These are the services held around All Souls’ Day which offer people an opportunity to remember those they love but see no longer, whether the loss is recent or long ago, and to support and maintain contact with bereaved families whether or not they have had a Church of England-led funeral.
Many churches find that ‘Remembering’ services are some of their largest congregations, but with restrictions on physical gatherings, these services will need a different approach during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the good news is that Church of England research indicates that people want and hope to be followed up by the church after a funeral. Here are some ways to help share a message of comfort and hope, even though our usual patterns of worship are different.
Before the service
Whatever form your All Souls’ /All Saints’ service takes, promote it. There are some free resources you can download here to help you do this:
- An e-mailable Information Card, letting people know what is happening for All Souls’ in your parish this year and inviting them to join in. You can use this resource on social media too.
- A free, customisable article for your parish magazine, written especially for families who aren’t used to church, to explain what All Souls’ is, and how they can join in with children too. Open and download it (Word doc) by following this link: Remembering mini article final
- Don’t forget to involve your local Funeral Directors and see if they would like to let their networks know about your All Souls’ plans. Perhaps they might take part in some way?
A service inside church
- You may need to have restricted numbers inside church for a live All Souls’ service. That is ok – simply use your usual system for keeping numbers under control for a safe gathering. See the latest Church of England advice on this.
- To open up the service to more people, consider live streaming or recording it for broadcast later that day. If you’re new to this, you may find it helpful to watch this webinar about live streaming and recording funeral services, as many of the tips and principles are just the same.
- If you simply can’t host a live service, you may consider simply creating a recording of the worship leader(s) delivering the service, ready for broadcast on All Souls’ / All Saints’ Day. You can advertise and invite as many contacts as you like to watch this and you’ll have full control of the broadcast content.
- On All Souls’ Day itself, it may be possible for you to keep the church open for private prayer, so that people can drop in whenever they wish. You will need church wardens or other volunteers to monitor hygiene and social distancing. To help you with this, free posters with QR codes that lead to suitable online prayers can be downloaded here.
Involve the whole congregation in prayers in a personal way, for example:
- A prayer memory box: before the service, in your invitations, suggest people bring a postcard with them – colourful or plain. Then have a fairly large, attractive box ready at the front of the church. Invite people to write a brief ‘memory prayer’ on their postcard to say thank you to God for special memories of a person they are remembering that day – perhaps a particular memory of good times with them, or writing their name on the card simply to remember their whole unique life – and place it in the box. Some suitable music could be played while people bring their cards to ‘post’ in the box. As an alternative to the box, cards could also be pinned onto a display board instead. This idea can be used during a service, or as a way for people to remember throughout the day by dropping into the open church.
Using your outside space
If welcoming people inside the church isn’t possible, consider whether there is anything you can do outside.
For example, you might create an outdoor space where people can come and remember, perhaps by bringing a small pebble to represent the person they loved, and then leaving it around a ‘memory tree’ or in another special part of the outdoor space. You might create a laminated prayer to pin up near this space, to help people spend a few moments remembering with God alongside them.
Ways to involve people at home
- If people can’t come to a physical service, they may be able to watch the service online if it’s live-streamed or recorded.
- You might like to distribute a Prayer Postcard that people can use at home to take a moment to remember someone. This one on the Church Print Hub has a forget-me-not design and a simple prayer on the back to help.
- People can also use the online light-a-candle tool to remember someone at any time of the year.
Life Events Diary account-holders
If you have a Life Events Diary (LED) account, then making contact with large numbers of people to tell them about All Souls’ is made easier. If you don’t have an account and would like to know how it could help, visit the website, just here: https://www.lifeeventsdiary.org/.