Funerals at St. John’s


Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep in your likeness; for your tender mercies’ sake. Amen.

When a member of the parish dies or is near death, the church office should be notified immediately [(860) 767-8095]. The Rector and staff are ready to be of assistance at any hour and are willing to be with the family while burial arrangements are made at the funeral home if their presence is desired. It is highly recommended that either the family or the funeral home call the church office before a burial date and time is set and publicized so that no time conflicts occur. 


The Church is the appropriate place for the funeral of a Christian. The service is found in the 1979 version of our Book of Common Prayer (pg. 469 / pg. 491). An online version of the prayer book can be found here.

If the person has not planned out their own burial service ahead of time, those family members or friends who are taking care of the arrangements may choose to either have the Rector and his/her staff plan the service or parts thereof or they may choose to work with the Rector and his/her staff in its design. If the latter is chosen, the family will be asked to choose:

  1. Liturgical Setting: The family may choose for the burial office to be read using either Rite One (the traditional liturgical setting) or Rite Two (the contemporary liturgical setting).

  2. Holy Eucharist: The Burial Office is normally and appropriately celebrated within the context of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. However, under special circumstances, the Burial Office can be used as its own separate liturgy.

  3. Lessons: The family will be asked to choose one lesson from each of the following four groups (an online version of the Bible can be found here).

    1. From the Old Testament

      1. Isaiah 25:6-9 (He will swallow up death in victory)

      2. Isaiah 61:1-3 (To comfort all that mourn)

      3. Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33 (The Lord is good unto them that wait for him)

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

    2. From the Psalter

      1. Psalm 23

      2. Psalm 27

      3. Psalm 42:1-7

      4. Psalm 46

      5. Psalm 90:1-12

      6. Psalm 106:1-5

      7. Psalm 116

      8. Psalm 121

      9. Psalm 130

      10. Psalm 139:1-11

    3. From the New Testament

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

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

      3. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9 (Things that are unseen are eternal)

      4. 1 John 3:1-2 (We shall be like him)

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

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

    1. From the Gospel

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

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

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

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

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

Music: Christian hymns for funeral services are generally taken from the 1982 Hymnal. If the family wishes to help choose the music, the church organist will be happy to work with the family in choosing appropriate hymns and/or anthems with final approval being given by the Rector.


Lay Readers: Unless arranged by the person prior to their funeral, family members are encouraged to identify people who would read the lessons chosen from the Old Testament, Psalter, and New Testament section. A priest always reads the Gospel lesson.


Eulogists:  If the Rector does not know the person, he will encourage the family members or friends to select at least one person to deliver a eulogy.  A homily, which the Rector preaches at all funerals, focuses primarily on the resurrection and secondarily on the person.  A eulogy, on the other hand, focuses primarily on the person.  If the Rector is not familiar with the deceased, he asks the family to let him speak to what he knows and to volunteer themselves or their friends to speak to what they know in order to preserve everyone’s authenticity.


Flowers: Provision of flowers for the altar for a funeral service is to be coordinated with the Parish office. The undercroft or parish hall may be used for a reception after the funeral service.

Cremation/Casket: It would be helpful for the church office to know whether a casket will be present at the funeral service or whether the person has chosen to be cremated.  The ashes in a box or urn can be present at the funeral service if desired.


Parishioners are encouraged to leave any special instructions for their funerals on permanent record; forms to make such requests are available from the Parish Office.


The Memorial Garden is available for the direct interment of ashes. Plots may be reserved or selected at the time of death at a cost of $350. Those buried in the Garden are remembered on a bronze plaque on the outside church wall.


For parishioners and non-parishioners alike, the fee for the organist is $290.00 and we ask that the check please be made out to “St. John’s Episcopal Church” prior to the service.  If a special instrumentalist is requested and available, the fee for the instrumentalist is usually $185 and the organist is paid $35.00 above her normal fee for the time spent in rehearsing with the musician.  The church sexton is paid $50 if their services are required (that is, if the funeral is to be held on a Saturday). Gifts of appreciation may also be made to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, to the Memorial Fund, or to St. John’s Episcopal Church.

© 2020 St John's Episcopal Church

Mailing: PO BOX 422, Essex, CT 06426 | Physical: 3 Cross St, Essex CT, 06426