Protestants are non-Catholic Christian members of any of a large number of denominations, including Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Baptist.
While each Protestant denomination has its own distinct doctrines and practices, all revolve around the Christian theme that there is life after death for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. The funeral ceremony emphasizes the afterlife and is designed to celebrate the deceased person’s life through testimonials and remembrances. Protestant funerals may incorporate various customs, depending on the beliefs and wishes of the deceased and the family.
The Protestant funeral is generally held at a church or funeral home within three to five days following the death. It is a common practice that a visitation for family and friends occur the day before the service or some families may select to have the visitation just prior to the service. Depending on the family’s wishes, the casket may be open or closed. Visitors may express their condolences to the family, pay their respects to the deceased and visit with other guests.
A minister from the church where the deceased is a member most often conducts the funeral service. If the deceased is not a member of a specific church the funeral home can arrange for a minister. The service typically consists of a sermon or homily with scripture reading, prayers and the singing of hymns. It has become common to have a time of sharing by friends and family. Non-religious music that may be the favorite of the deceased may be used especially when the service is held at the funeral home, however the minister should be made aware of music selections.
It has become common for some families desiring a more humanist non-religious service to have a moderator, often a friend, who will oversee the order of the service.
Cremation has become more common in Protestant denominations and in our society as a whole. The body may be cremated prior to or following the funeral service. If cremation occurs prior to the memorial service the cremated remains are most often placed in an urn and are present at the service.
After the funeral or memorial ceremony there is a procession to the cemetery with the body or cremated remains. Some families may choose other forms of final disposition such as scattering the remains.
The Order of Christian Funerals
Deacon Francis L. Agnoli, MD, DMin
A review of the Roman Catholic Order of Christian Funerals. Originally published in the Catholic Messenger, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport.
A Brief Guide to Jewish Burial and Mourning Customs
Judaism requires that we honor the dead and comfort the mourner. This brief guide will outline some of the main traditions that Jews generally follow.
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