Baptist funeral customs not only reflect the religious views of the Baptist faith, but they emphasize the deceased's religious activity and belief in God. The focus of a Baptist funeral is the belief that an individual who believes in Jesus will spend the afterlife in heaven, a state of perpetual bliss. As Baptist churches are autonomous and retain a great deal of local control, Baptist funerals can vary from one church to the next.
Viewing and Visitation
In the United States it's customary for funeral services to include a period of viewing and visitation. For Baptists, this visitation may occur at the funeral home or at a Baptist church. Some individuals may have viewing and visitation for two or three days prior to the funeral. This allows those in mourning to receive comfort from friends and family who can't attend the funeral, and also allows time for those who are out of town to travel for the funeral.
Hymns, Prayers and Rituals
A Baptist funeral will typically feature religious songs or hymns. There may be congregational singing in which everyone joins, and there may be a special song performed by a loved one or member of the church.
Baptist funeral prayers tend to be extemporaneous: they don't follow a set pattern and may not be written ahead of time. There are typically no formal prayers recited by the entire group of attendees at a Baptist funeral.
Other rituals such as communion are rare at Baptist funerals. Baptists tend to eschew liturgical worship and their funeral services reflect this tendency.
The central component of a Baptist funeral, like most Baptist church services, is the sermon. In some cases, the Baptist minister may recount important events from the decedent's life and offer words of comfort to friends and family. The central topic of the sermon, however, is usually the Baptist Gospel message: that an individual can spend the afterlife in heaven with Jesus if they accept Jesus into their hearts and are born again.
Like many other American funerals, Baptist funerals may also have a graveside component where the decedent's closest family and friends attend the individual's internment. The minister may read some Scripture passages, and say a few words of blessing and encouragement. The graveside service is typically shorter than the primary funeral service and lasts around 20 to 30 minutes.
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