Inviting people to Remembering Services
Many churches find that ‘Remembering’ services are some of their largest congregations. The good news is that research indicates that people want and hope to be followed up by the church after the funeral. Here are some ways to help share a message of comfort and hope with even more people.
Most churches offer services held around All Souls’ day which offer people an opportunity to remember those they love but see no longer, whether the loss is recent or long ago, and to support and maintain contact with bereaved families whether or not they have had a Church in Wales led funeral.
To help with invitation:
- As part of your wider funerals ministry to bereaved families invite them to an annual All Souls’ or ‘Remembering’ service.
- Including children in the season of remembering is important, so remember to publicise your services to families with children.
- Hallowe’en is a good time to invite and involve children in All Souls’ too. This free editorial may help you do that and encourage conversation about the origins of Hallowe’en. There is a separate page looking at ideas about involving families at church around Halloween.
- This can be a good opportunity to partner with a local funeral director and other bereavement groups as they too want to offer longer term support to families. Why not go and talk to them and see if they are interested in coming along and being involved in some way?
In the service
Involve the whole congregation in prayers in a personal way, for example:
- The prayer memory box: provide lots of postcards so that everyone has one – they can be colourful or plain. Also have a fairly large, attractive box ready at the front. Invite people to write a brief ‘memory prayer’ on their postcard to say thank you to God for special memories of a person they are remembering that day – perhaps a particular memory of good times with them, or writing their name on the card simply to remember their whole unique life – and place it in the box. Some suitable music could be played while people bring their cards to ‘post’ in the box. As an alternative to the box, cards could also be pinned onto a display board instead.
Large numbers of young people and their parents come to Remembrance services through uniformed groups like Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies, along with military groups. Media coverage of WW1 anniversaries, local history research, and personal interest has encouraged families to mark this day by attending a service. What will their experience be? Make it memorable, and offer something to come back for.
- Poppy prayers: involving everyone in prayer using a familiar symbol helps to make it memorable. Poppies are a great way of doing this.
Ensure as far as possible that everyone is given or takes a poppy as they arrive for the service.
“Look at your poppy or that of someone sitting near you if you don’t have one. Poppies are bright and cheerful flowers: give thanks to God for the lives of those who have died in war, remembering all the joy they brought to families and friends, and all the good things they did for their home and their country.
“Then look at the red petals: red reminds us of danger and harm. Ask God to be close to those who are still facing danger each day, to give courage to the armed forces, and compassion to all who help others.
“Place your whole hand over the poppy: poppies are also fragile and need to be handled gently. God cares for those who are hurting and those who are sad. Ask God to comfort all who are grieving the loss of someone they love.
“Finally place a finger on the centre of the poppy: ask God to help you play your part in working for peace in the world.”
- Offer something to come back to – if everyone in the congregation was given an invitation to come to a Christmas service, such as the crib service for example, it’s likely that at least a few of them would come. Giving an invitation for one specific event is more effective than simply making a general announcement about forthcoming services. Having a card to take away and put on the fridge at home will serve as a reminder.