Anglican Funeral Traditions
Anglicans, just like Methodists and Catholics must choose between cremation and burial. Anglican funeral traditions accept that Anglicans may be cremated.
An Anglican funeral service precedes the cremation ceremony. Crematoria also have ‘gardens of rest’ for depositing the dead person’s ashes.
Just recently, the Church of England repealed old laws of not allowing full funerals to those who commit suicide. The Anglican church has held that suicide is sinful. Previously the laws stated that those who deliberately end their lives must be denied the full rites of a Christian burial.
Anglican Funeral traditions – Marking the end of a Person’s Life
Anglican funeral traditions and services reflect the wishes of the person who has died and can take place in a church or a crematorium. A typical Anglican funeral service will last for about an hour. In the past, both the clergy and those attending the funeral wore black, but today the clergy often wear white vestments.
One notable aspect of Anglican funeral traditions is that you don’t have to be a churchgoer to have a Church of England funeral, as it is freely available to everyone. If the deceased person isn’t a practicing Christian, but they still want a Christian funeral, they can have one.
Everyone has the right to a funeral in their parish church, even if they are not regular worshippers. If the vicar or priest didn’t know the dead person, they are simply provided details of the life of the deceased.
Anglican Funeral Traditions – The Coffin
Increasingly in the 21st century, it is possible to organise a modern Anglican funeral by including secular music and readings. Nothing is set in stone. Traditionally the vicar meets the coffin church door, after which he welcomes the mourners and everyone moves into the church where the service begins.
Usually, the congregation sings one or two hymns at the service. There is a tribute or eulogy during in the service by a family member or close friend.
Sometimes with an Anglican funeral service, the congregation says the Collect. This is where the entire congregation recites a statement of belief. Th vicar also delivers his sermon, speaking mostly about death and the afterlife. Sometimes Communion forms part of the funeral service.
Anglican Funeral Traditions – Time to Say Goodbye
If there is going to be a burial, the congregation moves to the graveyard and the burial takes place. Anglican funeral traditions hold that there are prayers and scripture readings at the graveside, prayers and Scripture readings. For a cremation, the coffin goes to the crematorium where the vicar and mourners hold a very short service.
Services end with a blessing from the vicar. The body is then ‘committed’ for burial or cremation. Most times with a traditional Anglican funeral, the vicar still says ‘earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.’This is usually a very emotional time, as this is the actual ‘Goodbye.’
Anglican funeral traditions dictate that the service ends with the burial or cremation. After the service, there is a gathering in the parish hall or at the home of the deceased’s family for refreshments. Friends and family of the deceased receive support as they prepare to go into the new tomorrow without their loved one in it. For more information visit the Anglican Church of Southern Africa website.
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