Deacons within the Baptist Church perform a number of roles necessary to providing for the spiritual needs of the congregation. The majority of their work is dedicated to helping the poor, elderly, sick and the bereaved. When there is a funeral, deacons often participate in the service, assist the minister in giving worship, and reach out to comfort the grief stricken. They also pray with the congregation and work hard to keep the church members close to the Lord.
Working With The Bereaved
It is common for deacons to offer their services to bereaved members of the congregation. Some churches even provide paper forms for church members to fill out in the event they need the assistance of a deacon upon losing a loved one. The Northside Baptist Church in Mechanisville, VA serves as a shining example of deacon services for funerals. Their members have the option to utilize a deacon to assist in making or answering phone calls, house-sit during the funeral or memorial service, assist with transportation of family members (airport pickups), serve as a pallbearer, open and close the church for funeral services and assist with meals for the family.
Funeral Duties For Deceased Deacons
Deacons are sometimes required to provide a number of services for the funerals of deceased church deacons. The Richmond First Baptist Church’s deacon manual states the following when it comes to such funerals: “When requested by the family of the deceased, the Deacon Fellowship traditionally serves as honorary pallbearers at funerals of Active, Emeritus and Life Deacons. When requested by the presiding minister and after consultation with the family, deacons will act as honorary pallbearers of other deacons. A section shall be reserved in front of the sanctuary or chapel for honorary pallbearer and spouses. After the service, the deacons will form two lines outside the sanctuary or chapel for the family to pass through as a tribute to the deceased deacon."
Assisting In Worship
In many cases a deacon will assist the minister in providing the worship at a funeral service. This may include reading Bible passages selected by the minister or by the bereaved family members, giving the eulogy, or giving a prayer. There are various types of prayers a deacon can give. Some are for deaths that were untimely, while others are designed for those whose deaths were carried out over a course of time, such as someone with a terminal illness. Other prayers can be given to those left behind to mourn in which the deacon asks for God’s “tender mercy on [His] bereaved servants."
In the Bible, Proverbs 27:23 says, “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds." Deacons will typically visit bereaved family and church members to counsel them spiritually through care ministry. Tri-City Baptist Church offers pastoral care ministry to bereaved church members in order to keep them close to God while comforting them. They also work with a group of ladies who volunteer to prepare meals for the bereaved family members. Having sustenance along with loving pastoral guidance are valued gifts that a Baptist deacon will provide to those suffering from loss.
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