Though most Baptist churches attempt to meet the needs and desires of family members planning a funeral service for their loved one, the overall format of a typical service is consistent. The focus will be on the departed and her life, along with the hope that comes with a relationship with God. Often the service will feature the departed’s favorite verses and songs. The funeral is a religious event, filled with singing, Bible readings and prayer.
Baptist funeral services begin with an instrumental musical prelude, featuring instruments such as piano, organ or guitar. Guests are asked to rise and stand in honor of the family members as they walk into the sanctuary, and remain standing until the entire family is seated at the front of the church in reserved pews. The congregation then sings a hymn of consolation together, such as “I’ll Fly Away” or “When We See Jesus,” and returns to their seats. The family may remain seated or stand along with the rest of the congregation.
Once everyone is seated, the pastor makes his opening remarks, thanking everyone for coming to pay last respects to the departed and offering words of comfort. He reads Scripture passages from the Old and New Testaments and offers a prayer of thanks and support. At this time, the pastor may give a brief sermon.
Time of Sharing
After the minister has spoken, there is a hymn of consolation. This may be another hymn that the congregation joins in singing, or is quite often a song performed by a solo vocalist. In many congregations, this allows a transition for family and close friends to rise and share a few words about the departed -- perhaps a funny memory, gratitude for a life of service, or simply to say, “I will miss you.” When everyone who wishes to is finished sharing, the soloist performs another song while the congregation silently reads the obituary.
For the final portion of the funeral service, the pastor returns to the pulpit to share some final words of comfort. He expresses the hope that mourners can have in the Lord, and that there is no fear in death if you are at peace with God. The pastor explains how all present can have a relationship with God if they chose to do so. After a closing prayer, instrumental recessional music commences and the congregation is dismissed.
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