Baptists believe that people who have trusted in Christ will enter the presence of God for all eternity. In contrast, Baptists teach that those who have not entrusted themselves to Jesus Christ will enter into eternal condemnation, or hell. Baptist churches hold funeral services to remember the life of the deceased. Each individual Baptist congregation fixes the protocol for holding funerals in the church. The funeral service varies with each congregation.
Local Baptist churches generally give priority to church members and their families for funeral services. These services are usually free of charge to the family; however, non-member funeral services are celebrated at the discretion of the church leadership. Some churches charge a fee to non-members if a meal is served following the funeral service. Families are asked to contact the pastor of the church to make arrangements for the funeral service. The pastor usually presides over the funeral, but deacons and elders can also provide care for the grieving family and help in planning the funeral program.
Order of Worship
The church pastor usually presides over the funeral service. The service begins with the family and clergy entering the sanctuary in a funeral processional. Each funeral service varies in its order, but typically includes Scripture readings from the Old and New Testaments, prayer, music, acknowledgements, a reading of the obituary, tributes from friends and family and a eulogy delivered by the pastor. At the end of the funeral service, the family leads the way out of the church sanctuary in the recessional.
Many churches offer ministries to assist bereaved family members. Among the services are pastoral counseling, reading and listening materials concerning grief or special remembrances. More elaborate services include after-care ministries of several weeks throughout the year so that grieving individuals do not face the process alone. The sessions include biblical teaching on grief and recovery topics and videos with real-life stories of persons who have experienced loss.
Many churches provide a repast, or meal, for the bereaved family following the funeral and burial ceremonies for church members. Some Baptist churches also permit video presentations during the ceremony, but may place a restriction on the length of the video and request that the video be provided in advance for review. Music, instrumental and choral, is usually also provided free of charge for funerals of church members. Similarly, during funerals for church members only, the use of the facilities, cleanup, preparation and serving of food is provided without charge.