A Statement on Memorial Services/Funerals Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren Elgin, Illinois At the heart of our faith as members of the Church of the Brethren is a conviction that all of life is a gift from God and is to be lived to the fullest. Death is a part of every life, and therefore we encourage individuals and families in the church community to give attention to ways in which the faith and values they hold in life might be reflected as well in the rites and ceremonies marking their death. We encourage individuals and families to face honestly and forthrightly the reality of death, remembering, again, that our primary intention is to live this life well—to leave a legacy of spiritual openness, compassionate service, grace-filled relationships, and commitment to Christ’s way of peaceful living. When we live well, we will also die well, placing our trust in the promise that death is a doorway to another level of living. Grief is experienced in many different ways, and services of remembrance should include opportunity both for celebration of the life and faith of the person who has died, as well as expression of grief and loss. Death provides occasion for serious soul-searching, a time for reflecting on the meaning of life and faith, and a time for renewing our intention to live this life well. Memorial services or funerals are held in the context of the faith community, and enable persons to draw upon the strength and resources of our faith, as well as the support and encouragement of one another. The 1996 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statement on End-of-Life Decision Making lists the following guiding Christian principles:  Life is a gift of God, to be lived with thanksgiving.  Physical death, the natural and inevitable end of physical life, is a mystery.  The integrity of the processes of life that God has created is to be respected; birth and death are a part of these processes.  Biblical faith directs us to claim the love and power of God in our living, our dying, and our anticipation of life after death.  Spiritual growth can come from facing suffering and death honestly.  The support of the church strengthens the Christian hope of those facing death or bereavement. The exact timing and circumstances of death are not in our hands. Some face protracted illnesses, while others die suddenly and unexpectedly. Yet, in whatever manner death comes our way, it is an experience none of us escapes. Therefore, we urge members and friends of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren to give intentional thought to the services they envision at the time of their death, and invite each of you to consider the following: 1. Determine your preference for cremation or traditional burial of the body. In recent years, many have chosen cremation rather than traditional burial, for spiritual, environmental, and financial reasons. In addition, cremation allows for greater flexibility in the scheduling of the memorial service. If cremation is chosen, you have the option of using the Peace Memorial Garden at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren. It provides a place for interment of ashes as well as a quiet place for reflection, remembrance, and meditation. An engraved brick bearing the name of the deceased, and his/her birth and death dates, is placed in the Garden. Even if you choose burial in a cemetery, you and/or your family may choose to have an engraved brick placed in the Peace Memorial Garden. 2. Determine your preference for memorial service or funeral. Increasingly, members at Highland Avenue choose the option of a memorial service, offering greater flexibility with scheduling and placing focus upon a celebration of life. Either way, we encourage families to hold their services of remembrance in the church sanctuary. If the body is present for viewing prior to the funeral service, we suggest placing it in the church lounge; at the conclusion of the time of viewing, and prior to the service, the family can have some quiet and prayerful moments together as the casket is closed. Some families choose to have a private burial prior to the funeral service. The focus for either service is not on the physical body, but on the faith that sustains us in the face of death. 3. Consult with the pastors, as needed. The pastors are available to assist you in considering options and making plans, so that the service reflects your faith and the values you hold dear. 4. Plan in advance the nature of you

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