Presbyterian Funeral Service Rituals

Presbyterian Funeral Customs

First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah

The Presbyterian Church was founded on the beliefs of John Calvin (1509-1564) who taught that a church should be a democracy under the authority of God. Historically, many differences led to various schisms that were overcome in 1983 when at least ten different denominations merged to form the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.

As other Christians, Presbyterians recognize Christ and the Holy Spirit as divine.

Their theology focuses on the majesty of God whose essence is truth, will and purpose. For a human being, this means fulfilling God’s purpose in one’s own life. To this end, Presbyterians are often social activists who view their efforts as doing God’s work.

A funeral service is held a few days after the death. Guests are free to sit where they please and not expected to view a body. The pastor or minister presides over the ceremony. Programs are often distributed and non-members are invited to participate to the extent that they feel comfortable.

After the service, mourners may go to the home of the bereaved, but there is no set tradition for these gatherings.

Presbyterian Quick Reference Guide
Length of Service 30 – 60 minutes
Flowers? Yes
Food? Yes
Dress Code? (Men/Women) Dark & Somber / Men: Jacket & Tie
Recording Devices? No
Source of Readings? The Bible & Presbyterian Hymnal
Open Casket? Rarely
Return to Work? (Days) Usually one week, but depends
No. of Days to Mourn? Depends

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