The Burial of the Dead is a liturgy of the Christian Church by which we commend a loved one who has died into the blessed rest of God’s eternal peace and affirm our belief that death is never the end to human meaning. At Holy Trinity, we offer companionship and prayer to those whose loved ones have died, helping them to plan a funeral or memorial service that will authentically express their gratitude for their loved one now gone, their grief, and their hope in God’s promise of new life in Christ.
The service of the Burial of the Dead in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer comprises scripture readings, prayers, a commendation, and at the burial site if desired, a committal. The service may also include hymns and sung anthems, a homily by the officiating priest, and a celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
The body may or may not be present for the service, depending upon the wishes of the bereaved. When a body is present, the custom of the Episcopal Church is for a closed casket covered by a pall, a special liturgical vestment of the church. Instead of a body, the ashes of the deceased may also be present, placed near the Paschal Candle that symbolizes the light of Christ.
The officiating priest will assist you in planning the service, including helping you to decide who will participate. Sometimes family members and loved ones of the deceased desire to offer readings or music, or to serve as pall bearers or ushers; other times, they wish simply to be present in quiet grief. Being candid about your preference will help you in a time of mourning.
Preparing for a holy death is a Christian spiritual practice, and Holy Trinity encourages you, as a gift to your loved ones, to make plans for your own burial. We offer you a form to record your preferences, which we will keep on file in the parish office. This record of your preferences is not a legally binding document, but simply a starting place for your loved ones to plan your funeral or memorial service. Here is the funeral preferences document as a downloadable PDF file. A more extensive planning document, provided by the Episcopal Church Foundation, can be found here.
For most funerals, one of the parish clergy will serve as the officiating priest. If you wish for an Episcopal priest from outside the parish to officiate or for other clergy, regardless of faith tradition, to participate in the service, you must first speak with the Rev. John F. Beddingfield, the Rector of Holy Trinity. To initiate your request, please contact Erlinda Brent, the parish secretary, 212-289-4100, ext. 201, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In consultation with the clergy, the acting director of music at Holy Trinity, plans the music for all funerals and memorial services. Either he/she or an assisting musician of the parish will play for the service. Any exception must be made with the consent of the acting music director, who will receive the usual honorarium in order to compensate for the time spent orienting guest musicians. Additional instrumentalists or vocalists, if desired, can also be arranged in consultation with the acting director of music. The officiating priest will be glad to connect you with the musician.
Flowers are most appropriate on the high altar, where they are a symbol of new life. Other lovely settings for flowers are on the side altar in the Memorial Chapel and at the base of the Paschal Candle, which is lit at burial liturgies as a symbol of the light of Christ. Otherwise, we encourage you to designate a giving opportunity in lieu of flowers sent to the church for people who wish to express their sympathy to you. After the service, flowers should be left to grace the High Altar during parish worship services. This gift will be acknowledged in the Sunday worship bulletins and in the parish prayers. We recommend Floraculture, 212-594-8600, although you may use a florist of your choosing. If you do wish to use your own florist, please contact Erlinda Brent, the parish secretary, to learn the specifications for the parish’s altar vases, 212-289-4100, ext. 201, email@example.com.
If you desire, a program outlining the Order of Service, together with a list of participants, can be prepared by Erlinda Brent, the parish secretary. This program will be simple in design and photocopied; Holy Trinity cannot offer printing services.
Holy Trinity can accommodate small gatherings with light refreshments in the parish garden, in the Choir Room located on the south side of the sanctuary, or in the larger Draesel Hall, in St. Christopher’s House, a separate building from the sanctuary. The reception fee covers the space use, any set-up of tables and chairs, and clean-up afterwards. You would be responsible for refreshments, decorations, and tableware, as well as servers and musicians, if desired. To reserve space, please contact Erlinda Brent, the parish secretary, 212-29-4100, ext. 201, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fees & Honoraria
Because the church buildings must be maintained throughout the year, Holy Trinity charges fees for use of the church buildings, grounds, and decorations. We also request honoraria for the various professional services surrounding a funeral or memorial service. If the costs present a financial hardship, however, you are welcome to discuss your need with the priest who will officiate at the service. No one will be denied a service because of an inability to pay.
To inquire about the schedule of fees, please contact Erlinda Brent, the parish secretary, 212-289-4100, ext. 201, email@example.com.