Memorial Meeting for Worship Procedures
ADVICES AND PRACTICES FOR MEMORIAL MEETINGS FOR WORSHIP
What does Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting do when someone in our community dies? These advices and practices for planning a memorial meeting were gleaned from the first three memorial services held under the care of Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting since our founding in 1989. These checklists and attached extracts are meant as helpful guidelines.
Our experience has been that we are guided by continuing revelation as our meeting community anticipates and prepares for each memorial service. Each memorial service is unique, as is each person that has died, as will be the condition of the Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting in responding to each loss. As such, memorial planning committees are encouraged to use as much or as little of the information provided below as they deem appropriate.
New England Yearly Meeting’s Faith & Practice (1985), and the Interim Faith & Practice (2014), offer background on our traditions as well as advices and queries on Bereavement, Death, and Dying. Friends are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these helpful contents and guidance, which are available online at neym.org/fp-revision/documents-discussion.
The loss of a member of our meeting community.
- Be sensitive to the needs of the meeting in supporting those who are grieving.
- Take time in coming to terms and accepting death, providing comfort to one another.
- Be mindful of the ways information is shared with the meeting, using discretion and discernment in sharing private communication between Friends and the family of the deceased.
Relationship and communications with the family of the dying/deceased.
- Whenever possible, be present for the person dying and their family throughout the dying process and anticipate their needs during this difficult time. Be sensitive to possible complexities in their relationship to Quakers and Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting.
- Offer support and sympathy to the family after their loved one has died.
- Maintain good communication with the family in planning a memorial meeting. This includes everyone—check to see if there are children, siblings, other family members who should be included in either the planning or review of materials.
- Remember this is a shared memorial for the family and Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting, and include the family in all aspects of planning, review of bios/obituaries/bulletins, communication to broader community, guest book, etc.
- Has the immediate family discussed with the extended family plans related to care of the deceased’s body after death such as plans for a wake, funeral, memorial, burial, cremation, spreading of ashes, as legally appropriate, or possible donation to science?
Forming the memorial meeting planning committee.
- At a called meeting of the Ministry & Worship Committee, appoint a memorial planning committees and name a liaison from the meeting to work with family in preparing for the memorial meeting for worship.
- The committee will meet with the family to plan the memorial meeting.
- The committee checks to see if there are others outside FPMM who should be included in planning and tasks.
Planning the memorial meeting and associated tasks.
- The memorial planning committee will set the date, time and location for memorial meeting.
- At a called meeting for business the meeting will appoint a called memorial meeting for worship, announcing the date, time and location of the memorial meeting.
- The committee will assist family with notifying family/friends about date/time/location of memorial meeting.
- The family of the deceased will be informed that FPMM will pay for any room rental for memorial meeting.
- Assist with planning rental for chairs and tables if needed (not paid for by FPMM)
- Assist the family with writing obituary if needed.
- Assist the family with preparing an announcement of “in lieu of flowers” donation if appropriate.
- Assist the family with the planning of the program/handout for memorial, which may potentially contain a biography, photo, obituary, and a description of Quaker worship.
- A sign-up sheet will be developed listing tasks related to the memorial meeting (such as, Sign-Up Genius)
- Assign at least one person to coordinate/facilitate each potential task for memorial meeting:
- Program/handouts-who will write, will photos be included, printing, distribution;
- Flowers-how will they be obtained, arranged and brought to memorial, what will happen to flowers after memorial;
- Music-live singing, taped music, instrumental, who will lead;
- Readings-scripture, secular, who will read;
- Guest book-who will prepare/create, who will oversee at memorial;
- Microphones and assisted hearing devices-how will they be obtained/returned;
- Pot luck-food sign up, overseeing set up, clean up after potluck (tables, floor, kitchen area);
- Coffee/hot water for tea-obtain coffee urns, coffee and tea, milk, sugar, etc.;
- Hospitality coordinator for out of town guests.
- Refreshments after memorial (light snacks or potluck meal).
- If having a potluck, assign people to be table watchers to set out food, clear empty dishes, and keep potluck area tidy.
- Anticipate needs of those that might be attending such as elderly, disabled, children.
- Designate memorial planning committee members or other volunteers to open the venue and set up the memorial.
For the day of the memorial meeting.
- Plan at least one hour for set up prep, two hours or more if chairs and tables need to set out.
- Appoint 1-2 people with care of worship (settling into worship early).
- Appoint someone to make the welcome and opening statement at the memorial meeting (include introduction to Quaker worship if needed).
- Appoint greeters and/or ushers to greet guests and assist them to empty seats (especially for late comers).
- Consider any parking issues/concerns-contact the local police if needed and appoint someone to guide people and save close-by spaces for the elderly, disabled, and any with special needs.
- Clean up after the memorial.
Follow up to the memorial meeting.
- Appoint a committee to write a memorial minute and bring it to meeting for business for approval.
- Forward the memorial minute to Salem Quarterly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting as appropriate (per presiding clerks).
- Continue to be sensitive to the condition and needs of the bereaved, within and without the meeting, in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
- Follow-up with those who could benefit from pastoral care and support provided by the meeting community.
SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION FOR
MEMORIAL MEETINGS FOR WORSHIP
Below are extracts of verbal and written texts that have been used by Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting to introduce and invite guests to Quaker worship. These are provided to assist planning committees in preparing programs and facilitating worship.
- During open worship everyone present is invited to speak out of the silence if moved to do so. Quaker custom suggests a period of silence following each speaker so that we may receive the spoken message in our hearts as well as our minds. The meeting for worship will close with a handshake beginning with those who have care of the meeting.
- A Quaker Meeting. A few words for those who are not familiar with Friends’ form of worship. Quakers believe that the word of God can and will be revealed to each individual who earnestly seeks it. We hold that the presence and reality of God in our lives depends not on creed, nor rites, nor sacraments, but on our attunement to God and our obedience to God’s movement in our lives. Therefore, we have no ministers, or priests, but instead gather as a community regularly to listen to God together, and thereby become ministers to each other and to the world. This is a ministry into which we grow, together, during each meeting, and during our lifetimes together.
- During the service everyone present is invited to speak out of the silence if moved to do so. Quaker custom suggests a period of silence following each speaker so that we may receive the spoken message in our hearts as well as our minds. The meeting for worship will close with a handshake beginning with those who have care of the meeting.
- Introduction to Quaker Memorial Service: Welcome everyone to the memorial service to celebrate the life of ….. My name is ….. This memorial service is under the care of Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) where …. was an active member for many years. Quaker beliefs cover a wide range, but all have in common the belief that there is good, or that of God in everyone, which can be experienced directly. Our manner of worship is an outgrowth of this belief. We gather in quiet assemblies, and open ourselves to listen for the inner voice and to seek the inner light. In addition to being a time for sharing feelings of sadness and loss, a memorial service is also a time of sharing memories, thanksgiving and gratitude for the life of the person that has died. Neither laughter nor tears are out of place here. We will begin our service today in silence. Each person contributes to the service in their own way, through silent prayer, meditation and/or personal reflection. The responsibility for the depth of the Meeting rests with all of us as we yield our minds and hearts to the inner light.
As the worship proceeds, a message may rise up within us. Sometimes the message is purely personal and is for the individual only. At other times the message has arisen from the inner light, and the person carrying the message feels moved to share the message aloud. Any message that springs from our effort to connect in a deeper manner, and which is delivered in a respectful way, is appropriate. Reflections, poetry, scripture, singing, and stories may all be part of the fabric of memory we weave together today. All present are free to speak, but messages should be relatively brief. If you feel moved to speak during today’s service, please stand and speak slowly with a clear voice so that you may be heard by all. There are no microphones so your ability to project your voice is very important. When vocal ministry is offered, please listen with an open spirit. Please allow several moments of silence between speakers so that we may have the time to fully reflect on each message. This service is expected to last between 60-90 minutes. At the appropriate time, …. and I will signal the end of the service by shaking hands with those around us. We hope you will stay for a shared meal afterward.
Please also take the time to sign the guest book, with your name and any memories you wish to share, before leaving as well.
- Welcome everyone to the memorial meeting for worship to celebrate the life of ….. My name is ……. This memorial service is under the care of Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) where ….. was an active member for many years.
Quakers believe that there is that of God in everyone, which can be experienced directly. Our manner of worship is an outgrowth of this belief. We gather in quiet assemblies, mindful of the words: “Be still, and know that I am God.” We come together in reverent silence with the desire to draw nearer to God and to understand God’s will.
In addition to being a time for sharing feelings of sadness and loss, a memorial meeting for worship is also a time of sharing prayer, thanksgiving and gratitude for the life of the person that has died. Neither laughter nor tears are out of place here.
We will begin our worship today in silence. Each person contributes to the worship in their own way, through silent prayer, through meditation and personal reflection. The responsibility for the spiritual depth of the meeting rests with all of us as we yield our minds and hearts to the guidance of the Spirit.
As the worship proceeds, a message may rise up within us. Sometimes the message is purely personal and is for the individual only. At other times the message has arisen from the Spirit that connects us all and the person carrying the message feels moved to share the message aloud. Any message that springs from our effort to connect with the Divine, and which is delivered in a worshipful manner, is appropriate. Reflections, poetry, scripture, singing, and stories may all be part of the fabric of memory we weave together.
All present are free to speak, but all messages should be brief. If you feel moved to speak during this memorial meeting worship, please stand and speak slowly with a clear voice so that you may be heard by all. There are no microphones so your ability to project your voice is very important.
When vocal ministry is offered, please listen with an open spirit. Please allow several minutes of silent worship between speakers so that we may have the time to fully reflect on each message. This memorial meeting for worship is expected to last between 60-90 minutes. At the appropriate time, (name person(s) with care of meeting) will signal the end of worship by shaking hands with those around us.
Document accepted, and approved for website posting at Business Meeting Dec 2, 2018