In Your Time of Loss

Death brings loss, sorrow and grief to all. Yet, in the face of death, Christians affirm with tears and joy the hope of the Gospel. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Spirit and the community of faith. The inherent belief in the risen Christ is the cornerstone of a United Methodist service whether it is a funeral service or a memorial service.  Christ is our hope for eternal life, and we offer this hope to the family and friends that their loved one is now in God's eternal charge.

The Care Ministry serves our faith community in a number of ways, not the least of these of which is care before, during, and after the loss of a loved one.  We hope that this information will be a help to you during this time of loss. Planning a service can be a blessing to those in grief offering a time to laugh and to cry as stories are shared and memories are retold.  We are honored to walk along this path with you, your family, and friends during this time.  

Before Death Occurs 
Families considering inurnment in the Columbarium at the church should contact the church secretary for more information.

When Death is Imminent
When a death is imminent, our pastors are honored to come and pray with you.  If there is time, please contact the church at 256-543-8200.  Every effort will be made to come to you for prayer.  

Date, Time and Place of Service
If you wish for one of our pastors to conduct the funeral of your loved one, please contact him or her before you schedule the service. Pastors can assist in planning a meaningful service, including music, scripture, and prayer.   Service may be held at a Funeral Home.  
In addition, funerals and memorial services are often in the Sanctuary of the church.  The Chapel is available for smaller services. There is no charge for the use of the church for a funeral.  However, your funeral home can provide information on the cost of their services for bringing the casket and assisting with a funeral at the church.

Types of Services
A Traditional funeral service (where the casket is present), graveside to follow
A Memorial service (where there is no casket)
A Graveside service only.
A graveside service prior to or following the memorial service.

Making Service Plans

Ordained ministers on staff at the church are available to counsel family members and offer guidance in  planning the service.  Clergy staff will coordinate and lead funerals and memorial services in the church.  Families may request that a guest minister or lay speaker also assist with the service.  In  consultation, with the family of the deceased, First UMC Gadsden's clergy staff will contact and coordinate with the guest pastor or speaker for his or her role in the service.

First UMC Gadsden's music staff will provide and coordinate music for the funeral or memorial services held at the church.  In the event that  our staff is not available, our music director will designate  substitute musicians. There is a preference for live music only  (no recorded music) to be used during the service.  

Ushers and Greeters
For visitations, funeral or memorial services held at the church, ushers and greeters will be provided, subject to availability.

Facilities and Services of the Church
First UMC Gadsden provides to its members, its facilities without charge for the visitation, funeral or memorial service and reception/meal.  The church will provide standard printed worship bulletins to aid the family and congregation in following the funeral or memorial service that is held at the church.  
Security may be required for services held after office hours or on weekends and the cost is an expense of the family.  The church secretary will arrange for and have information on the cost of security, if required.

Guest Registry Books
Guest registry books should be provided by the family and delivered to the church for the ushers to display.

Memorial Photos or Pictorial Video
A table and tablecloth may be provided upon request to display photographs of your loved one at the Visitation.  The family is responsible for this display.
If you choose to show a memorial pictorial video at visitation in the sanctuary, this must be provided in advance to ensure that the format is compatible with our computer software and equipment.  Assistance for producing a Memorial Pictorial Video may be requested in the church office and digital photos (jpeg files) must be provided by the family.  
Guide for a Memorial Pictorial Video:  Select approximately 25 -30 quality photographs featuring your loved one at various life stages and including a range of family and friends. Arrange and label the photographs in chronological order, this will help you decide if there are any omissions in your selection.  For best results, select clear, focused photos and try to avoid using photos of a large group of people.  Pictures that feature and focus on your loved one will work best to share their life story.  

The coffin may be covered with a pall (a large cloth with a cross and other Christian symbolism), an act whose meaning is declared by the words:
"As in baptism Name put on Christ, so in Christ may Name be clothed with glory."
The same pall is used in a congregation for all funerals and is a witness that everyone is equal before the table of the Lord. For each service the pall should be clean and free of wrinkles, and flowers should never be placed on top of it.  Please notify the church office staff or clergy if you would like to use the pall.  The pall may not leave the sanctuary for the graveside service.  Alternatively, the coffin may be covered with a flag which is provided by the family of the deceased.  Flowers should not be placed on either the church pall or the U.S. Flag.  In lieu of the pall or U.S.. Flag  flowers may be placed on the casket.  

Flowers are not a requirement for a service. If family and friends wish to have flowers, they will work directly with their chosen florist. We suggest that arrangements be limited to no more than two at the altar, and these are usually provided by the family or on their behalf; additional arrangements will be placed around the chancel or in the narthex or foyers. Family and friends are urged to take arrangements with them following the service.

The family may plan a time of visitation at the church prior to the funeral memorial service to receive friends.  The parlor or the sanctuary may be used for the visitation. Please be sure to discuss this with the clergy or church secretary so that it may be scheduled.

Reception or Bereavement Meal
A reception or meal for the family may be provided by a Sunday school class, UMW circle or other small group or by the church's Bereavement Team. Please make any requests for a reception or meal in conjunction with the funeral or memorial service through the church secretary.  Please include the number of guests expected.  The church secretary will  coordinate plans with the appropriate group.

Many families wish to give an honorarium for pastors, musicians, or others who assist with the service. The amount of the honorarium is not a set and is solely at the discretion of the family.

Memorial Gifts
Memoriums are a treasured way to offer a remembrance for a friend or family member who has died.  Memorials may be given to First United Methodist Church of Gadsden in memory of a loved one to the general budget or a specific designated fund.  Currently, the following funds are established at First UMC Gadsden:  General Budget, Ladle of Love, Clothes Closet, Music, Howell Erwin Medical Fund, Missions, and Benevolence Fund.  The church staff can provide information regarding any of these areas of special interest in the life of First UMC Gadsden.

The Columbarium

In life, the church is our spiritual home on earth. It is the place where families in Christ worship and have fellowship, where children are baptized and confirmed, and where we celebrate marriages and mourn the loss of our loved ones. For over 150 years, First United Methodist Church of Gadsden has provided these same meaningful services. Located in the Church Courtyard on the northeast side of the church, the Columbarium is a place of peace, comfort, and meditation. The Columbarium offers a practical  way for its members to make pre-death plans. A limited number of niches are available for inurnment.  A pastor or the church secretary can assist you with additional information on the Columbarium.  Call the church office during office hours to speak to the church secretary.  256-543-8200.