In life and in death we belong to God. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve. – from A Brief Statement of Faith

Christian faith and death: what Presbyterians believe

The funeral and memorial worship services of the church provide an opportunity for the faith community to proclaim the good news of resurrection, give thanks for and celebrate the life of the one who has died and to gather around and console those who mourn.

“The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians’ attitudes and responses to the event of death. Death brings loss, sorrow and grief to all. In the face of death Christians affirm with tears and joy, the hope of the gospel. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Spirit and the community of faith. The church offers a ministry of love and hope to all who grieve.” (Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order).

The Christian funeral and memorial services deal realistically in their presentation of death as part of life and as an inevitable and necessary prelude to resurrection. Specifically in the Presbyterian Church, such services of worship are referred to as the Service of Witness to the Resurrection. They are designed to:

  • Affirm belief in the sovereignty of God in death and life;
  • Witness to the hope of resurrection;
  • Acknowledge the nature of humanity as finite;
  • Provide the support of the community of faith and care;
  • Establish a climate for “healthy grief” to occur and for healing to happen.

Planning the service

The stress on families when they experience a death is great. Not only are they dealing with their loss and sorrow, but they must also make many decisions immediately. We offer a planning guide to as an opportunity for you to make a great gift to your family by prayerfully considering your wishes for your funeral or memorial service, discussing these with your family and presenting them and the church with a copy of your wishes and suggestions. Click here to download the planning guide.