Back to Book of Worship >>

This service is found in UMH. It is a service of Christian worship suitable for funerals and memorial services. It should be held in the church if at all possible and at a time when members of the congregation can be present. If the service is to be held in a church and led by anyone other than the pastor of that congregation, it should be done at the invitation of that pastor. This service is intended for use with the body of the deceased present, but it can be adapted for use at memorial services or other occasions.

Use of the term Service of Death and Resurrection is not intended to discourage use of the more familiar terms —funeral, burial of the dead, or memorial service. Funeral is appropriate for a service with the body of the deceased present. Burial of the Dead is appropriate for a service where the remains of the deceased are buried. Memorial Service is appropriate when the body of the deceased is not present. Service of Death and Resurrection was selected as being appropriate to any of the wide variety of situations in which this service might be used. It expresses clearly the twofold nature of what is done: the facts of death and bereavement are honestly faced, and the gospel of resurrection is celebrated in the context of God's Baptismal Covenant with us in Christ.

When circumstances make the service as it stands inappropriate, the pastor may make adaptations, using the alternative acts of worship and other available resources. Ethnic and cultural traditions are encouraged and may be incorporated into the service at the discretion of the pastor. The organist or person in charge of the music should be consulted and work with the family in all decisions on music selection.

Traditionally, pastors have not accepted an honorarium for this service when the deceased was a member of the parish.

The coffin may be covered with a pall (a large cloth with a cross and other Christian symbolism), an act whose meaning is declared by the words: "As in baptism Name put on Christ, so in Christ may Name be clothed with glory." The same pall is used in a congregation for all funerals and is a witness that everyone is equal before the table of the Lord. For each service the pall should be clean and free of wrinkles, and flowers should never be placed on top of it. Alternatively, the coffin may be covered with a flag, or flowers may be placed on it.

The service itself should be seen as a part of the larger ministry of the Church at death. At several times during this ministry acts of worship are especially appropriate.

1) In ministry with the dying, prayers and other acts of worship are crucial.

2) The pastor should be notified immediately upon the death of a member or constituent of the congregation. Prayer and other acts of worship are crucial with the bereaved at the time of death. The pastor may have an important role in notifying others of the death.

3) Plans for the service and all other ministries following a death should be made in consultation with the family and subject to the approval of the pastor. If the family requests that there be military, fraternal, or other rites in addition to the Service of Death and Resurrection, the pastor should plan carefully the sequence and interrelationship of these services so that the service is not interrupted with other rites, and so that its integrity is supported and not compromised.

4) Facing the body of the deceased and closing the coffin bring home to the mourners the reality of death and are times when the support of pastor and Christian community is important. A variety of supportive ministries by church, family, friends, and other organizations may take place between the time of death and the time of the service; see A Family Hour or Wake. Children should be invited to be present at all these services.

5) The Service of Death and Resurrection itself, commonly called the funeral or memorial service, brings into focus the whole ministry of the Church at death. It presupposes that the encounter with the body of the deceased and the closing of the coffin have already taken place, and for this reason the coffin remains closed throughout the service and thereafter.

6) The committal service is not found in UMH because the congregation cannot be expected to carry hymnals to the graveside, but it is found here following the Service of Death and Resurrection. The committal may take place immediately following the funeral, or it may be a separate service at another time and place.

7) Reentry into the community by the chief mourners following the service takes time and can be facilitated by the supportive ministry of the Church. If the service itself does not include Holy Communion, it is sometimes helpful for the pastor to take communion to the family, perhaps at the first visit following the service.

8) Continuing support of representatives of the community, including ministries of prayer and worship as appropriate, is essential in the long–term process by which those who mourn find healing.

9) Recurring memorial acts and services are occasions both of healing and of celebration. Mourners are especially open to supportive ministries on such occasions as Christmas, holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries of marriage or of death. Celebration of All Saints and other annual memorial services can also be particularly helpful.

10) It is essential that ongoing congregational life in its totality be centered in the Christian gospel, which is a message of death and resurrection. The way in which persons deal with all death—past, present, and future—will depend upon how central this gospel has become in their lives.


The congregation may participate by using A Service of Death and Resurrection in UMH 870.


The pastor may greet the family.

Music for worship may be offered while the people gather.

Hymns and songs of faith may be sung during the gathering. See suggestions under Eternal Life and Funerals and Memorial Services in UMH 940-942.

The coffin or urn may be carried into the place of worship in procession, in which case the pall may be placed on it outside the place of worship with these words:

Dying, Christ destroyed our death.
Rising, Christ restored our life.
Christ will come again in glory.
As in baptism Name put on Christ,
so in Christ may Name be clothed with glory.
Here and now, dear friends, we are God's children.
What we shall be has not yet been revealed;
but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Those who have this hope purify themselves
as Christ is pure.


If the coffin or urn is carried into the place of worship in procession, the pastor may go before it speaking these words, the congregation standing. Or if the coffin or urn is already in place, the pastor speaks these or other words from in front of the congregation.

Jesus said, I am the resurrection and I am life.
T hose who believe in me, even though they die, yet shall they live,
and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
I died, and behold I am alive for evermore,
and I hold the keys of hell and death.
Because I live, you shall live also.


Friends, we have gathered here to praise God
and to witness to our faith as we celebrate the life of Name.
We come together in grief, acknowledging our human loss.
May God grant us grace, that in pain we may find comfort,
in sorrow hope, in death resurrection.

If there has been no procession, the pall may be placed at this time.

Whether or not the pall is placed at this time, the sentences printed above under Gathering may be used here if they were not used earlier.


See hymns suggested in General Resources for Services of Death and Resurrection (on this website) and under Eternal Life and Funerals and Memorial Services in UMH 940-942.


One or more of the following or other prayers may be offered, in unison if desired. Petition for God's help, thanksgiving for the communion of saints, confession of sin, and assurance of pardon are appropriate here.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.

O God, who gave us birth,
you are ever more ready to hear
than we are to pray.
You know our needs before we ask,
and our ignorance in asking.
Give to us now your grace,
that as we shrink before the mystery of death,
we may see the light of eternity.
Speak to us once more
your solemn message of life and of death.
Help us to live as those who are prepared to die.
And when our days here are accomplished,
enable us to die as those who go forth to live,
so that living or dying, our life may be in you,
and that nothing in life or in death will be able to separate us
from your great love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

The following prayer may also be used:

Eternal God,
we praise you for the great company of all those
who have finished their course in faith
and now rest from their labor.
We praise you for those dear to us
whom we name in our hearts before you.
Especially we praise you for Name,
whom you have graciously received into your presence.
To all of these, grant your peace.
Let perpetual light shine upon them;
and help us so to believe where we have not seen,
that your presence may lead us through our years,
and bring us at last with them
into the joy of your home
not made with hands but eternal in the heavens;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The following prayer of confession and pardon may also be used:

Holy God, before you our hearts are open,
and from you no secrets are hidden.
We bring to you now
our shame and sorrow for our sins.
We have forgotten
that our life is from you and unto you.
We have neither sought nor done your will.
We have not been truthful in our hearts,
in our speech, in our lives.
We have not loved as we ought to love.
Help us and heal us,
raising us from our sins into a better life,
that we may end our days in peace,
trusting in your kindness unto the end;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Who is in a position to condemn?
Only Christ, Christ who died for us, who rose for us,
who reigns at God's right hand and prays for us.
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

PSALM 130 *

This or another version of Psalm 130 (UMH 515, 516, or 848) may be sung or spoken:

Out of the depths I cry unto thee, O Lord!
Lord, hear my cry.
Let thine ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplication.
If thou, Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee,
that thou may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord is great mercy.
With him is plenteous redemption,
and he will redeem Israel from all their sins. (RSV, ALT.)



One or both of the following or another lesson may be read:

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all the people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
A voice says, "Cry out!"
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever. (ISAIAH 40:1–8)

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. (ISAIAH 40:28–31)

Other Suggested Scripture Readings

Exodus 14:5 –14, 19–31

Israel's deliverance

Isaiah 43:1 –3a, 5–7, 13, 15, 18–19, 25; 44:6, 8a

God will deliver.

Isaiah 55:1 –3, 6–13

Hymn of joy

See Canticle of Covenant Faithfulness ( UMH 125).

PSALM 23 *

This or another version of Psalm 23 (UMH 136, 137, 138, or 754) may be sung or spoken:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (KJV)


One of the following or another lesson may be read:

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters,
of the good news that I proclaimed to you,
which you in turn received, in which also you stand,
through which also you are being saved.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead,
how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.
If Christ has not been raised,
your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have died in Christ have perished.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have died.
But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised?
With what kind of body do they come?"
Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be,
but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
But God gives it a body as he has chosen.
What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.
It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
When this perishable body puts on imperishability,
and this mortal body puts on immortality,
then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
"Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
But thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 CORINTHIANS 15:1–2a, 12, 16–18, 20, 35–38 a, 42b –44, 54–55, 57)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth;
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
"See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away."
And the one who was seated on the throne said,
"See, I am making all things new."
Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."
Then he said to me,
"It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
To the thirsty I will give water
as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
Those who conquer will inherit these things,
and I will be their God and they will be my children."


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
he who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also
through his Spirit that dwells in you.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—
if, in fact, we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
What then are we to say about these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us,
will he not with him also give us everything else?
Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will hardship, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor rulers, 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 8:1–2, 11, 14, 17–18, 28, 31–32, 35–39)

Other Suggested Scripture Readings

2 Corinthians 4:5 –18

Glory in God

Ephesians 1:15 –23; 2:1–10

Alive in Christ

1 Peter 1:3 –9, 13, 21–25

Blessed by God

Revelation 7:2 –3, 9–17

The multitude of the redeemed


Recommended, either here or after the Old Testament Lesson:

Psalm 42 (UMH 777)

As a deer longs for flowing streams

Psalm 43 (UMH 778)

You are the God in whom I take refuge.

Psalm 46 (UMH 780)

God is our refuge and strength.

Psalm 90 (UMH 809)

From everlasting to everlasting

Psalm 91 (UMH 810)

My God in whom I trust

Psalm 103 (UMH 824)

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Psalm 116 (UMH 837)

I will lift up the cup of salvation.

Psalm 121 (UMH 844)

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

Psalm 139 (UMH 854)

O Lord, you have searched me.

Psalm 145 (UMH 857)

The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Psalm 146 (UMH 858)

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Canticle of Hope (UMH 734)

God shall wipe away all our tears.

Canticle of Remembrance (UMH 652)

The souls of the righteous

See hymns suggested in General Resources for Services of Death and Resurrection (on this website) and under Eternal Life and Funerals and Memorial Services in UMH 940-942.


The following or another lesson may be read:

[Jesus said,] "Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house there are many dwelling places.
If it were not so,
would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
so that where I am, there you may be also.
And you know the way to the place where I am going.
I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me;
because I live, you also will live.
I have said these things to you while I am still with you.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything,
and remind you of all that I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

(JOHN 14:1–4, 18–19, 25–27)

Other Suggested Scripture Readings

Luke 24:13 –35

Jesus at Emmaus

John 11:1 –4, 20–27, 32–35, 38–44

The raising of Lazarus


A sermon may be preached, proclaiming the gospel in the face of death. It may lead into, or include, the following acts of naming and witness.


The life and death of the deceased may be gathered up in the reading of a memorial or appropriate statement, or in other ways, by the pastor or others.


Pastor, family, friends, and members of the congregation may briefly voice their thankfulness to God for the grace they have received in the life of the deceased and their Christian faith and joy.

A poem or other reading such as If Death My Friend and Me Divide (UMH 656) may be read as a witness. Signs of faith, hope, and love may be exchanged.


See hymns suggested and under Eternal Life and Funerals and Memorial Services in UMH.


See UMH 880–89. A hymn or musical response may either follow or precede the Creed or Affirmation of Faith.


If the Committal is to conclude this service, it may be shortened and substituted for the Commendation.


One or more of the following prayers may be offered, or other prayers may be used. They may take the form of a pastoral prayer, a series of shorter prayers, or a litany. Intercession, commendation of life, and thanksgiving are appropriate here.

God of us all, your love never ends.
When all else fails, you still are God.
We pray to you for one another in our need,
and for all, anywhere, who mourn with us this day.
To those who doubt, give light;
to those who are weak, strength;
to all who have sinned, mercy;
to all who sorrow, your peace.
Keep true in us
the love with which we hold one another.
In all our ways we trust you.
And to you,
with your Church on earth and in heaven,
we offer honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

O God, all that you have given us is yours.
As first you gave Name to us,
now we give Name back to you.

Here the pastor, with others, standing near the coffin or urn, may lay hands on it, continuing:

Receive Name into the arms of your mercy.
Raise Name up with all your people.
Receive us also, and raise us into a new life.
Help us so to love and serve you in this world
that we may enter into your joy in the world to come. Amen.

Into your hands, O merciful Savior,
we commend your servant Name.
Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you,
a sheep of your own fold,
a lamb of your own flock,
a sinner of your own redeeming.
Receive Name into the arms of your mercy,
into the blessed rest of everlasting peace,
and into the glorious company of the saints of light. Amen.

The pastor may administer Holy Communion to all present who wish to share at the Lord's table, the people using A Service of Word and Table III (UMH) or one of the musical settings (UMH) and the pastor using An Order for Holy Communion. Otherwise, the service continues as follows:


God of love, we thank you
for all with which you have blessed us
even to this day:
for the gift of joy in days of health and strength
and for the gifts of your abiding presence and promise
in days of pain and grief.
We praise you for home and friends,
and for our baptism and place in your Church
with all who have faithfully lived and died.
Above all else we thank you for Jesus,
who knew our griefs,
who died our death and rose for our sake,
and who lives and prays for us.
And as he taught us, so now we pray.


All pray the Lord's Prayer, using one of the forms in UMH 270–71, 894–96.


This may be a recessional hymn. See hymns suggested and under Eternal Life and Funerals and Memorial Services in UMH.


The pastor, facing the people, may give one or more of the following, or other, Dismissal with Blessing:

Now may the God of peace
who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
by the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you complete in everything good
so that you may do his will,
working among us that which is pleasing in his sight,
through Jesus Christ;
to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. (HEBREWS 13:20–21)

The peace of God which passes all understanding
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Now may the Father
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
according to the riches of God's glory,
grant you to be strengthened with might
through God's Spirit in your inner being,
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Amen.


A Service of Committal follows at the final resting place.


This order may be included in the Service of Death and Resurrection at the point indicated, or before a common meal following the service, or with the family at some time following the service. The people use A Service of Word and Table III (UMH) or one of the musical settings (UMH). It is our tradition to invite all Christians to the Lord's table, and the invitation should be extended to everyone present; but there should be no pressure that would embarrass those who for whatever reason do not choose to receive Holy Communion.


The pastor, standing if possible behind the Lord's table, facing the people from this time through Breaking the Bread, takes the bread and cup; and the bread and wine are prepared for the meal.


The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. The pastor may lift hands and keep them raised.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right,
that we should always and everywhere give thanks to you,
Father Almighty (almighty God), Creator of heaven and earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who rose victorious from the dead
and comforts us with the blessed hope of everlasting life.

And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven
we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

The pastor may lower hands.

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

The pastor may raise hands.

Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ.
By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection
you gave birth to your Church,
delivered us from slavery to sin and death,
and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.
When the Lord Jesus ascended, he promised to be with us always
in the power of your Word and Holy Spirit.

The pastor may hold hands, palms down, over the bread, or touch the bread, or lift the bread.

On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread,
gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."

The pastor may hold hands, palms down, over the cup, or touch the cup, or lift the cup.

When the supper was over he took the cup,
gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

The pastor may raise hands.

And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

The pastor may hold hands, palms down, over the bread and cup.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.

The pastor may raise hands.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ,
one with each other, and one in communion with all your saints,
especially Name and all those most dear to us,
whom we now remember in the silence of our hearts.

A time of silence for remembrance.

Finally, by your grace, bring them and all of us to that table
where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home.
Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church,
all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father (God ), now and for ever.



The pastor's hands may be extended in open invitation.

And now, with the confidence of children of God, let us pray:

The pastor may raise hands. All pray the Lord's Prayer, using one of the forms in UMH 270–71, 894–96.


The pastor, still standing behind the Lord's table facing the people, breaks the bread and then lifts the cup, in silence or with appropriate words.


The bread and wine are given to the people, with these or other words being exchanged:

The body of Christ, given for you. Amen.
The blood of Christ, given for you. Amen.

While the bread and cup are given, the congregation may sing hymns, or there may be vocal or instrumental music. In addition to hymns suggested and under Eternal Life and Funerals and Memorial Services in UMH, many other hymns in UMH are effective in expressing the people's loving communion with God and with one another. It is particularly effective if the people can sing from memory during communion.

When all have received, the Lord's table is put in order.


The pastor, facing the people, may give one or more of the Dismissals with Blessing listed above, or another Dismissal with Blessing.

A Service of Committal follows at the final resting place.

DOWNLOAD the Service of Death and Resurrection [.docx]

Copyright: “A Service of Death and Resurrection” Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1985, 1989, 1992 UMPH. “An Order for Holy Communion” Copyright © 1972 The Methodist Publishing House; Copyright © 1979, 1988, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1992 UMPH.