Resources for preparing and leading funerals

Celtic wheel cross atop a tall grave memorial

Local leaders are sometimes called up on to prepare and lead funerals, including for those on the fringes of the church networks. I recently met with various people in Pastor roles in Western Victoria for a professional development day, and we compiled a list of some of their most useful resources for grief, loss and funerals, below:

Uniting in Worship 2, Uniting Church: funeral and related services, a good reliable starting place

Arranging a Funeral: A book of Resources, Fraser Smith: service outlines for a range of different situations

Creative ideas for pastoral liturgy, funerals, thanksgiving and memorial services, Jan Brind & Tessa Wilkinson: includes time to remember in parish services

Saying Goodbye, Ruth Burgess: lots of poetry, and service outlines

Rituals for life, love and loss, Dorothy McRae McMahon

Grave Business, Walter Scholl, reviewed in SA’s New Times:

Walter Scholl has spent the better part of a lifetime in ministry in the Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Victoria. During that period, he has noted that funerals are increasingly conducted away from church for people who do not consciously hold a belief in God. Grave Business: Words for the Final Journey; A Book of Resources for Funeral Services represents his response to that trend. Grave Business is a collection of funeral services conducted in contexts ranging from the fraught to the familiar. Through each of these occasions, Sholl exhorts his audience to pay attention to their feelings, to actively sit with the grief, anger, sorrow and sense of abandonment that frequently follows in the wake of death. Only by doing so can we hope to heal the suffering that occurs when those we love pass away. Some may find Grave Business problematic, especially Sholl’s unashamed use of secular elements in the funeral liturgy. But for those looking for resources to help them deal with the challenge of Christian ministry in a secular context, this book could be a more than useful starting point. – Brendan Byrne

Ruminations is the quarterly newsletter of the Rural Ministry Unit in the Synod of NSW.ACT. The August 2016 issue includes a good reflection on the challenging task and deep opportunity of leading funerals, by Jenny Rose of Hillston (starting on page 7), and concludes with a list of useful resources on grief and funerals compiled by Darren Wright (see page 13-14).

The list of “Do It Yourself” educational modules includes E4 Grief Care, and related modules on pastoral visiting and crisis care, but an introductory module on preparing & conducting funerals might be a very useful addition at some stage.

A country graveyard on a clear moonlit night