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Protestant Death and Funeral Service Customs and Rituals

Protestant Death and Funeral Service Customs and Rituals

Most Protestant religions believe in the idea of an afterlife. Thus, many funerals and memorial services include prayers for the soul of the deceased as well as for the comfort and support of the bereaved. While there are differences among Protestant religions (Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, etc.), there are some commonalities. A typical Protestant funeral includes an opening statement by a minister or priest, depending on the religion’s spiritual leadership. If the service is held in a church, prayers and hymns may be sung throughout the funeral service, and hymnbooks are generally available for all. Scripture from the Bible may also be shared, though that will differ by religion. Friends or family members will offer remembrances, and the funeral service usually ends with words from the minister or priest.

Things to know:

  • Flowers are appropriate at the funeral, in a church or at a graveside service
  • Modest clothing shows respect for the bereaved and deceased, with darker clothing customary but not mandatory
  • Depending on individual beliefs, there may be an open or closed casket, or cremation may have already occurred in advance of the funeral service
  • If there is a burial after a church funeral service, it usually follows on the same day, and is sometimes attended only by family members
  • Recording devices of any kind — audio, video or photo — can be used with the permission of the family, but are generally discouraged in church funeral services
  • Food for the family — easy meals that require only reheating — is often offered in the days before and after the funeral service


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