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The Breavement Ministry of Christ Episcopal Church , Las Vegas

BEREAVEMENT MINISTRY of Christ Church, Las Vegas

The Beginning
In September 2001 the Bereavement ministry completed its first year of service to Christ
Church families in their loss of loved ones.  At the initiative of Bonnie Polley, Deacon,
and under the leadership of Marguerite Cole, Deacon, the ministry was formed to provide
a greatly needed function.  Members of the ministry have augmented their preparation
through study and discussion of the burial offices in the Book of Common Prayer and the
exchange of related information gathered from various sources.

The Numbers
The initial six members of the ministry have added nine more members, and more are
welcome.  Since the group came together many families have been assisted.

The Functions
When a death is reported to the church office, a call is made to Marguerite Cole, Director, who in turn notifies each member of the team and, with them, decides who will be assigned to assist the family of the deceased.  Ideally the ministers will work in pairs, but because the group is small, the initial contact made with the bereaved family is often by an individual who keeps in close touch with Marguerite.  She then apprises the other team members of upcoming responsibilities.  By appointment a visit is made to the family during which a two-page form, provided by the church office, is completed.  The time and date of the service is scheduled with the church office first and then with the mortuary.  Scriptures and music are discussed in detail with the family and their selections are made.  Ministry members provide information regarding liturgical customs, the service program, obituary, homily, remembrances, memorials, flowers and optional fees. The family designates and contacts pall bearers when needed.  The ministers work closely with the clergy and staff of Christ Church to make sure the service is supportive, appropriate and comforting.

It is customary and desirable in the Episcopal Church at funerals to have only altar flowers which the family usually provides.  The primary reasons for this custom:  1) It equalizes the worth of the individuals being memorialized and honored (one is not more important than another by the floral tributes presented.)  2) The money invested in floral sprays, which quickly fade, could be put to ongoing productive use in one of the church’s many funds or designated for a charity of the family’s choice (it is a matter of stewardship).  The placement in the church of any floral tributes is at the discretion of the

Clergy and Staff
The family may request but cannot be promised a particular member of the clergy. Availability is the criterion for the assignment of clergy.  Contact is made through the office for an organist, acolytes and ushers.  Requests for unction (last rites) at the time of death, reporting the death of a member of the household, or requests for services for the deceased should be made directly to the Christ Church Office: (702) 735-7655 Ext. 201

Beyond the Service
Frequently a reception is desired following the service and the interment, at which the families can gather with friends, empathize in their sorrow and share a time of refreshment.  The Bereavement Ministers call on other members of the household to provide this kindness and usually participate in the tasks.  However, the receptions are not the primary function of the Bereavement Ministry.  The foregoing and the following are the focus of the group’s energies.  For at least the first year following a death, a bereavement minister stays in touch with the spouse or a key member of the family through periodic phone calls and/or personal contact.  Frequency and duration of contact depends on the extent of the bereaved personal circle of support.

The Future
The Bereavement Ministry will continue its self-education process by inviting persons with expertise in grief counseling to address its monthly meetings, by gathering resources which families of the dying or deceased may need, and by becoming familiar with the policies, facilities, and services of mortuaries in this community.   Parish workshops are offered periodically at which attendees can begin to write their own obituaries and plan the service of celebration to be offered at the time of their transition into Larger Life.

Oh, death, where is your victory?  Oh, grave, where is your sting?

Persons wishing to share in this rewarding ministry may call The Reverend Marguerite
Cole:  home 221-0675, work 735-7655 (M-Th 8:30 AM - 4 PM, F 8:30 - 1:00)