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Funeral Policy


Policy for a Liturgy of Christian Burial


A funeral or memorial liturgy held in the church is a worship service.  Every element of the liturgy must reflect reverence for God, fidelity to Scripture and doctrine, and content which is consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Secular content does not have a place in faithful Christian worship.  Elements which might be present in other funeral or memorial settings are not always appropriate in a liturgy on the premises of the church.  The final arbiter of appropriate content, including music, is the pastor.

 General Guidelines

Eligibility:  A funeral or memorial liturgy is normally conducted in Messiah Church when the deceased has been an active member of the congregation.

Setting the Time and Date:  Previously scheduled activities on church premises must be considered when making plans for the liturgy. We will endeavor to meet the needs of the parties concerned; however, regular scheduled liturgies of the church take precedence over funeral or memorial liturgies.

It is important that the church is notified as early as possible regarding a pending funeral or memorial liturgy.  This is necessary for notification of appropriate staff, reservation of worship space, arranging for planning the liturgy, and preparation of bulletins.

Normally, a representative of the selected funeral home/cremation service will notify either the pastor or parish office of a person’s passing.  We encourage a family member or representative to contact the office (272-2922) and pastor (272-4222) in order to be certain that notification has occurred.

Planning:  The pastor normally meets with interested family members to plan specifics related to liturgical content of the funeral or memorial liturgy.   An appointment must be made for this meeting.  The pastor assists the family with Scripture text selections and, in the case of a liturgy held at the church, with hymn selections.

The celebration of Holy Communion is normally incorporated into funeral or memorial liturgies when the deceased has been an active member of the congregation.  In the event that a majority of those anticipated to attend the funeral or memorial liturgy are persons for whom reception of Holy Communion would be inappropriate due to requirements of their own faith tradition, or to being unchurched, it may be advisable not to celebrate Holy Communion within the liturgy.

Participants:  The church will secure a crucifer (cross bearer), if one is available, and ushers, if Holy Communion is celebrated.  Should family members wish to participate in the liturgy, readers capable of appropriately verbalizing Scripture texts may serve as lectors.

The practice of audience participation in a time of remembrance is a recent phenomenon first seen in United Methodist congregations.  Although this practice has spread, it is not appropriate in a Lutheran funeral or memorial liturgy.  It is suggested that if such opportunities are desired, time be set aside during a fellowship gathering held at a suitable venue following the liturgy.

In the event that a family member wishes to share a message in connection with the liturgy, a written text of not more than 500 words may be submitted in advance of printing the bulletin, for inclusion as an insert with the bulletin.  Content must be approved by the pastor for appropriate decorum and theological integrity.  The church reserves the right to decline printing unacceptable content.

It is appropriate that any spoken message delivered during a funeral or memorial liturgy be delivered by the called pastor of the congregation.  The pastor may exercise discretion in allowing another pastor, ordained into the Ministry of Word and Sacraments, to share responsibilities for proclamation.

Fraternal or other Outside Organizations:  Since funeral and memorial liturgies within the church are religious services and are subject to the Biblical and theological standards of The Faith, other religious traditions and secular organizations do not have a role and their participation, other than attendance at the liturgy, is precluded.

The only exceptions are for honor guards provided by active-duty uniformed services.


Music:  The church will provide an approved musician to accompany the liturgy.  All music used must be chosen with care in order that it may be consistent with the sacred character of liturgical worship.  Secular music is not appropriate and is excluded.  Sacred music offered by a member of the family, or friend of the deceased, may be considered, but a number of factors are involved.  The length of time between notification and scheduling of the liturgy will often preclude the possibility of completing the steps required.  Any musical offering must be approved by the church musician and the pastor.

All vocalists and instrumentalists must be vetted by the church musician in advance of the day of the liturgy and prior to finalizing the liturgy and publishing the bulletin.  This includes musical selections and capabilities of both outside vocalists and outside accompanists.

In the event that the church musician is to provide accompaniment, a minimum of one one-hour rehearsal is required prior to vetting participants.  The church musician, in cooperation with the pastor, will determine feasibility of special music.  There are no exceptions.


Copyrighted Material:  The congregation copyright policy applies in all instances.  Photocopied music is prohibited unless accompanied by publisher authorization.

Photography:  Reverence for God, and respect for those worshiping and in mourning, precludes use of visual recording devices.  Photography or videography, by use of any device, is prohibited within the church in connection with a funeral or memorial liturgy.  The only exceptions include photographs of persons present for the occasion after conclusion of the liturgy and removal of the casket or cremains from the property.  In the event that photography is observed, the liturgy will be halted and the person or persons involved will be excused from the gathering.

Floral Arrangements and Health Concerns:  Out of concern for the respiratory health of persons attending funeral or memorial liturgies, certain flowers have been excluded from use in the building.  These include mums, poinsettias, lilies, and other high-pollen reaction-inducing flowers and plants.  Arrangements containing these are not permitted inside the building (this includes the Fellowship Hall).

Animals:  Out of reverence for the worship space, and the safety of those attending, only certified service animals are permitted.

Access Assistance:  Several wheelchairs are available to assist in conveying persons with limited mobility from vehicles to the worship space.  Please see the pastor in the event of need.

Reception:  In connection with a funeral or memorial liturgy for a member, the Fellowship Hall is available for a post-liturgy gathering.  The hall should be reserved for post-liturgy receptions when the date is set.  The rated capacity of the room (140) may not be exceeded, and we recommend at most 110.  The church does not offer food preparation services; catering is the responsibility of the family.  Church policy prohibits smoking and the use of alcohol on church property.

Fees:  There is no charge for use of the building for a funeral or memorial liturgy.  However, since such use requires additional cleaning time as well as maintenance of building security, there is a fee for sexton services.

The church musician is also compensated for the extra time required for preparation and services rendered in connection with a funeral or memorial liturgy.

The pastor will provide up-to-date information regarding fee amounts and names of the pertinent individuals.  Fees are due prior to the liturgy.  Your funeral director may be able to assist in delivering the appropriate fee to the proper parties.

Adopted by action of Congregation Council 8/12/2014

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Service Times & Directions

Weekend Masses in English

Saturday Morning: 8:00 am

Saturday Vigil: 4:30 pm

Sunday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:45 am,
12:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Weekend Masses In Español

Saturday Vigil: 6:15pm

Sunday: 9:00am, 7:15pm

Weekday Morning Masses

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 8:30 am

6654 Main Street
Wonderland, AK 45202
(513) 555-7856