Funerals in the Episcopal Church are based on Easter and the Resurrection.

Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, shall be raised. We certainly celebrate the life of those who have died even as we proclaim our faith in a risen Lord.

A Guide to Funerals at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church 

Planning Your Funeral or Memorial Service  At Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church
The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy.  It finds all its meaning in the resurrection.  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to  separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -
Book of Common Prayer, Page 507

Advance Preparation

  • It is wise to make preparations before death occurs, including:
    • The selection of a burial lot, or other directions for the disposal of the body, such as donations or cremation.  Spaces in the Parish Columbarium are available for a modest fee, substantially less than public cemeteries.  
    • The making of a will.  It is “the duty of Christian parents to make prudent provision for the well-being of their families, and of all persons to make wills, while they are in good health, arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, not neglecting, if they are able, to leave bequests for religious and charitable uses.”  (BCP, p. 455)
    • A statement, in writing, of your wishes regarding burial arrangements.  

At the Time of Death Call Your Parish Priest

When there is a death in your family or a family member is near death, call, the church.  We want to support you and share with you at your time of loss.  

Prayers and Readings: Near death or at the time of death
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) provides prayers for the time when a person is near death (p. 462), and at the time of death (p. 462-463).  When possible, the family and friends join together in the Litany (p. 462) led by the parish priest or by a lay person if the priest cannot be present.

Prior to the Funeral or Memorial Service
Prior to the funeral it is appropriate that family and friends come together for prayers.  The Prayers for a Vigil (BCP p. 465-466) may be used.  The psalms found on pages 471-479 (BCP) may be used with these prayers or they may be used for prayer and meditation.  You may also find it helpful to read and meditate on the   Scripture passages suggested on pages 494 and 495 (BCP).

We suggest that you do not have a “viewing.”  While it sometimes makes sense for those closest to the deceased to see the body, general “viewings” are not a necessary part of Christian burial and may be an unnecessary emotional strain and financial burden; they are not permitted in the Church prior to a service.  Bereaved persons may wish to have hours at the parish hall or at home to receive visits of love and condolence from family and friends.  Time and place may be announced in the newspaper notice.

Funeral or Memorial Service
“Baptized Christians are properly buried from the church.  The service should be held at a time when the congregation has opportunity to be present.”  (BCP, p. 490)
“The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter.” (BCP, p. 490)  

Planning the Service
Suggested scripture readings are listed on pages 494 and 495 of the Book of Common Prayer.  Two or three readings are customary with at least one Psalm. Normally, members of the family or friends read the lessons.

There is a short homily after the Gospel reading in which the priest thanks God for the gifts God has given us through the life of the deceased.  We do not do eulogies in the burial service, although stories and memories may be appropriately shared by family and friends at the reception.  

The norm of Episcopal practice, as reflected in the Prayer Book, is to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. The principal act of Christian worship and our chief means of offering thanks to God, the Holy Eucharist is especially appropriate at funerals, as at all major events or passages in life.  Care is given at a funeral to ensure that all baptized persons understand that they are welcome at the Lord’s Table.  The celebration of the Eucharist at a funeral emphasizes the joy of Resurrection, the New Life we share in Christ, and the presence of the whole communion of saints in which the living are united to the dead.

It may be appropriate, in some circumstances, not to include a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

At the graveside, earth is cast upon the coffin or the ashes.

The customary vases of flowers used in the church at a Eucharist are often desired (but are not required).  These may be ordered from the Holy Innocents’ Flower Guild or from a florest who has been approved by the church. Money which would otherwise be spent on flowers may be given in the person’s memory to the Church or to an appropriate charitable organization.  In the newspaper notice, “In lieu of flowers; memorial gifts may be sent to...” will help relatives and friends.  Large numbers of floral pieces are not used in the church.

The Organist/Choirmaster, or Assistant Organist, play for funerals and chooses appropriate repertoire for the pre-service music (while people are entering prior to the service.) If desired, it is appropriate to have hymns sung by the congregation, and the clergy or organist can assist in the selection of such hymns. The music at a funeral expresses the hope and faith that Christians manifest in the face of death. The use of secular music is not permitted. 

A pall is used over the casket  or ashes.

The burial rituals of fraternal orders, military organizations, or other such associations, if used, are generally held at some time prior to the Church’s burial service.  Please discuss military honors with the clergy prior to making arrangements.

The Body
The body may be honored in ways other than traditional burial.  It is commended as good stewardship to donate one’s body or organs for medical, teaching, or research purposes.  Cremation is also acceptable, and the church provides both a columbaria and a memorial garden for the burial of the ashes. All the funeral rites of the Church may be held in the Church with the body or ashes present or not present.

The parish has no fee for the worship service for communicants in good standing.  For services for others, when approved, there will be a $300 fee for the priests, organist, and facilities. Fees for receptions and flowers are suggested elsewhere in this guide.  Spaces in the memorial garden do entail a charge of $1,000 and a two-urn niche in the Columbarium is $5,250 and a one-urn niche is $3,500.  Additional information is  provided in the Burial Choices brochure.  

The Funeral Reception Committee will provide a simple reception for up to 150 people for $100.  For larger receptions, a quotation will be provided. Please see the “Flowers” section for costs associated with our Flower Guild providing flowers for a reception. 

Please contact the church office 404-255-4023 at the earliest possible time if a reception is planned at the church.

For your reflection from the Catechism (BCP, pp. 861-862) 

What is the Christian hope?
The Christian hope is to live with confidence in the newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world.

What do we mean by the coming of Christ in glory?
By the coming of Christ in glory, we mean that Christ will come, not in weakness but in power, and will make all things new.

What do we mean by heaven and hell?
By heaven, we mean eternal life in our enjoyment of God; by hell, we mean eternal death in our rejection of God.

Why do we pray for the dead?
We pray for them, because we still hold them in our love, and because we trust that in God’s presence those who have chosen to serve will grow in his love, until they see him as he is.

What do we mean by the last judgment?
We believe that Christ will come in glory and judge the living and the dead.

What do we mean by the resurrection of the body?
We mean that God will raise us from death in the fullness of our being, that we may live with Christ in the communion of the saints.

What is the communion of the saints?
The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise.

What do we mean by everlasting life?
By everlasting life, we mean a new existence, in which we are united with all the people of God, and in the joy of fully knowing and loving God and each other.

What, then, is our assurance as Christians?
Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall     separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Life.  Amen.

Funeral Arrangements
The pages below are to assist and guide the family and parish in planning a service of resurrection for yourself or for a loved one.

The Worship Service
The parish priest will be in charge of the service and all related arrangements.  Funeral directors should be so informed and given the priest’s phone number.  It is my desire that the services be conducted as instructed by the parish priest and as provided in the Book of Common Prayer.  The priest will make selections when no preference is expressed below.

Please use:

  • The Burial of the Dead: Rite One (BCP, p. 469) with Eucharist
  • The Burial of the Dead: Rite Two (BCP, p. 491) with Eucharist
  • We encourage the use of Rite Two as most Christians are familiar with the congregational responses in that service, and hence, are more comfortable with the liturgy.  

The Liturgy of the Word (please choose at least one Old or New Testament, one Psalm, and one Gospel reading)):

Old Testament

  • Isaiah 25:6-9 (He will swallow up death forever)
  • Isaiah 61:1-3 (To comfort those who mourn)
  • Lamentations 3: (The Lord is good to those who wait for  22-26, 31-33 him)
  • Wisdom 3:1-5, 9 (The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God.)
  • Job 19:21-27a (I know that my redeemer lives)


  • Psalm 42:1-7 (As the deer longs for the water)
  • Psalm 46 (God is our refuge and strength)
  • Psalm 90:1-12 (Lord, you have been our refuge)
  • Psalm 121 (I lift up my eyes to the hills)
  • Psalm 130 (Out of the depths have I called)
  • Psalm 139:1-11 (Lord, you have searched me out)
  • Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd)
  • Psalm 27 (The Lord is my light and salvation)
  • Psalm 106:1-5 (Hallelujah!  Give thanks to the Lord for he is good)
  • Psalm 116 (I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication.)



New Testament

  • Romans 8:14-19, 34-35, 37-39  (The glory that shall be revealed)
  • I Corinthians 15:20-26, 35-38, 42-44, 53-58 (The imperishable body)
  • II Corinthians 4:16-5:9 (Things that are unseen are eternal)
  • I John 3:1-2  (We shall be like him)
  • Revelation 7:9-17  (God will wipe away every tear)
  • Revelation 21:2-7  (Behold, I make all things new)




 The Gospel

  • John 5:24-27 (He who believes has everlasting life)
  • John 6:37-40 (All that the Father gives will come to me)
  • John 10:11-16 (I am the good shepherd)
  •  John 11:21-27 (I am the resurrection and the life)
  •  John 14:1-6 (In my Father’s house are many rooms)

 The Holy Communion

  • The Book of Common Prayer assumes that all burial services include Communion.  
    • I would like the following people to present the offerings of bread and wine to the deacon or celebrant at the offertory:
  • Eucharistic Prayer:
  • When using Rite I Eucharistic Prayer II, p. 340
  • When using Rite II:   A, p. 361   B, p. 367   C, p. 369   D, p. 372


Music is an integral part of Christian worship.  The use of between one and three congregational hymns at a funeral is appropriate. Below are several suggested hymns. You may indicate preferences by circling the number of the hymn. You may also list the name (first line of text) and number of any other desired hymn found in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982.

  • 8 – Morning has Broken
  • 618 –   Watchers and ye holy ones                              
  • 208 – Alleluia! The strife is o’er
  • 625 – Ye  holy angels bright
  • 344 – Lord, dismiss us with thy
  • 636 – How firm a foundation
  • 645 – The King of love my shepherd is              
  •   376 – Joyful, joyful we adore thee
  • 657 – Love divine, all loves excelling
  • 390 – Praise to the Lord, the almighty
  • 671 – Amazing Grace
  • 433 – We gather together
  • 680 – O God our help I ages past
  • 482 – Lord of all hopefulness
  • 688 – A mighty fortress is our God

The Flower Guild arranges flowers for the Nave or Christ Chapel and, if desired, for a reception. The standard arrangement is $250 in either the Nave or Christ Chapel. If you wish to have flowers for the reception, the cost will be $200.  All arrangements will remain with the church after the service.  NO outside florist may be engaged to provide flowers. Please list below the contact for billing for flowers and or reception:

Memorial Gifts
The only flowers present in the Church are those at the altar.  In place of flower gifts from others, memorial donations may be made to:

My Remains

I wish my remains to be

  • buried (in a modest casket)
  • cremated
  • donated for research
  • an organ to be donated for transplant