Episcopal Funeral Service Rituals

Episcopal Funeral CustomsIn 1607, the English settlers in Jamestown, VA arrived with the Church of England as their faith. After the American Revolution, however, these settlers wanted to separate their beliefs from those of the British Crown so they founded the Episcopal Church.

At first, the church was suspect because of its British origin, but establishing in new territories eventually won the Church its own identity. The Episcopal Church is less doctrine-oriented than some other Christian faiths and operates with a democratic structure, They believe that the Bible was an inspired account, but written by imperfect human beings. Interpretation and practice are largely left up its members who are urged to make moral decisions with the guidance of scripture, prayer, and their ministers.

As in other Christian faiths, funeral services are held in a church or funeral home. Guests may sit where they choose and are not expected to view the body. A priest leads the service and sometimes includes a Bible lesson as part of the program. Non-members are expected to sit, kneel and pray with the congregation as long as this doesn’t compromise their own beliefs.

The Book of Common Prayer is the resource normally used for the readings and hymns that will be used during the service. The family of the deceased will consult with the parish clergy to design the service. It will commonly include a reading of scripture, a eulogy, and a sermon. If the funeral is part of a “requiem” an offering of Communion will be included. Partaking in Communion is reserved for Christians. There are no specific rituals for comforting the bereaved or holding anniversary services.


Episcopal Quick Reference Guide
Length of ServiceDepends
Flowers?Yes (See our Sympathy Flowers)
Dress Code? (Men/Women)Dark & Somber / Men: Jacket & Tie
Recording Devices?No
Source of Readings?The Book of Common Prayer
Open Casket?Rarely
Return to Work? (Days)7
No. of Days to Mourn?Depends
Cremation?Accepted. Remains should be treated as a body would be.
Body/Organ Donation?No official position on full body donation. Organ donation is permitted.

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