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terry's marker

September 17, 2004

My first act as a minister was officiating the funeral service for Terry Haas, my brother. It was perhaps the hardest thing I ever had done.

Rudy Mangrum

It was after I had performed the funeral service for my brother-in-law, Rudy Mangrum, in March of 2006, that I realized that this was a calling and I should give serious thought to being a funeral minister. However, it was after attending a service for a friend of my parents that I finally decided to pursue it. At a reception after the service, a group of people approached me. Having attended the services for both my brother and brother-in-law, this group told me that I should be doing this as a profession because there was a need for my secular service, or a service of limited religious nature.

A secular service is one without religious references, or if the family wishes, one with limited references to the teachings of God. In my service I try to talk to the congregation in language they can understand and appreciate. I talk of death and the grieving process. I talk of the needs of the family and their sorrow. I talk about the deceased's life and what they gave to us, the living. "In a day, month, week, or maybe a year from now, you will all see something, hear something, feel something, or touch something, and you will think of your loved one. Do not be afraid of these moments. These memories are the jewels of your loved one's life that they have left for you. These moments are your loved one's legacy." It is in this way that I communicate to the family and friends of the deceased that what has happened is not the end of our world. That we will carry on, as their loved one would have wanted.

 

A non-denominational service

A non-denominational service is one with religious reference, but without heavy religion bent toward any one faith. I have many quotes that I use from the Bible that are appropriate for such a service.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
-Matthew 5:4,5

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thee going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. 
-Psalm 121:7,8

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. 
-Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,4

These are just a sample of ones that I have used. You may even recognize the last one. It was used in a Bob Dylan song that was sung by the Byrds, " Turn, turn, turn". I have also taken some sayings from the Bible and removed the religious reference for a grave site prayer.

We gathered here are supported by a faith stronger than death,
 Sustained by hope, and proven by nature, that life goes on.

Grant us the strength and courage to embrace our faith
 So that we may see that all of life is as it should be.

We offer _______’s body to this place prepared for it,
That ashes may return to ashes, dust to dust  
and the imperishable spirit may forever be.

Be strong and of good courage; Do not be afraid.

Amen.

I work with the family to find the right fit with the beliefs of the departed and with the family. I would never impose my personal belief system upon them. This is their moment and I am here for them. I have decided that this is what I do well and I am convinced that the need is out there and that I am one who can help these people. Even though I am a minister for the Universal Life Church, part of my duties as a minister is to help those in need. If this means giving services without religion, then it is my duty to do so.

gravesite,

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