Memorial Services at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church
One of Emerson’s most important ministries is honoring and celebrating the lives of those who have died. Our congregation offers the church for services for congregation members and friends, as well as family and friends of church members. The following description is intended to provide information to both members and non-members on the facilities and services that can be offered for a memorial service held at Emerson.
Emerson’s Memorial Service coordinator oversees the facilities and coordinates the logistical arrangements for services. The Memorial Service Coordinator and all other volunteers who help with services offer their assistance as a lay ministry to the church. Because much of the work is done by this small group of volunteers, Emerson is unable to do everything that may be requested for a memorial service, but the Memorial Service Coordinator will work with you, your family, and the Minister to help create a rich and meaningful experience.
While memorial services can be held on any day of the week, the services listed in this guide can generally be provided only for a service that is scheduled on a Saturday or Sunday. A reception at Emerson following the service cannot be offered on a weekday.
Use of Emerson’s building and grounds is free of charge for memorial services for church members. For pledging friends and other non-members, our facilities are offered as outlined in the fee schedule at the end of this guide.
Emerson’s sanctuary seats 120 people. A small enclosed pavilion of approximately 480 sq. ft. (24 x 20 ft.) is adjacent to the sanctuary, and can be used for an informal reception following the service.
On weekends, Emerson’s parking lot of 8 spaces + 1 disabled-accessible space can be used, as well as unrestricted street parking. During the week, the lot is not available, and street parking is subject to city street cleaning schedules.
The Memorial Service Coordinator or another volunteer will be available at the church two to three hours before the service to prepare the facility and accept florist and food deliveries, if needed.
If you wish to have flowers at the service, please make your own arrangements to bring or have them delivered before the service, and please plan to take them with you afterwards. Because Emerson does not have a sexton to take care of floral arrangements on Sundays, any flowers that are left behind will be discarded.
Planning the service
Our minister will work with you to plan all elements of the service. Our minister’s services are offered free of charge for memorial services for church members; please speak with him regarding his fees for memorial services for non-members.
The minister will guide the congregation through the hymns, readings, and reflections offered during the service, so a printed order of service is not required; however, many families like to offer one as a memento, perhaps with a photograph of the deceased, a favorite quote, and/or a list of charities to which donations in the person’s memory can be made. If you wish to provide an order of service, please make your own arrangements for producing and copying it, and please consult with the Memorial Service Coordinator as to how many copies to have made – most families underestimate the number of people who will attend a service.
Music and audio-visual services
Live piano music and/or accompaniment to hymns can be offered, subject to the scheduling and fees of Emerson’s accompanist. Please discuss this with our minister as you plan the service.
If you wish to play recorded music, Emerson’s sound system can be used to play cassettes, or to record the service on audio cassette, if requested. We do not have any capability to play CDs; if you wish to play CD or MP3 recordings, please plan to bring your own player. The acoustics in the sanctuary are quite good, so a small boombox-type player is sufficient.
Emerson does not have any other audio or audio-visual capabilities. If you wish to include a slide or video presentation of any kind during or after the service, please make your own arrangements to provide and operate the necessary equipment.
Before the service
Many family members and friends who attend a memorial service may be unfamiliar with Emerson, and may have traveled a great distance, so hospitality is especially important. The welcome desk in the foyer will be staffed by a volunteer to greet people as they arrive, and invite them to sign a guest book, which you may take home with you after the service. Several ushers will also be available in the foyer and sanctuary to help everyone find their way around.
Unfortunately, we do not have the staff to provide childcare during memorial services. Children are welcome to attend the service with their parents, and our foyer is connected to the sanctuary by glass windows and wired into the sound system, so that parents can see and hear the service if their child needs to leave the sanctuary at any time.
Some families choose to hold a reception following the service, either at their home or at the church. If you wish to hold a reception at Emerson, we can provide setup and cleanup for an appetizer-style reception only; Emerson does not have the space for sit-down or full-meal service.
Volunteers can provide punch and cookies, as well as paper goods, for the reception. If you wish to provide other types of food, please make arrangements to bring it or have it delivered; a volunteer can be available to receive food deliveries either before or during the service.
If served, alcohol must be served in accordance with Emerson’s alcohol policy, a copy of which can be provided; if you wish to consider serving alcohol, please consult with the Memorial Service Coordinator at least one week prior to the service.
Many families wish to display photographs or other mementos; one eight-foot table can be set up in the pavilion during the reception for this purpose.
For a standard memorial service and reception (up to 4 hours of total building use), Emerson charges the following fees:
Church members – no charge
Pledging friends – $150
Non-members – $300
As noted above, additional fees may apply to compensate the minister and an accompanist, if requested.