Proper Resolution and Acknowledgment Etiquette at Homegoings (Funerals)
As a homegoing (funeral) officiant or minister, you may be asked to take on the very important assignment of reading the resolution and or acknowledgments at a homegoing service. Often times, there is uncertainty about how many resolutions, cards, or acknowledgements to read. Therefore, we want to provide a few etiquette tips to assist you so that you can successfully fulfill this task respectfully and efficiently. Please consider the following tips below.
1. Always seek to discover the preference of the grieving family if possible. - Often times, many families would prefer not to have a long drawn out homegoing, especially in the instances of unexpected or tragic death circumstances. Therefore, if at all possible, if the hosting church has a liaison that is communicating the wishes of the family, connect with that individual to try to understand the length of time the family would like to observe for the reading of resolutions, sympathy cards, family letters, etc. In the case of multiple resolutions being received, seek to find out the family's (chief mourner/primary beneficiary) preference of which ones they would prefer read and in what priority. What you may think should rightfully be the priority may be different as it pertains to the deceased's surviving family member(s) wishes.
2. Resolutions: Consider reading only two or less resolutions; read the resolutions in the correct priority. - Often times, if the deceased was a member or affiliate of multiple churches, multiple resolutions may be received. It is very important, especially if time constraints have been requested by the family to use wisdom in reading the resolutions.
- Therefore, as a standard rule of thumb, unless requested otherwise by the family or chief officiant, limit the number of resolutions read to two or less.
- In the case of multiple resolutions, unless requested otherwise by the family, you would read the resolution from the very first church the deceased with affiliated with first.
- The last resolution read would be from the final church the deceased was a member of and would be acknowledged as the "membership church" resolution.
- After two resolutions have been read, any other resolutions should be acknowledged by simply stating that "other resolutions were received and are now acknowledged from the following churches..." You would then read the name of the church, the city of the church, and the Sr. Pastor of the church, and nothing further.
- If you are the church clerk or acting in that capacity, ensure the family receives copies of all resolutions read or acknowledged.
3. Sympathy Cards: Consider reading only two sympathy cards and acknowledging the rest.
- Just as with the resolutions, if at all possible, endeavor to find out if the family (primary mourner/beneficiary) has received any specific cards they would like read. If so, read those cards regardless of the number.
- However, if the family does not have a preference, then limit the amount of cards read to two or less. Try to pick the most encouraging cards, or those from special loved ones that would be an encouragement to the family.
- After two cards have been read, simply state, "This family is well beloved by many and has received numerous other cards and sentiments that will be read and acknowledged by the family privately."
4. Closing remarks: When concluding this task, once again acknowledge the family by stating a brief comforting or encouraging sentiment such as: "To the family, we know your loss is deep and your sorrow is great, and although we share in your sorrow, we pray and know that God's everlasting love and peace will comfort your heart during this time."