We welcome your inquiry concerning funeral services at Saint Thomas’. The information below presents our policies and procedures for a funeral in the tradition of the Episcopal Church. You are encouraged to read it carefully, and if you have questions or are interested in arranging a funeral at St. Thomas’, please call the parish office 713-666-3111.
When Death Occurs
If at all possible, a clergy person should be notified when a person is near death in order that the ministrations of the Church may be provided. When death occurs, the parish office should be called. All arrangements for the funeral must be made in consultation with the Rector or appointed clergy.
The Funeral Service
The funeral service 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” (Romans 8:38-39). This joy, however, does not make human grief un-Christian. So, while we rejoice that the one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we join in sorrow and sympathy with those who mourn.
Since the funeral service is a service of worship, it is properly held in a church, unless considerations of space prohibit. Saint Thomas’ uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer for its funeral services. The service of Holy Communion is optional but we strongly recommend the Burial Service without Communion. Suggested readings are available in the Book of Common Prayer and the clergy are happy to discuss reading options.
Eulogies, or remembrances, are not a part of our funeral liturgy but we understand that they can play an important role in comforting those who are grieving. Therefore we do allow up to 2 people to deliver brief remembrances of the deceased before the opening hymn. The person giving the eulogy must be an active member of Saint Thomas’ Episcopal Church. Each eulogy should be no more than 3-5 minutes. There will be a brief homily delivered by the officiating priest in the funeral service itself.
Only the Rector or appointed clergy is authorized to make funeral plans with the family and perform the funeral service. The Rector has complete authority over the contents and conduct of the service and authorizes the date and time of service. Permission to use another Episcopal priest to conduct the service in the absence of the Rector is granted solely by the Rector. The seating capacity in the parish is approximately 400.
Pall for the Coffin
The coffin is to be closed before the service and it remains closed thereafter. A purple pall to cover the coffin during the service in the church is provided by the church. This reminds us of our mutual mortality and the royal kingship of Christ over death. In the case of a veteran of the United States military, the coffin may be covered at the burial site by an American flag, if desired. Military funeral ceremonies are appropriately conducted outside the church or at the burial site.
The Episcopal Church has no objection to cremation. The cremation may take place after the service or beforehand. The ashes may be present at the service just as a casket would be.
The Columbarium of Saint Thomas’ is open to all members of our parish and school family as a final resting place for cremated remains. Membership in the parish is defined as regular church attendance at one of our three services and a giver of record. The cost of interment is a donation of $2,750, which will include the cost of the burial niche. The policy for burial in the Columbarium can be picked up in the parish office or by speaking with clergy.