Memorial Services and Funerals
In general, funerals are ceremonies which commemorate the life of person who has recently died and where the body is present. Memorial usually refers to the same sort of event where neither the body nor the urn of ashes is present.
There are also gravesite services, and ceremonies for the scattering of ashes. These may take place independently of the memorial or funeral. These are often short simple rituals, without stories of memory.
But in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, the person’s life is central for the understanding of our spiritual perspective. Theology is never something abstract for us. It’s always rooted in individual lives… in community.
Thus, the memorial is a sacred opportunity to lift up the life of one of our brothers or sisters in love. The ministers of the congregation often give a eulogy at a memorial, but their words are often cradled in the testimonies of many other people who have known the person better. Silence and music are also often part of the rite, which is often a simple arrangement of readings, silence, stories and meditations.
The church maintains a Memorial Garden and a Scatter Garden as well. There are also Memorial Bricks and Plaques available. For information on these, please contact the church office.
Each ceremony is unique. There is no prayer book with a basic model, nor are there homilies about life after death, about which Unitarian Universalists hold a variety of opinions. However, our Universalist ancestors were clear about one thing at least: to wit, there is no such place as hell. In this day and age, such an affirmation may still be a solace to some.
There is no fee for one of the ministers leading the memorial for a member, but for memorials for non-members the fee for the ministers is negotiated with the family. Fees may be waived in the case of hardship.
Memorial Bricks and Plaques
Many of the bricks in the “patio” area are engraved with names, and some with dates and other personalized information. Church members and friends are welcome to create a lasting memorial to a loved one by ordering a brick with words of their choosing. Current fee is $200. (This fee can be adjusted if necessary.)
The Scatter Garden is where members can scatter the cremains (ashes) of loved ones. The plaque on the wall contains the names of those whose ashes rest in our garden.
Forms for the Scatter Garden and memorial bricks are in the Work Room adjacent to the church office.