While death comes to us all, the death of a loved one can be an emotional and difficult time. The Rector at St. Timothy’s Church considers it a privilege to walk with you and your family through the days before and after the death of a family member.
At the Time of Death
Clergy and Lay Leaders are available to provide the rituals and sacraments of the church for those who are dying. They can provide Holy Communion for those who are still able to receive it, anointing for those who are dying, and prayers of commendation for those who have died. The clergy may be reached by calling the Church Office, 202-582-7740. After hours, please refer to the Rector's home number located in the church directory available to members.
The Litany at the Time of Death (The Book of Common Prayer pg. 462-467) is an order of prayers and blessings that can be adapted to fit all situations and even repeated when a situation, for the sake of family peace or individual comfort, warrants it.
The death of a member of the church should be reported as soon as possible and arrangements for the funeral made in consultation with the Rector. The clergy may be reached by calling the Church Office. After hours, please refer to the Rector's home number located in the church directory available to members.
Because we recognize that all persons contacting the church about a death may not be Christians, Episcopalians, or familiar with how to plan a service celebrating the life of their loved one, clergy and church staff work very closely with the family to plan a service that honors the individual and respects the family and friends while remaining true to the understanding of death and dying that arises out of Christian tradition.
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP, pg. 507) describes our perspective on the burial rite:
"The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised.
"The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that 'neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
"This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn."
The Book of Common Prayer offers two orders of service for burial. The Rite I service (BCP pg. 469-489) uses a more traditional, formal language. The Rite II service (BCP pg. 491-505) uses modern language.
The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter. It is appropriate that it be covered with a pall or other suitable covering.
At St. Timothy’s, we encourage our members to prepare in advance to make their death as easy as possible for those who remain and those who have responsibility for carrying out their wishes. Such planning includes:
- reviewing one's financial position and consulting an attorney about any estate planning or distribution options;
- looking at the Burial Rite in The Book of Common Prayer (BCP pg. 468-489 for Rite I and pg. 490-505 for Rite II) and meeting with St. Timothy’s clergy about how the church will celebrate your life; and
- having a conversation with one's family about end-of-life decisions and desires.
To schedule a time to meet with the Rector to plan a burial service in advance, please contact the church office on (202) 582-7740.