The Funeral Rites of the Baptist Church

by M-Gillies
The First Baptist Church in America founded in 1638 is still in use today.

The First Baptist Church in America was founded in 1638 in Providence, Rhode Island.

With a belief that Jesus was the Son of God who came to Earth to teach through his actions and lessons, Baptists follow the Christian Bible and strive to attain a place in Heaven. Though there are many branches of the Baptist faith, the religion was first founded in England during the 17th century by John Smyth and generally falls into one of two groups known either as the General or the Particular.

With two schools of thought regarding afterlife, the Baptist Church teaches that the soul of the redeemed passes immediately into the presence of Christ, and that physical death involves no loss of consciousness as the soul separates from the body. However, at a funeral ceremony for those who have died, the service is open to all faiths to participate.

Viewings are common at Baptist funerals with pastors encouraging viewings being held at the Church sanctuary. These may take place either prior to the funeral service or as a closing to the funeral service. Nevertheless, funeral and memorial services within a Baptist funeral are considered personal, uplifting, meaningful and comforting ceremonies.

Often times, a family is given a choice of three major types of services which include a small private service; a regular service at the funeral home, chapel or church; or a committal service at the graveside.

As part of personalizing the funeral to accommodate the family, the pastor will take suggestions regarding eulogies, readings, singers and special prayers to incorporate into the service. When the service takes place, the pastor will begin by welcoming those who are present and speaking a few words about the deceased, followed by scripture readings.

To accommodate the diversity of ethnicity, many African American traditions have been incorporated into the Baptist funeral which sees the inclusion of “Flower Girls” (the female counterpart of pallbearers who give special attention to the closest family members); “Nurses” (women in white dresses who care for those overcome with grief); solos, choir renditions and other musical offerings to be sung; a reception line for mourners; and a large elaborate ceremony and reception following the burial.

Photo by Infrogmation


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