Pentecostal funeral customs are similar to other Protestant funeral traditions. The service traditionally takes place at the church, but it may also be conducted at a funeral home or at the site of the grave. In the past, it has been the custom to wear black at Pentecostal funeral services. However, white is more frequently being used to symbolize the Pentecostal belief in the resurrection of the body.
It is important to remember that there are more than 700 different denominations that identify with Pentecostal beliefs. As a result, funeral services can vary widely in length and content. Typically, the deceased’s wishes are carried out as much as possible, the family members also make suggestions regarding the service, selecting hymns or determining the length of the memorial service. Short services may run about 30 minutes, while longer services run 90 minutes or longer.
Pentecostal funeral services are led by the church’s minister, and they include standard scripture readings from the Bible. Prayers and other hymns and songs are sung by the congregation. The tone of the service is more exuberant than in other Protestant traditions. Following the musical selections, the minister typically will offer his condolences to the family members and loved ones of the deceased. The minister then preaches a sermon. The sermon is then followed by the Lord’s Prayer and possibly the Benediction.
Whether or not there will be a viewing or visitation is up to the discretion of the family. If there is a viewing, the funeral director or the ministers may escort members of the immediate family to view the body for several moments. The rest of the congregation will then line up behind the family to pass by the casket and view the body. A reception line is also formed for visitors to offer condolences to the family. When the church service is dismissed, committal service is conducted at the graveside. If the Benediction was not offered at the church or funeral home, it will be said at the brief graveside service.
Friends and family from outside the Pentecostal tradition are usually welcome to attend all portions of the proceedings. If you are attending a Pentecostal funeral and are not familiar with the services, you can follow along and participate where you feel comfortable.
Memorial flowers and donations are generally accepted. In addition, a large reception usually follows the interment and friends and relatives are invited to attend. During this time family members and friends share fond memories and special stories about the deceased. It is appropriate to offer to prepare a dish or meal to share at the reception or to serve to the family following burial.
|Pentecostal Funeral Quick Reference Guide|
|Length of Service||Varies. 30 – 90 minutes|
|Food?||Women’s group usually supplies a potluck luncheon following the service.|
|Dress Code? (Men/Women)||Dark & Somber / Men: Jacket & Tie|
|Source of Readings?||Scriptures & Hymnals|
|Open Casket?||Up to the family.|
|Return to Work? (Days)||—|
|No. of Days to Mourn?–|
|Embalming?||Yes. Especially if a viewing is held.|
|Cremation?||Cremation is permitted.|