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Horse drawn hearse outside aston parish church

It is inevitable that death touches all of us, and the Church has an important place in supporting people through this difficult time. A funeral marks the close of a human life on earth. As well as being a time to say goodbye to our loved ones and express our grief, it is also the opportunity for friends and family to celebrate and give thanks for the life that has ended and commend the person into God’s keeping. We can also thank God that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus – death need not have the final word and that eternal life is available to us all.

Common questions

  1. Where can a funeral service be held?
  2. What are the advantages of having the funeral in church?
  3. Do you have to live in the parish to have a funeral in church?
  4. Can people still be buried in the churchyard?
  5. What about ashes – can they be buried in the churchyard?
  6. How do I arrange a funeral?
  7. What arrangements can I make now for my own funeral?
  8. What does it cost?
  9. Where can I find more information?

Q: Where can a funeral service be held?

A. Funeral services can take place in any of our three churches. They may also take place in the chapels at the local authority’s crematoria and cemeteries. The clergy are happy to officiate at funerals in any of these places.

Q: What are the advantages of having a funeral in church?

A. A service at a local crematorium / cemetery chapel is normally restricted to a maximum time of 20 minutes. Many people feel this provides insufficient time, and also leads to the whole service feeling rushed. By coming into church prior to the committal service there is a greater opportunity to commemorate your loved one’s life more fully, as we can agree a length of time for the service which fits your requirements.

Another practical advantage is the larger size of a church compared to most crematorium / cemetery chapels. If you are expecting many mourners to the funeral, we are able to accommodate a much larger congregation (up to 500 at Aston Parish Church – more with audio overflow to the Church Centre – and up to 250 at St Matthew’s Church and 150 at St James Church).

Funeral in crowded church

People from some cultures also appreciate the opportunity to open the coffin during the service so that the mourners can file past and pay their last respects to the person who has died. This is not permitted in the local crematoria and cemetery chapels, but can take place in church.

Finally Aston Parish Church and St Matthew’s Church are both equipped with data projectors. Increasingly, families are making use of these to project pictures during the service which help them in remembering the life of their loved one and the times that they have shared together.

Q: Do you have to live in the parish to have a funeral in church?

A. People who live in the parish have a right to have their funeral at one of the churches in the parish, even if they have not been a church-goer during their life. It is also our policy that, wherever possible, we accommodate requests for funerals of people for whom our churches, or the communities of Aston or Nechells, have played a significant part of their lives.

Q: Can people still be buried in the churchyard?

A. No. The churchyards at Aston Parish Church and St Matthew’s have both been used for burials in the past. Both are now full, however, and no burials have taken place for many years. Burials now take place in the local authority cemeteries. The nearest to Aston and Nechells is Witton Cemetery

Q: What about ashes – can they be buried in the churchyard?

A. There is a Garden of Remembrance for cremated remains at Aston Parish Church. Although the churchyard is closed to new burials, in certain circumstances, permission can be granted for the ashes of those who have died to be buried in the Garden. Normally, however, this is only granted where there has been a strong connection with the church. To enquire about this, please contact one of the clergy.

Q: How do I arrange a funeral?

A. You will need to speak to one of the clergy. You will also need to appoint a funeral director and very often they will liaise with the clergy on your behalf to agree the date and time of the funeral. If you want a particular person from the clergy team to take the service, this should be done before any other funeral arrangements are made to make sure they are available. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter whether you speak to the clergy or the funeral director first – for many people it is a matter of starting with what they feel they can cope with first.

The clergy see the taking of funerals and the comforting of those who mourn as important parts of their work. They give a lot of time to visiting families, comforting those who are facing loss, finding out what they want included in the funeral service and helping them to arrange it. To arrange the details of the service, the clergy will make an appointment to meet up with you. If they did not know the dead person, then they will ask you to provide details.

The funeral director plays a very important part in all these arrangements and will want to know if the funeral is to be in one of our church or if the clergy are to take the service in the crematorium. Funeral directors know the local clergy, the local cemeteries and the crematoria. As part of a national network of funeral directors, they can, if necessary, give advice on funerals in other parts of the country, as well as on costs and fees.

Q: What arrangements can I make now for my own funeral?

A. It may feel somewhat strange to make plans for your death, but it is very wise and sensible to realise that it will come one day and be ready in every way for when it happens. In particular, it is essential to make sure we have taken hold of the promises that Jesus makes about eternal life and live our lives in such a way that we are ready to stand before God. It is also helpful to have made known your wishes about your funeral.

The clergy are available to discuss your requirements and can file them away for the time they are needed. Also, most funeral directors offer schemes whereby you can arrange and pay for your funeral now, thereby removing some of the worries from those left behind.

Q: What does it cost?

A. Most of the costs of the funeral will be incurred with the funeral director. There are separate fees for the church, but these are normally settled by the funeral director on your behalf and then passed on to you.

The church fees below are for 2015. They are set annually by the Central Church authorities and our Church Council and go towards the church upkeep and ministerial fees. The fees vary for each church and there will be a small increase in fees each year.

Service Aston Parish Church St Matthew’s Church St James Church
Service £219 £219 £219
†Organist and use of organ £120 £105 £105
†Verger (to open and clear up) £35 £35 £35
AVA Operator (and use of data projection or sound system) £75 £75 £75
†Heating £100 £70 £70
Total £549 £504 £504

† These fees are optional and increase by one-third for services over 45 minutes and two-thirds for fees over 1 ¼ hours.

The fee is reduced by £26 if the funeral service in church does not follow, or isn’t followed by, a burial in a cemetery or cremation.

A nationally set charge applies for the burial of cremated remains in the Garden of Remembrance. For 2015, this is £148.

Q: Where can I find more information?

A. The main Church of England website gives some general information on funerals, as well as a very helpful CofE funeral FAQ. The Diocese of Birmingham website also gives some very helpful information on hymns and music for the service.