Several weeks ago we had a Clergy breakfast here at the funeral home. We had a dozen area clergy from a variety of churches come and dialogue about the state of funerals, memorial services, new trends and generally commiserate about the challenges they face in dealing with their parishioners and funeral homes. Some of them thought we were going to give some dog and pony show about a new program we were trying to push. But they were pleased to find out that we really just wanted to hear from them, the clergy, on what they felt were the issues at hand.
One of the main topics discussed were memorial services at their churches where no funeral home was involved. At our funeral home we have given these types a services an acronym, OSNR. That stands for Our Services Not Requested. With the increasing cremation rate in our area and the current economic challenges the clergy were seeing an increase in this type of service. And while a few churches have committees and personnel to handle all of the setup necessary to handle such services, many of they clergy at our breakfast stated that it was a lot of additional work on their part to organize and run the memorial services. Not that they weren’t willing to help but that they (the clergy) really appreciated it when the funeral home people were there. The clergy also said that families really don’t understand all that goes into setting up a service and then making the service run smoothly and on time. One pastor asked if I could give her a list of everything that we did so she could show it to her parishioners so that they could understand what needs to happen when they choose not to have a funeral home involved with the service. So I put together a list that is at the end of this post.
Some of the problem is that funeral homes have done too good a job over the years and people don’t notice what we do because we do it so quietly and behind the scenes. What we do isn’t hard to do. It’s not rocket science. But we know how to do it very well. We have the equipment and the experience to know what goes where and at what time to do what needs to be done.
It’s the little things like pens, contribution envelopes, collection plates and hiding the church guest book so people don’t sign it instead of the funeral register book. It’s knowing where the light switch is and that the church secretary likes to have someone at the back door to help run the elevator. It’s making sure the lunch crew has placemats and napkins and helping them set up extra tables when the crowd is bigger that expected. It’s putting everything back where you found it so come Sunday the parishioners have things just they way they’re used to it. I could go on and on.
My father used to make us go the OSNR memorial services at the church, even though people weren’t paying us for that service. He figured we better show up to make sure everything got started OK because our name was on the obit and people would expect us to be there. But at some point we had to stop doing that. It wasn’t fair to the paying customers. We hope that people will see the value that we bring to services. I’m sure price plays a part in all of this and finding the right charge that seems reasonable to people is key. The challenge is getting folks to understand all that we do. The Clergy know.
Can a family run a successful memorial service on their own? Sure they can. You can also change the wax ring on your leaky toilet for less than $ 5.00. But you pay the plumber to come and do it because he has the right tools, the right parts and knows what to do when something isn’t quite right. It’s not hard to do, but the plumber knows how to do it.
I’m Dale Clock. Thanks for listening.
And here the list of what we do for a memorial service. Just in case you want to Do It Yourself.
Arranging the service
- Call the church secretary
- Call the minister
- Call the organist
- Call the soloist
- Arrange for catering
- Compose the obituary
- Submit the obituary to the newspapers
- Cut Checks for
- Sound Tech
Service setup – arrive at least One Hour prior to service time
Equipment and products that we provide
- Delivery Van
- Flower stands
- Cremation Stand
- Poster boards
- Picture frames and stands
- Video equipment
- Plasma Screen
- Video Projection
- DVD player
- Digital Movie Camera
- Contribution envelopes
- Register books
- Memorial folders
- Prayer cards
- Mass Cards
What we do at the service
- Deliver flowers to service location
- Set up Flowers in service area
- Move flowers to reception area after service
- Deliver flowers as directed after the service & reception
- Setup Cremation Urn and Stand in Service Area
- Set up and arrange the Lobby/Narthex
- Register Stand, Book, Pens
- Contribution envelopes
- Contribution Plate/box
- Poster Boards and Pictures
- Video equipment
- Deliver Checks to Minister, Organist, Soloist etc…
- Stuff and combine memorial folders, prayer cards, song inserts and Church Service Folders
- Usher people into service area
- Crowd control and guidance in Lobby/narthex
- Parking lot control and assistance with doors and elevators
- Pass out Service Folders and Music Books
- Start the service in a timely fashion
- Video Tape the Service
- Run sound equipment when needed
- Dismiss and usher out the service attendees
- Direction to reception area
- Move all photos, videos and personal memorabilia to reception area
- Collect, sort, deliver and process contribution envelopes to proper locations.
- Clean up and reset all church/facility furniture and equipment to original setup
- Deliver all photos, videos and personal memorabilia to residence following activities