Can anyone have a Church of England funeral?

Anyone is able to ask a Church of England minister to take a funeral for someone they knew and loved. Neither the person who has died nor the person asking has to be a regular church goer. Church of England ministers will take the funeral service for anyone who lives in their parish.

Does a ‘church’ funeral have to be in church?

Church of England ministers can conduct funerals in four different venues:

  • A church. This will normally be the church building where they are based.
  • A crematorium chapel.
  • A municipal or private cemetery: this might be in the cemetery chapel or just at the graveside
  • A natural burial ground. Again, the service here could be in the chapel or meeting room of the ground, or at the graveside.

The person I knew and loved wasn’t a very traditional person. What can I do to make the service unique and reflect their personality?

The Church of England minister will want the service to tell the story of the person who has died and anything that helps do that will be welcomed. This might include music and readings, shared memories from family and friends, even balloons or doves at the graveside. Alongside that story, they will also tell the story of God’s love and the Christian hope that death is not the end.

How can I decide what Bible reading I want at the service?

Talk through with the minister what options are available. A selection of some of the most popular choices of Bible readings are available on the service walk-through page.

Although I am not very religious, I do want to say the Lord’s Prayer and sing a hymn. Will a vicar let me have other favourite readings and music as well?

Talk to the Church of England minister who will take the service about what you would like in the service. As a Christian service, the minister will want to include the Lord’s Prayer and a Bible reading, and possibly a hymn as well. There will also be other prayers which he or she will include. However, you can always ask for other favourite readings to be read that don’t come from the Bible, and to listen to particular favourite pieces of music.

I would quite like a church service for the funeral but am worried that if we have a cremation afterwards, by the time I get back from the crematorium to the wake, everyone will be gone. What can I do?

Some families find that they prefer to go the crematorium first and then come into church afterwards: others ask the church minister to go to the crematorium on their behalf. Talk to your church minister about the best way of saying goodbye, so that you can do so with the support of family and friends around you.

Is it alright to take a child to a funeral?

If the child wants to go, and the family is comfortable with the decision, there is no reason why a child should not go to a funeral. It is helpful if a particular adult is able to be with children and explain to them what is happening.

How do I find my local funeral director?

What am I allowed to do with my loved one’s ashes?

If you have had a cremation service, then the final part will be burying the ashes. This might happen within a few days or weeks and the Church of England minister who took the funeral can lead a short service. You can bury the ashes in the churchyard, or use the crematorium’s Garden of Remembrance.

I would like to sort out my funeral arrangements before I die so that my family and friends don’t need to worry about it. How do I do this?

You can start to think about a funeral service at any time. Read more about some of the things to consider here. You may also like talk to a funeral director to find out more about practical arrangements which can be made in accordance with your wishes before your death.