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What is a Committal Service?

A committal service is a brief ritual involving prayer at the graveside following the funeral. Members of the immediate family and close friends of the deceased gather as the closed casket is lowered into the ground. Sometimes a family member will shovel the first dirt onto the casket. Family members and friends may throw flowers into the grave.

As earth is symbolically cast on the coffin, the minister says the following prayer:

In sure and certain hope of the resurrection into eternal life,
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
we commend to almighty God our brother/sister (Name),
and we commit his/her body to the ground,
earch to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord,
They rest from their labors,
and their works follow them.

The brief service may also include opening sentences, the Lord's Prayer, and an additional blessing and benediction.

For more on planning a funeral or memorial service.

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
  CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here.
God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion:
Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.  

For more information about Charles Henderson.