Posted by: davidkhr | March 18, 2009

funeral connections and parish funerals

An interesting debate is going on within the church just now about parish funerals. Given the reducing number of ministers and the expanding parishes the number of parish funerals has been increasing. The concern has been about ministerial burnout and stress because of the increased work load. The real debate is over whether the Kirk can maintain a territorial ministry.
I’ve recently had requests for funerals from families who claim connections with the church that aren’t even tenuous. 20 years ago is the shortest one !
Funerals can be evangelical opportunities insofar as they may open or reopen doors back into the Kirk if handled sensitively. The problem is that this may add to the myth that when people pay their poll tax/community charge, they are paying for their ‘right’ to have a funeral taken by an already overworked member of the clergy.
All of which adds to the stress of ministry and the tension between vocation and family commitments (which an awful lot of people conveniently forget about).



  1. I’ve just been reading a couple of essays by Duncan Forrester and David Wright on this subject. Well, parish /territorial ministry more than funerals, but they touch on the funerals issue. I think there are growing pressures to seriously rethink what we mean by ‘national’ church and I think there will come a point when the church needs to take off its rose-tinted glasses and face up to the reality of being a church in Scotland, rather than being the church of Scotland.
    I’m curious though… is saying that funerals are an ‘evangelical opportunity’ a reality or a convenient excuse dressed up in theological terms? Have you actually found instances of people (re)turning to the church after a funeral?

  2. […] national church. Wrapped up in this is the issue of responsibilities to the parish/community and David has written about the burden of parish funerals. Related to this, I have just finished an essay looking at the […]

  3. In answer to your question John, I have had a few people making a return after funerals.
    Now is the time when the Kirk is looking serious at the Third Article Declaratory which may well take the glasses off for the first time. Roll on the General Assembly….

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