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The Pastor's Guide to Weddings and Funerals


When the topic turns to weddings and funerals, most pastors admit to facing a variety of challenges to their ethical standards, creativity, and crisis management skills. Although experience tends to help pastors make better decisions in such sacred but uncertain circumstances, the new pastor who has little or no experience is at a decided disadvantage. This field guide was written to bridge that gap. Author Victor Lehman combines ten years of his own pastoral experience with the insights and observations of his ...
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When the topic turns to weddings and funerals, most pastors admit to facing a variety of challenges to their ethical standards, creativity, and crisis management skills. Although experience tends to help pastors make better decisions in such sacred but uncertain circumstances, the new pastor who has little or no experience is at a decided disadvantage. This field guide was written to bridge that gap. Author Victor Lehman combines ten years of his own pastoral experience with the insights and observations of his colleagues in an effort to put seasoned know-how at the fingertips of ministers struggling with these new and unfamiliar challenges.

The Pastor's Guide to Weddings and Funerals offers both theological perspective and practical ideas -- a combination ideal for helping pastors work through the various ethical dilemmas and major and minor crises that arise when loved ones gather to celebrate or to grieve. This hands-on manual includes helpful checklists and practical resources, including suggested songs and Scriptures, sermon outlines, and sample wedding vows, all of which will help ministers create tailor-made ceremonies and services exacted to the situation at hand.

Included in this valuable volume are actual services for a variety of wedding and funeral settings. These services, along with the book's other helpful checklists and resources, are available on the Judson Press website -- -- for you to download and customize to fit your own needs.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817013929
  • Publisher: Judson Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Pages: 206
  • Sales rank: 801,782
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xvi
Introduction xix
The Challenging Context of Ministry xix
Ethical Guidelines xxi
Ministerial Code of Ethics xxi
Helpful Questions to Ask Regarding a Specific Ethical Issue xxii
Ethical Application xxvi
Part I Weddings
1 Wedding Ethics 2
Ethical Standards for Performing Ceremonies 4
Christian Marrying Christian 4
Christian Marrying Non-Christian 6
Non-Christian Marrying Non-Christian 7
The Underage or Very Young Couple 8
The Couple Already Intimate or Living Together 9
The Couple That Is Expecting a Baby 11
The Couple Whose In-laws Resist the Wedding 12
The Couple in Which One or Both Are Divorced 13
The Couple in Which One or Both Already Have Children 14
The Interracial Couple 15
The Interfaith Couple 17
Marriage of Convenience 17
The Couple Using a Translator 18
Communion in the Wedding Ceremony 18
When the Minister Feels "Talked into" Performing a Wedding 19
Returning to a Former Church to Do a Wedding 20
Pastoral Policy on Premarital Counseling 20
2 Planning the Wedding 23
Elements of the Wedding Ceremony 24
A Service of Worship 24
A Service Descriptive of the Couple 24
Main Ingredients and Optional Styles 25
The Value of a Wedding Coordinator 30
Wedding Settings 31
Church Wedding 32
Outdoor Wedding 34
Home Wedding 35
Private Wedding (Couple and Witnesses Only) 35
The Wedding Rehearsal 35
The Need 36
Who Is in Charge? 36
A Suggested Format 36
Coaching Wedding Ushers 38
The "Moment" Is Almost Here 38
Calming and Supporting the Nervous 38
Last-Minute Details 39
Coping with (and Avoiding) Wedding Bloopers 39
When Someone in the Wedding Party Does Not Show Up 39
When Someone in the Wedding Party Faints 40
When the Flower Girl or Ring Bearer Acts Up 40
When Someone Interrupts the Wedding 41
When a Ring Is Dropped 42
When a Ring Is Missing 42
When the Photographer Is Obnoxious 43
When the Candles Won't Light 43
When the Minister Skips a Part of the Ceremony 44
3 Wedding Resources 46
Introductions to the Ceremony 47
Formal Church Wedding 48
Modified Formal Church Wedding 48
Informal Church Wedding 48
Outdoor Wedding (Couple Living Together) 50
Home Wedding 51
Theme-Oriented Wedding 52
Opening Prayers 52
Thanksgiving for Love 52
Enduring Love 53
Channels of Love 53
Committed Love 54
Supportive Love 54
Concerned Love 55
Presentation of the Bride 55
Traditional 55
Contemporary 56
Presentation of Bride and Groom 56
Appropriate Ceremony Music 56
Congregational Praise Hymns 57
Congregational Praise Choruses 57
Relevant Scripture Passages 58
Old Testament Scriptures 58
New Testament Scriptures 60
Scripture Medley for Antiphonal Reading 62
Alternative Meaningful Paraphrases 63
Sermon Outlines 66
For the Traditional Wedding of a Christian Couple: Ephesians 5:21-33 66
For the God-seeking Couple: 1 Corinthians 13 66
For the Nominal or Non-Christian Couple: Genesis 2:18-24 66
Scripture Medley 67
Suggested Illustrations 67
Commitment 67
Triangle 68
Read the Directions 68
Vows 68
Traditional 69
Updated Traditional 70
Contemporary 71
Exchange of Rings 72
Traditional 73
Contemporary 1 73
Contemporary 2 73
Declaration of Marriage 74
Traditional 74
Modified Traditional 74
Contemporary 75
Prayer of Dedication 75
Traditional 75
Contemporary 1 76
Contemporary 2 77
Signing of the Register (Canadian Ceremonies Only) 77
Public Signing 78
Private Signing 79
Unity Candle Ceremony 79
Traditional Ceremony: Three Candles 79
Another Option: Four Candles 81
Communion 81
The Couple and/or Wedding Party 82
Entire Congregation 82
Introduction of the Newlywed Couple 83
Part II Funerals
4 Funeral Ethics 86
A Theology of Death and Dying 87
The Nature of Life and Death 88
Death as Friend and Foe 89
Death Choices 90
Life after Death 91
Ethical Choices 93
"Doing" the Funeral 94
Stealing Grief 95
Family Secrets 96
Choosing a Casket 97
Jewelry on the Body 97
Memorial Gifts 98
Pastoral Reimbursement 98
Receiving Gifts 99
Weaning Personal Pastoral Care 99
5 Pastoral Preparation for a Funeral
Providing Pastoral Care 101
Respond to the Death (or Dying) Immediately 101
Enter the Deathwatch 102
Help the Survivors Say Good-bye 103
Be Present during the First Visitation with the Body 103
Facilitate the Prayer Service, Wake, or Prayer Vigil 104
Purposes of the Funeral Service 105
Making It Safe for People to Grieve 105
Respectfully Remembering the Deceased 106
Ministering to the Living 107
Showing Respect for the Gospel and Its Truth 107
Helping People Face the Reality of Death and the Hope of Resurrection 108
Focuses for the Funeral Service 108
Life-Oriented 108
Occasion-Oriented 109
Scripture-Oriented 110
Funeral Helps Based on Spiritual Commitment 111
The Committed Christian 111
The Nominal Christian 112
Uncertain Spiritual Commitment 112
The Agnostic 112
The Atheist 113
Additional Ideas for Delicate Funerals 113
Death of a Young Mother or Father 114
Death of a Child 115
Death of a Newborn/Stillborn 115
Death of an Unborn Baby (Miscarriage) 116
Death by Suicide 117
A Violent Death 118
A Sudden or Accidental Death 119
Death after a Prolonged Illness 119
A Double or Multiple Death 120
Death Necessitating a Closed-Casket Funeral 121
Organizing the Funeral Service 122
Funeral Planning Checklist 122
Working with the Funeral Director 123
Legal Documentation 124
Typical Elements in a Funeral Service 124
Personalizing the Funeral Service 125
Burial of the Body, the Final Farewell 127
Graveside Service 127
Entombment in a Mausoleum 129
Cremation 130
Memorial Service Only (No Body) 130
Family Burial 131
6 Funeral Service Resources
Opening Remarks 132
Expected Death 133
Unexpected Death (Christian) 133
Accidental Death 134
Suicide 135
Death of Someone with Questionable Spiritual Commitment 136
Death of Someone with No Spiritual Commitment 137
Prayers of Invocation 139
To the God Who Provides Comfort and Strength 139
To the Triune God Who Restores Life 139
To the Lord Who Gives Eternal Hope and Life 140
To the God Who Strengthens 140
To the God Who Is Present 141
To the God Who Forgives 142
Appropriate Hymns 143
Praise-Oriented 143
Comfort-Oriented 143
Response-Oriented 143
Relevant Funeral Scriptures 144
Traditional Texts of Hope 144
Calling for God's Strength 147
The Comfort We Receive from God 150
The Strength and Peace We Have in Knowing God Personally 151
Scripture Medleys 152
Scripture with Introductory and Transitional Comments 154
Scripture Medley and Corresponding Prayer 156
Transition to the Eulogy 159
Special Note on Eulogies 159
Example of a Tribute 160
Pastoral Prayers of Thanksgiving 161
For Closeness, Community, and Comfort 161
For Justice and Mercy 162
For Quality of Life 162
For Finishing Well 163
For Release from Pain 164
For Strength amid Turmoil 164
For Meaning and Purpose in Life 166
Appropriate Special Music 167
Funeral Address Outlines 167
From Psalm 23 167
From Psalm 39:4-7 168
From John 14:1-7 168
From 1 John 1:1-9 168
From 1 John 1:9 168
Selected Scriptures: Where Is God in This? 168
Benedictions 168
The Committal Service 169
Announcements 169
Scripture Texts for Committal 170
Committal Service Remarks 171
A Committal Prayer 171
Committal Benedictions 171
Appendixes Additional Wedding and Funeral Resources
Author's Permission 174
A Wedding Interview Guide 177
B Procedural Guidance and Information Sheet 179
C Church Wedding Application Form 182
D Wedding Order of Worship Planning Sheet 186
E Wedding Service Format Checklist 188
F Wedding Usher Job Description 193
G Additional Samples of Wedding Vows 194
H Funeral Planning Checklist 201
I General Funeral Details Worksheet 203
J Funeral Service Elements Form 205
Annotated Bibliography 206
Recommended Reading on Ministerial Ethics 206
Recommended Reading on Grief Counseling 206
Other Helpful Minister Manuals 208
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