Unlike the Episcopalian, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox religions, Baptists generally do not have a formal ritual in a funeral resolution. Each Baptist church generally follows its own customs with wide variation in what is allowed. Although quite conservative, Baptists consider the memorial service to be a religious service.
Most Baptist churches sing traditional songs or hymns during the funeral resolution service, but allow contemporary music, such as country or rock, as long as it is considered religious music. They allow brief eulogies and memorials from family and close friends as long as they focus on the life of the deceased in a religious context. They will also allow brief displays of the deceased’s work or art as long as it is displayed or produced in good taste.
The focus of the Baptist church funeral resolution is redemption and looking forward or forward. Baptists are not concerned with the condition of the body or the physical being, as they are more concerned with the soul and its condition. Is the soul ready to meet its Creator, God? Remembering the deceased’s likes and dislikes and what they liked to do is discussed apart from the funeral service because it is not considered uplifting or redemptive.
Some very conservative Baptists sometimes do not recall a person’s life on earth during the memorial service. Baptists believe that life is a cycle and that in the beginning they were with God and in the end they will return to God. Baptists believe that their lives are not in the physical body, but that their life is in the spirit.
The Baptist service consists of an invocation (a prayer asking for God’s help as part of a religious service), the singing of hymns in which the congregation usually participates, readings from the Scriptures or the Bible, and a praise that is usually pronounced by the Shepherd. Sometimes family and friends are allowed to give a brief word at the memorial service about the faith and character of the deceased.
While Baptist services are generally strict, there is a variety that can be performed within their format. The important role that traditional hymns play means that there are many to choose from that may have evoked strong feelings in those attending the memorial service. The hymns contain powerful words of encouragement and hope for the believer.
Commendations that address the Christian character of the deceased are allowed, and the memorial service can become quite moving as heartfelt memories are shared from close family and friends. Funeral services are generally held in a Baptist church or funeral home with funeral programs arranged to show the order of service and a brief biography of the deceased.