A funeral resolution is a type of tribute to the deceased that is delivered as a speech, typically in church, about the deceased's relationship with God. This type of speech warrants a serious tone and is usually delivered by a member of the clergy or pastoral staff. Each church will have specific formatting instructions although the general guidelines are similar.
Eulogy vs Funeral Resolution
Funeral resolutions are often confused with eulogies as they are both typically read at funerals. A eulogy is much more light-hearted and typically involves stories, anecdotes, and memories of life with the deceased. This type of speech is usually written and read by a close friend or family member.
A funeral resolution on the other hand, is serious in tone, follows a specific format and becomes official church documents that will be saved in the church's archives. Funeral resolutions are typically for members of a church, however, many large organizations and companies choose to honor members and employees with funeral resolutions as a way of expressing gratitude and acknowledging service.
You will likely need to meet with close family members and church members to obtain all the information required to write the funeral resolution. To begin, it may be helpful to view an example of a funeral resolution. The general steps toward writing a proper funeral resolution are:
- Contact the church/organization for specific formatting guidelines as well as information on who to contact for questions about the deceased.
- Look at a few examples of funeral resolutions for deceased members of the same church or organization.
- Set up an interview with the person designated by the family to obtain all the background information.
- Once you've obtained all the information you can begin working on each piece of the resolution.
- Submit the funeral resolution to the church or organization as well as a copy to the family of the deceased.
Parts of a Funeral Resolution
Funeral resolutions usually consist of five parts and should not be longer than two pages. You will need to include a title, introduction, whereas statements, resolutions, and the official statement.
The title of the resolution is typically centered at the top of the first page, consists of one line, and includes the full name of the deceased. Phrases such as 'Resolution of Respect' or 'Resolution in Loving Memory' followed by the name of the deceased are common titles.
Example: Resolution of Respect for Dr. Ann Marie Smith
The introduction, like the title, is made up of one line. This section is also commonly referred to as the Introduction of Faith. The purpose here is to acknowledge the deceased's close relationship with God as well as his or her passing. Some people choose to include a funeral poem or passage from the Bible in this section as well. A few questions to ask before writing the introduction are:
- What was the deceased's relationship with God like?
- Did the deceased have a favorite Bible verse?
When writing the introduction, you should use eloquent language to convey that the deceased is now with God.
Example: Almighty God has chosen, with His infinite wisdom, to call our beloved Dr. Ann Marie Smith to join Him in heaven. Mark 10:14 says, 'Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.'
This section explains the reasons for the funeral resolution. The name of the section comes from the fact that all the statements included should begin with the word 'whereas.' The American Library Association points out that these statements are not a biography and typically do not include any specific dates. Some questions to ask before writing include:
How many years was the deceased an active member of this church (or organization)?
What is the legal name of the church?
Were there any specific programs or projects with which the deceased worked closely within this church?
Was the deceased married at the time of death, or did he or she have a significant partner at the time?
How was the deceased beloved by the community?
What were the most significant accomplishments of his or her life?
Each statement should explain one of the following:
- The deceased's relationship with God
- Specific work for the church (such as a particular program)
- Support to the family
- How the deceased was loved by the community
Breakdown of Statements
The ALA suggests the following breakdown of statements:
One about general loss to a specific organization or church.Example: Whereas the United Church of Town lost a valuable member in the death of Ann Smith, she will be remembered fondly for all time.
One or more regarding particular interests in that community.Example: Whereas Ann Smith was a beloved Bible study and youth group leader for 15 years.
One or more briefly describing long-term or significant employment (including number of years of service).Example: Whereas countless students were inspired by her community service projects as the Home Economics teacher for 25 years.
One or more about local activities and interests not related to the church or organization.
End with one statement detailing positive personal characteristics of the deceased, using his or her full name.Example: Whereas the kindness, empathy, humor, and hospitality of Ann Marie Smith enhanced the lives of all fortunate enough to know her.
This section is also sometimes referred to as 'Therefore Statements' because they generally begin with the words, 'Therefore let it be resolved...'. The resolutions section should be shorter than the whereas statements, with one or two lines as the standard. Resolutions offer details as to who will be involved and how, when, or where. It is best to ask church officials or family members in what way they would like the congregation to resolve the death of the deceased.
Resolutions may include acts such as an observed period of mourning or the displaying of the deceased's picture. Organizations, like ALA, suggest that the first resolution should recognize the deceased's contributions to the organization while the second can express sympathy for the loss.
Example: Therefore be it resolved that we recognize the remarkable achievements of Dr. Ann Marie Smith and show our love and support to the family as we mourn her death together.
Be it further resolved that an official period of mourning be observed for 30 days by the lighting of a candle every day in the church sanctuary in her memory.
The final section of the funeral resolution is also referred to as the Acknowledgment or Proclamation. This is also an appropriate time to include a funeral poem or Scripture. The official statement is meant to bring closure to a person's passing and offer encouragement to the family.
Example: The United Church of Town offers its sincerest condolences to those loved by Dr. Smith. (insert Bible verse or funeral poem)
This statement typically ends with the words, 'humbly (or respectfully) submitted.' The main church officers would then sign the entire document.
Resolving the Death of a Loved One
A funeral resolution is a great way to honor the spiritual life of a beloved community member. If you follow the standard format and guidelines offered by the church you are sure to create a memorable funeral tribute.