Funeral Information

Funeral Policy

God is the giver of life. God creates and is sovereign over all living things, indeed over all creation. God sustains the creation daily through grace. God walks with each of us through our earthly pilgrimage. And in the end, God calls us home.

At the time of the death of a loved one, we witness as Christian people to the hope of the Gospel and affirm with confidence that life anew lies beyond and above the life we know on earth. The pain of grief is not to be denied; neither is the assurance of eternal life to be lost in our sorrow. In short, we both express our grief and affirm our faith. God’s love is stronger than death.

The pastor and congregation of Emsworth U.P. Church will accompany you and support you during this time. We are already praying for you and your family, and will continue to do so. Please let us know how else we may help, both now and in the days to come. We will do what we can as best as we are able.

Planning Ahead

The death of a loved one can create a time of great emotional and physical stress, making thoughtful decision making very difficult. That is why we recommend that families plan for their funeral arrangements in advance and keep in mind that our Presbyterian tradition emphasizes modesty and simplicity in these arrangements. Costs should not exceed what can be reasonably and comfortably borne by the family’s financial resources.


Things To Do Right Away

Who Should Be Contacted Immediately After Death Occurs?

  1. The deceased’s physician or emergency medical personnel should be notified immediately.
  2. Contact close family and friends. Have someone come to be with you.
  3. You will need to decide promptly which funeral home and funeral director to use. The pastor will be glad to make a referral if needed. Funeral directors assist in fulfilling legal requirements and arrange for disposition of the body. They provide use of the funeral home for visitation and transportation. In addition, the funeral director will place death notices and obituaries in local newspapers, and provide copies of the death certificate.
  4. Please contact the church immediately by calling 412-766-4238 and leave message for the pastor. The pastor will immediately contact you to provide support and guidance.

Meet With the Pastor (Contact link)

Please speak with the pastor without delay before deciding upon a date or time for the service. The pastor will work with the session of the church, the organist, and the custodian to check calendars and make the necessary preparations.

It is important to arrange a time to see the pastor. This meeting, at the church or in your home, is to provide pastoral care and plan the service. Immediate relatives and close friends may attend to help with ideas and suggestions about the worship service and to offer support.

Service of Worship

Location of the Funeral or Memorial Service

The service should be held at the church in order to connect the service to the faith community’s continuing life and witness to the resurrection. Occasionally, a funeral home may be preferred. At times, a small family gathering by the graveside is sufficient.

Funeral or Memorial Service?

These are the same except in a funeral the remains of the deceased are present while in a memorial service they are not. Both are acceptable and common within the Presbyterian tradition. In the case of a funeral, the casket remains closed. If cremation has been chosen, the urn containing the ashes may be present at the service. A memorial service that takes place a week or more after the time of death may be preferable to allow distant family members to gather for the service.

In the Presbyterian tradition, funerals and memorial services have the following purposes:

  1. To bear witness to the hope of the Christian faith;

To worship God, the Creator and Lord of life;

To remember the good news of the Gospel and the promise of resurrection.

  1. To celebrate and give thanks to God for the live, witness, and ministry of the deceased and to honor his or her memory.
  2. To provide comfort and strength and offer love and support to those grieving the loss.

The pastor plans the worship service in consultation with the family. Others may be invited to participate as leaders in the service at the discretion of the pastor. Family members, friends and colleagues may speak tributes or words of appreciation. We suggest they be brief reflections with the number of participants limited to 3 or 4.

The service may be held any day of the week, subject to the pastor’s schedule and other activities taking place in the church. It is recommended that services be scheduled for times when a majority church members are able to be in attendance.

The Committal Service

The committal service is a service of worship at the burial site when the remains are laid in their final resting place. The committal is typically attended by family and close friends, and may be conducted at the graveside or in a space provided by the cemetery. This brief service consists of prayer, scripture, words of committal and a benediction.

Bulletins and Ushers

Simple black and white bulletins can be prepared by the church and provided for the ushers to distribute for services held in the church. More elaborate bulletins with color and/or photos must be provided by the family. In all cases, the pastor will determine the order of worship.

We ask that the family designate one or two people to serve as ushers. Often, families find that children enjoy handing out bulletins to worshippers as they arrive.


It is appropriate for hymns and other sacred music to be part of the service. Music should direct the attention of those attending to the presence and power of God and enable worshippers to voice their confidence in God’s sovereign love. A list of suggested hymns can be provided by the pastor.

The selection of music may be left to the church organist and pastor, who are experienced and sensitive to the occasion. However, requests for organ music, hymns, or special instrumental or vocal music are welcome and will be granted whenever possible. Recorded music may not be played in the sanctuary.

Reception Before/After Service

Families are welcome to utilize the church kitchen and fellowship hall for receptions or meals either prior to or after the service. There is no charge for members of the church. Non-members will be asked to pay a fee for use of the church’s facilities.
The church does not ordinarily offer food service or catering. Families are welcome to provide food and beverages using their own caterer, or the church can refer the family to individuals within the congregation who can provide catering services at a fee depending upon their availability. Please have any outside caterer be in touch with the church custodian to make arrangements for delivery of any items prior to the reception. Please be aware that our refrigeration space is limited, and you may wish to have items that need to be kept cold delivered to the church as close to the time of the reception as possible.


Memorial Gifts

Many families request that in lieu of flowers, friends make a contribution to the church or to a favorite charity. This information should be noted in the obituary. Contributions to the church should be sent to:

Emsworth U.P. Church
Att: Memorial Fund
73 Hiland Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA. 15202


Because the focus of the service is to be on God’s grace and omnipotence, even in death, photos of the deceased are not to be displayed in the sanctuary or on the communion table during the worship service. Pictures may be displayed in the narthex of the church. If a reception is to be held, the family may also display photos of their loved one in the fellowship hall.

Flowers add color and beauty to the service and remind worshipers of the goodness of God’s creation. Ordinarily, one or two arrangements are sufficient. Elaborate decorations are unnecessary. A family member should contact the florist of your choice to make arrangements for flowers. The pastor can also provide the name of the florist who provides arrangements for the church each Sunday. Please ask the florist to contact the church custodian to arrange for delivery time prior to the service. Note that the church does not have refrigerated storage for arrangements that might be affected by extreme heat or cold.


Where and When to Meet Before the Service

Family and friends who will be seated together for the service will meet in one of the rooms off the sanctuary fifteen minutes before worship for instruction, prayer, and to enter the sanctuary together.


* There are no fees charged for the pastor to plan and conduct services in the church for members or non-members. Please be aware that most funeral homes do charge a fee for a pastor to conduct the service in a funeral home.

* An honorarium for the pastor may be offered at the discretion of the family.

* There is a fee of $100 for the services of the church staff to prepare for the services. This fee applies to both members and non-members of the church.

* Non-members who wish to use the fellowship hall/kitchen for a reception before or after the service will be charged a fee of $100 to cover the cost of the custodian setting up chairs/tables before the reception, taking chairs/tables down and removing trash after the reception. The family is responsible for all clean- up after the reception. The $100 fee is waived for members of the Emsworth U.P. Church.

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