Methodist Funeral Traditions

While there are differing views among different churches and communities, Methodists commonly believe that those who believe in God and love God will spend eternal life with Him. Mortal life is understood as a gift from God, and when a Methodist dies he or she is taking a step closer to eternal life with God. Many Methodists believe that when Christ comes back to earth the dead will be resurrected, as Christ died and was resurrected.

After death has occurred

When a Methodist dies, a pastor should be contacted to help in planning the funeral service and identifying an appropriate funeral home.

Organ donation/donation to medical research

Organ donation is acceptable in the Methodist faith.

Cremation

Cremation is acceptable in the Methodist faith, and will not interfere with holding a traditional Methodist funeral.

To learn more about cremation, see our article Cremation.

Embalming

Embalming is acceptable in the Methodist faith.

Viewing, wake, or visitation

The option of holding a viewing before the funeral is up to the family of the deceased. The viewing can be held in the day or days before the funeral or immediately before the funeral service, and can be open to all mourners or limited to close family members. As the Methodist funeral service primarily religious, fraternal, civil, or military rites should not be delivered during the service but rather at the viewing or at the burial/interment.

To learn about viewings, wakes, and visitations, see our article Viewings, Wakes, and Visitations.

When to hold a Methodist funeral

The funeral should be held within two or three days of the death.

Where to hold a Methodist funeral

The funeral can be held at a church, at a funeral home, at a chapel at the cemetery, at the gravesite (in the case of burial), or at a family home.

The Methodist funeral service

The pastor will officiate the service, which may include hymns, a sermon, and a eulogy by a close friend or family member. If the body is not present for the service, a memorial service will be arranged. Wherever the service is held, it is appropriate that the casket be closed during the service.

To learn about the differences between funerals and memorial services, see our article Decide to Have a Funeral, Graveside Service, or Memorial Service.

Specific Methodist funeral arrangements

A spray of flowers or a pall may cover the casket, or the casket may be left as-is. If the body is not present for the service, a photograph of the person who died may be placed at the front of the room. As church customs may vary, it is best to speak with your pastor about specific arrangements. Music appropriate for a worship service may be included.

Interment

Generally, all guests are welcome to attend the interment. Whether the body will be buried in the ground or entombed in a mausoleum, or whether ashes will be interred in a columbarium or buried in an urn garden, the ceremony will be led by the pastor. The pastor will recite prayers and commit the body or cremated remains to the earth.

If you will be attending a graveside service, see our article Graveside Service Etiquette.

Military, fraternal, or civil rites at a Methodist funeral

Military, fraternal, or civil rites may be performed at the interment site, and are generally not performed at the funeral service itself.

Post-funeral reception

After the interment, there may be a reception at a family home or at the church.

If you are planning a post-service reception, see our article Post-Funeral Reception.

If you will be attending a post-service reception, see our article Post-Funeral Reception Etiquette.

Mourning period and memorial events

There is no prescribed mourning period or memorial events for Methodists.