March 20, 2019

Funerals Policy




SUBJECT:                             FUNERAL SERVICES


DATE OF PREPARATION:       May, 2006           


DATE OF IMPLEMENTATION:       November 2011





The Keilor East -AirportWestUnitingChurch, is committed to ensuring that funeral services conducted under its care are services of Christian worship and represent a sufficient statement of the Christian gospel.  It perceives its primary pastoral task as being able to offer surviving family the ministry of Jesus Christ and to sustain them in its community of faith.


The conduct of the funeral service within this place of worship

Under the discipline of theUnitingChurchinAustralia, it is the Minister who in accordance with the Church’s recognised liturgies and its Code of Ethics, has the responsibility for presiding at and for preaching at worship.  The Minister may delegate this responsibility to, or may be assisted in this by Elders or lay leaders.

Funeral services other than those conducted under the auspices of a Minister of Religion

will not be permitted within the congregation’s places of worship unless the written

permission of the Chairperson of the Congregation is obtained.


The Eulogy

The presiding Minister or lay person will be responsible for determining the appropriate place for the eulogy in the worship service and will decide when, and to what extent other persons such as friends or family members might contribute to giving a brief summary of the deceased person’s life.


The display of memorabilia

In a Church Funeral, the body is placed where it is surrounded by the symbols of faith (the Bible, the Lord’s Table and the Cross) as well as those who mourn.  It is important to this congregation that any memorabilia having a strong link to the deceased person does not conflict with or detract from the prominence of the symbols of our faith.  Therefore, there is a strong preference for items of memorabilia to be displayed well away from the Sanctuary or in the place at which the mourners gather after the funeral.  The presiding Minister or lay person will be the arbiter of the extent to which this preference can be partially or fully disregarded.


Non-Christian rites and rituals

It is understood that sometimes bereaved families and friends will desire to incorporate the rites and rituals of other organisations and institutions into a single funeral event within the Church rather than separately at the grave-side or at the crematorium.  This congregation accepts the practice of having additional rites as a part of the event.  However, it prefers the Christian Worship Service to be the primary focus of the event.  It requires that the presiding Minister or lay person at the funeral service be responsible for determining when and in what order any other rites and rituals are performed.



The symbol of the flag

This congregation recognises the importance of the deceased person’s flag as a symbol of their cultural heritage and their love of and commitment to their people.  While it prefers the symbol to be displayed away from the sanctuary during Christian Worship services, it recognises the importance of the flag to those who have demonstrated their allegiance to it in times of war or other situations of significant threat.  It will attempt to respond effectively to requests to give the flag a position of prominence in a funeral service, so long as the position is not in visual conflict with and does not otherwise distract from the Christian symbols of faith.


The burial ritual for the Returned Services League

If the funeral service is for a serviceman or servicewoman and the rituals of the Returned Services League are to be incorporated into the event, the coffin may be covered with the national flag throughout the Christian Worship component of the service if requested by the deceased person’s family.   The presiding Minister or lay person will be responsible for determining where the Returned Services League ritual will occur within the time of commemoration.


The rite of the Masonic Lodge

If the funeral service is for a Freemason and there is a request for the rites of the Masonic Lodge to be incorporated into this time of commemorating the person’s life, the presiding Minister or lay person will be responsible for determining when the rite of the Masonic Lodge will occur within the total funeral event.


Other rites

Where there are requests for other farewell rites, such as those of a particular ethnic or cultural group, sporting club or learned society, the presiding Minister or lay person will be responsible for determining when the rite will occur within the total funeral event.