Whilst reflecting recently on my own past practice in taking funerals, I came a broader reflection on the way the Church of England approaches the care they offer at some funerals, which may simply be about the way my local patch has done things in the past, but may have a broader application. I’d welcome your thoughts:
It concerns what happens when a family from outside the parish approach a church requesting a funeral for a loved-one, because of some prior connection, most often previous residence and the fact a relative is already buried in the local churchyard or cemetery.
For other occasional offices, contact is also established in some form with the family’s local church. With baptisms, permission is typically sought from their local parish church, and in some cases baptism preparation may take place there. With weddings, assuming banns are required, formal contact is also required between the couple and the place, or places they live. There is also an encouragement through the wedding project to seek the prayer support of the parish you live in.
I am aware of no such tradition of missional contact with their parish of residence when families return to a community to have a relative buried; but do correct me if I’m wrong!
So, I’m wondering if, with the family’s approval, it would be helpful and good practice, to contact the local parish or minister of grieving relatives, so that further bereavement support could be provided by the wider church, especially since it could prove difficult for your own parish and it’s pastoral team to follow through with such work?
Otherwise, there may be a danger of leaving families isolated from other appropriate sources of Christian pastoral care, and as Christian ministers we may also be guilty of compromising our own missional capacity.
Is this something that the current research project started last year by the Archbishop’s Council could, or should, consider?