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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 author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.