arrangements for a burial mass are customarily left for the Sunday service. If the service falls during Lent when no flowers are used on Sundays or during Advent when greens are used, the family may wish to take the flowers home after the service.
All other floral arrangements will be put in the May Room or hallway leading to the May Room if a reception is to follow the Burial Mass. Otherwise, any additional arrangements or plants will be put aside until after the Burial Mass. The family needs to make arrangements to take home any plants and flowers that will not be used in the church on the following Sunday. The church is not responsible for transportation of the flowers.
The May Room is available for a post-Burial Mass reception. Trinity's Bereavement Ministry Committee can arrange for a simple luncheon or coffee/tea/cookies reception. You may request this Ministry by asking the Rector. The chairperson of the Bereavement Ministry Committee will then contact you directly.
The family may also opt to use a caterer. It is expected that caterers will furnish all linens and serving pieces. Caterers are responsible for removing their materials immediately following the reception. The kitchen should be left in the condition in which you found it.
Serving alcohol at a Burial Mass reception is generally not appropriate because of the time of day of the Burial Mass. Families and friends need to understand that while there is a desire to celebrate the life of the deceased, those driving should not be tempted to imbibe.
The service is referred to as a Burial Mass or Mass of Christian Burial because the normative service includes the celebration of Holy Eucharist. A burial service without Holy Eucharist is incomplete both theologically and liturgically. If you have concerns about those of other denominations or faith traditions who may attend the service, please do discuss your concerns with the Priest.
Conducting a Burial Mass is a normal duty of the Rector or Priest. Clergy do not expect payment or gifts. However, a Burial Mass does require extra time and care from the clergy. If you wish, you may make a check payable to Trinity Episcopal Church and write in the memo portion of the check, Rector's Discretionary Fund. These funds are used to assist the needy.
If you have questions pertaining to the Burial Mass, please feel free to ask the rector.