South Plains Presbyterian Church Guidelines for Funerals


Christians recognize with all people the inevitability of death, but Christians affirm 'neither death, nor life' nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). Yet trust in the love and power of God does not eliminate the grief that accompanies a loved one's death. We hope that this statement of policy for use of the South Plains Presbyterian Church at the time of bereavement will help relieve some of the emotional stress.


I. Use of the Sanctuary

The service on the occasion of death ordinarily should be held in the usual place of worship in order to join this service to the community's continuing life and witness to the resurrection. The service shall be under the direction of the Pastor. Others may be invited to participate as leaders in the service at the discretion of the Pastor.

From the Directory for Worship (W-4.10003); Presbyterian Church (USA).


A. Who May Use the Sanctuary

Members of the South Plains Presbyterian Church, their families, and non-members by arrangement with the Pastor and notification to the Session may hold Christian funeral services in the sanctuary.


B. Types of Services

The services may be either a memorial service without the presence of a casket or urn, or a funeral service where the casket or urn is present. If a casket is present, it will be closed and covered with a white pall in order that the attention of those attending may be for worship. In the case of a veteran, the casket may be covered with an American flag, if it is desired by the family. If an urn is present, it will be covered with a white cloth and displayed alone for the same reason. Photographs of the deceased shall not be displayed in the sanctuary, but may be displayed in the narthex or in Kirk Hall or included in the bulletin.


C. Content of Service

The service is planned by the Pastor in consultation with the family. The purpose is to provide comfort and strength to the mourners, to give thanks to God for the life of the deceased, and above all, to bear witness to the hope of the Christian faith --- the resurrection of the dead to life eternal. Music appropriate for Sunday morning worship is appropriate for funerals. It should serve to direct the attention of those attending to the presence and power of God and enable worshippers to voice their confidence in God's sovereign love. Music for the service is planned in consultation with the Worship Chairman, Organist, or Director of Music and the Pastor. A list of suggested hymns is appended for convenience. Scripture will be read and prayers offered. A homily may be preached, and the Pastor, family members, friends or colleagues may recall aspects of the life of the one who died. All special fraternal or civic rites shall be performed at a suitable location other than church property prior to the casket entering the sanctuary. This is to give further witness to the deceased's Christian faith and to insure the last words of commendation are directed toward God. The exception to this is military honors at graveside.


D. Sanctuary Preparation

Flowers add color and beauty to the service and remind worshippers of the goodness of God's creation. The family preference is to be considered as to whether flowers or memorial donations to charities are desired. The size of the sanctuary limits the number and size of floral arrangements that can be accommodated.

Reserved pew markers may be arranged in consultation with the Pastor. Nails, tacks, or tape must not be used.

E. Session Responsibilities

At least one elder currently serving on Session is to be present to represent the congregation and to assist in worship by serving where needed. Arrangements need to be made so that the Sexton is notified.

In the absence of the Pastor, the Clerk of Session will be notified and arrangements will be made in consultation with the Session. In the absence of both the Pastor and the Clerk of Session, the Worship Team Leader and the Music Committee will be notified. See Endnotes for current names and telephone numbers.


II. Use of Kirk Hall

A. Kirk Hall will be open for use of restrooms.

B .Kirk Hall may be used for after service receptions, pending approval of Session.


III. Funeral Director Responsibilities

The Funeral Director will contact and work in cooperation with the Pastor in everything pertaining to the funeral service. If interment is to be in the South Plains Presbyterian Church cemetery, the gravesite will be identified by a member of the Cemetery Committee and communicated to the Pastor. The Pastor will contact the Funeral Director to schedule the opening of the grave prior to the interment. In addition to any matters having to do with the transportation and disposition of the body, it is customary for the Funeral Director to provide death certificates; coordinate use of the funeral home, rental cars, and hearse; placement of death notices in newspapers; opening the grave or unit in a columbarium; and payment of all charges or fees.


In the case of memorial services, the services of a Funeral Director may or may not be engaged. The family will then be guided by the above guidelines.


Suggested Hymns (Hymn numbers correspond to The Hymnal used in the church)

  • 260 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
  • 543 Abide With Me
  • 280 Amazing Grace
  • 339 Be Thou My Vision
  • 526 For All the Saints
  • 473 For the Beauty of the Earth
  • 261 God of Compassion
  • 275 God of Our Life
  • 138 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty
  • 457 I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art
  • 263 Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
  • 447 Lead On, O King Eternal
  • 555 Now Thank We All Our God
  • 384 O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
  • 479 Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
  • 171 The King of Love My Shepherd Is
  • 174 The Lord's My Shepherd
  • 119 The Strife Is Oer, the Battle Done

Suggested Organ Music

  • Bach, J.S.
    • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
    • Sheep May Safely Graze
    • Fugue in E-flat Major (St. Anne)
    • Selected Chorale Preludes, including
    • From God Will Naught Divide Me
    • I Call to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ
    • If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee
    • In Thee, Lord, Have I Put My Trust
  • Brahms, Johannes
    • Selections from Eleven Chorale Preludes
  • Vaughn Williams, Ralph
    • Prelude on 'Rhosymedre'
  • Barber, Samuel
    • Adagio for Strings

South Plains Presbyterian Church Funeral Facilities Use Form

Facilities Use Disclaimer

In consideration for the use of South Plains Presbyterian Church, the undersigned agree(s) to be responsible for any damage to the property or grounds of the Church resulting from the use of the Church for the funeral service, and further agree(s) to indemnify and hold harmless South Plains Presbyterian Church and its officers, employees, and congregation from any expenses, costs, or damages of whatever nature arising from the use of the Church.




Pastor of South Plains Presbyterian Church

Date ____________________