Protestant funerals

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Protestantism is a school of thought within Christianity. Protestants do not use specific rituals for funerals. Taking care of each other, looking after each other: that is what it is all about. At the deathbed, the pastor can offer spiritual support, but there is also an important role for family, friends and church members.

Church or auditorium?

Usually, a funeral service is organized in the auditorium of a funeral home. On request, church funerals are held, after which the deceased is taken to the final resting place. Until the early 1960s, pastors in the Reformed Church preached that burial should be seen as the only suitable form for a funeral. Today, most believers make the choice themselves whether they want to be buried or cremated. What plays a role in this is that, in Protestantism, the physical body is seen as a shell: after death the soul leaves the body and ascends to heaven. Yet conservative Protestants will still disapprove of cremation, believing that the deceased will rise from the dead on Judgement Day.

“The physical body is seen as a shell: after death the soul leaves the body and ascends to heaven”

New symbols

Meaning has always been central in the Protestant church. This means that in church services, a great deal of attention is paid to the spoken word. The church is usually austerely decorated, the crosses are ‘bare’ and the coffin is generally simple and undecorated. Pastors and believers today are looking for new forms and symbols for funerals. This could include choosing texts to be spoken during the service, lighting a candle, opening the Bible on the coffin or using flowers. Personal conversations partly replace rituals, so that relatives can express their emotions.

“Pastors and believers are now looking for new forms and symbols for funerals”

Plenty of room for the next of kin

Because the Protestant church has no binding regulations for funerals, there is a lot of room for the next of kin to design the funeral. In a Protestant Christian funeral service, mentioning the name of the deceased is central. The name with which the deceased was baptized is surrendered to God, who safeguards the name. The next of kin also remember that name. In the funeral service, the pastor examines the life of the deceased, making use of Bible texts.


At the grave, the pastor says a prayer to entrust the deceased to the earth. When the coffin has been lowered, the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is prayed, and the blessing is given. Sometimes, there is an opportunity to sprinkle some dirt on the coffin. In the case of a cremation, the pastor will say the prayer in the funeral home. The Protestant congregation commemorates a deceased congregation member during the church service on the first Sunday after the death. Once a year, the names of all the deceased are mentioned in a service.

PC Uitvaart has a great deal of experience in arranging Protestant funerals. If you would like to know more, please contact us using the form below.

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