Frequently Asked Funeral or Memorial Services Questions


Frequently Asked Funeral or Memorial Services Questions

Frequently Asked Questions:

Must one be a member of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church to have a funeral or memorial service at the church?
No. This ministry of the church and its pastors is open to all who profess faith in Jesus Christ, whether a member of the congregation or not.

Must one be a member of the church to purchase a niche in the columbarium?
No. Single or companion niches are available to anyone eligible for a funeral or memorial service at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. The one requirement is that he or she be Christian.

May I ask for a particular pastor on the staff?
Certainly. For church members, all pastors who are available will normally participate in the service. Non-member requests for a particular pastor can be accommodated depending upon that pastor’s availability.

How soon and at what time should the service be?
Funeral services are generally held within three to seven days following death, thereby allowing appropriate time for family members and friends to gather for the service. Memorial services can be held at any time. If a funeral is to be followed by a burial that same day, the schedule of the cemetery workers dictates that the service be held in the morning or very early afternoon as cemeteries in the area do not allow a burial to begin after 4 pm. (It is possible to have a late afternoon or evening service, followed by a burial the next morning.) Otherwise, the service should be scheduled for a time that will allow for the greatest number of people to attend. Frequently, weekday services occur before or after the luncheon hour, allowing people to be away from their offices for an extended time around noon. Saturday services are often held mid to late morning, with Sunday services being held an hour after the last worship service.

What fees are associated with the service?
Fees for the use of the building, its preparation and cleaning following the service, as well as the services of the pastors and musicians are included at the bottom of this page. There are no building usage or pastoral fees for active members of the congregation as this is part of the church’s ministry to its members.

Is it possible to use guest musicians?
The musical portion of the service is under the supervision of both the officiating pastor and the church’s Director of Music. Our own professional soloists, quartet or octet are available for the service if requested. It is also possible to utilize the services of other instrumentalists. We do not recommend the use of family or friends as soloists, as the emotional nature of the occasion makes singing or playing extremely difficult. This should be discussed with the pastor during service planning and a final determination made at that time. A guest organist or other instrumentalists may be used, subject to the approval of the Director of Music. In accordance with American Guild of Organists rules, when a guest organist is utilized for the service, the church’s organist will receive the customary service fee with the family providing an honoraria or other stipend to the guest musician.

What about flowers?
One or two floral displays are most appropriate and may be ordered through your own florist or one of several the church can suggest to you. Because of the beauty of the sanctuary itself, as well as concerns about good stewardship, we recommend that floral displays remain modest in their size and number. Floral casket blankets are not necessary as the casket will be covered with the church’s white silk funeral pall during the service. Often, friends and business or professional associates will send floral arrangements. These will be displayed in appropriate places throughout the sanctuary, narthex and the Parish Hall, should there be a reception.

May we have a viewing at the church a day before the service or must that take place at a funeral home?
Viewing can take place in the church, either on an afternoon and/or evening before the funeral, or one or two hours before the service on the day of the funeral itself. There will be a modest charge for the preparation and use of the space.

Does the church provide pallbearers?
No. If a casket is to be present, pallbearers will need to be provided by the family or friends, or arranged for by the family through the funeral director. If professional pallbearers are used, it is possible to have honorary pallbearers listed as such in the order of worship.

Who is responsible for producing the order of worship or program?
After the service has been planned with the pastor, the church will produce a draft of the order of worship and return it to the family for proofing and correction. Once a final draft is approved by the family, the church will be responsible for its printing. The cost will depend upon the nature of that printing (photocopy or offset press) and the number of copies. This expense will be included in the statement of charges from the church for its services. If a photograph is to be included in the worship program, the family must supply one suitable for reproduction.

Who is responsible for funeral notices or an obituary?
The family should designate someone to write an appropriate funeral notice which can be filed by you with the New York Times on a fee basis by telephone or fax. The notice should announce the death, as well as date and time of the person’s funeral or memorial service. These are published daily. Larger obituaries of prominent persons are published by the newspaper at its discretion and on its own schedule, with material submitted by the family subject to the paper’s editorial decisions. Notices through other papers in or beyond New York City should be filed by contacting the particular paper’s obituary department. Often, a funeral director will be able to assist with these contacts.

Who provides the guest book?
The family is responsible for providing a guest book, which can be purchased through a funeral director, at one of the city’s fine stationery stores or through the church. This will be placed in the room during a viewing, in the narthex during the service and in the Parish Hall during the reception.

When is payment due to the church?
Once the service is complete, the church’s business office will prepare a statement of charges, which can then be paid within 30 days of receipt. The single exception is payment for the columbarium niche, which must be paid for prior to the service.

May a reception follow the service?
Yes. This is an important time for worshipers to greet the family and extend their condolences. It is also a good time for people to engage in further remembrance. We suggest that if the family has favorite photographs, artwork or other important mementoes, these be displayed at the reception. The family is responsible for providing these. The church facilities supervisor will assist with their display.

Are food services available for the reception?
The church has a food services department that can assist with refreshments for the reception. This can be as simple as coffee, tea, water, juices and cookies, or as elaborate as a sit-down meal. Receptions often include tea sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and beverages, and may include wine. Generally, such plans depend not only upon the time of day the service is held, but also whether a graveside service is to follow. The cost for the reception will be included in the final statement of charges prepared by our business office.

Is the family responsible for ushers?
No. The members of the Board of Deacons of the church provide this service as one of their ministries. Deacons will be present before the service to distribute the orders of worship and to direct people to phones, coatrooms, restrooms and other facilities.

If a large photograph or portrait is available, may it be used as a part of the service?
Yes. It may be placed either in the narthex, adjacent to the guest book, or on an easel near the casket or urn.

Is it possible to have a recording made of the service?
Yes. A recording can be made of a service held in the Sanctuary. It will be supplied later as a CD. The fee for this service is $100.

May the family designate its desire for memorial gifts?
The family may choose various organizations as the recipients of memorial donations. This should be included in the notice published in the newspaper. It may also be included in the worship program. Gifts given to Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church will be acknowledged to the donor for tax purposes and a list of those giving such remembrance gifts will be provided to the family for appropriate acknowledgment.