Scheduling a Baptism, Wedding, Funeral

Baptisms:

It is one of the great joys of the church to celebrate the sacrament of baptism.   We baptize both infants and adults.

Baptism is normally performed during a Sunday morning church service, but, in special circumstances, private baptisms can be arranged with our minister.

We believe that baptism is “an visible sign of an invisible event.”  Through baptism, we share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and welcomed into Christ’s church.  Through water, God frees the one being baptized from the powers of sin and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide them on their journey of faith.

When baptizing infants, the parents of the child promises to raise the child in the Christian faith, until the time he or she can be responsible for their own faith journey.  The congregation also makes promises to assist these parents in their vows, providing an atmosphere of Christian nurture and growth for the child.

If the parents are not active members of the church, the pastor asks to meet with the parents to familiarize them with  the church’s understanding of baptism and to go over the actual service, including the promises they will be making on behalf of their child.  Parents are invited to join in the worship and life of the church before the baptism.

The Pastor never accepts a fee for performing a baptism.

Weddings:

Our wedding ministry at First Church is part of our vision to support and nurture families.  It is with great joy that we offer this vital ministry to both members and non-members.  To help couples out, we offer the following guidelines:

SETTING THE DATE – Please contact the church as soon as you have chosen the date and time for your wedding.  In fairness to the church and the pastors, if your wedding plans change, please let the church know as soon as possible.

MEETING WITH THE MINISTER – It is your responsibility to schedule an appointment with the minister about four to six months before your wedding.  The minister will want to meet with you two or more times to talk about marriage and to help you plan the ceremony.

THE REHEARSAL – A date and time for the wedding rehearsal will be set when you meet with the minister.  The rehearsal takes about 30 minutes.  Please be sure that your entire wedding party is on time for the rehearsal.

SANCTUARY – The Sanctuary can hold up to 175 guests comfortably.  It has one center aisle and an excellent organ.

ADDITIONAL CLERGY – We assume that the church’s minister will officiate at your wedding.  If you wish to have other clergy participate, you may discuss this with the minister before or during your first appointment.  We are very open to having other clergy share in the wedding ceremony.  The church no longer permits weddings without our minister being involved.

MUSIC – The church Music Director will be happy to discuss the music for your wedding ceremony with you.  It is your responsibility to contact the Music Director several weeks in advance of the ceremony if you have special requests for music.  Our Music Director plays for all services at First Church, Bedford unless other arrangements are made with the organist in advance.

SOLOISTS, ETC. – Soloists and special musicians (brass, flute, harp, strings, etc.) are welcome.  If you have arranged for you own soloist, he/she should contact our Music Director.  The church does not set fees for the soloists and the musicians that you provide.  Please make your own arrangements with them.

PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY – Please ask your photographer or videographer to check with the minister about the church’s guidelines.  Our simple request is that they do not distract from the ceremony in any way.

OTHER DETAILS –

Unity Candle – If you wish to include a Unity Candle in the wedding, it is your responsibility to provide one.

Aisle Runners – If you want an aisle runner, you or your florist must provide one.  The sanctuary requires a 75’ runner.

Receiving Line – You may have your wedding receiving line at the church if there is not another wedding immediately following your ceremony.

Formal Picture – You may use the church for formal photography before or after your ceremony.

Please The church is  a “smoke-free” environment.  In addition, alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the church premises.

MARRIAGE LICENSE – You must have a marriage license to be married.  You may obtain a license from any city or town hall in the Commonwealth.  Both the bride and the groom must be present.  The license, once you get it, is good for 60 days.  It best to bring the marriage license with you on the evening of your rehearsal or before.  The minister cannot perform the marriage without it. After the wedding, the minister will sign and mail the license to the town or city hall. You will not automatically receive an official copy of your Certificate of Marriage. You must apply for this with the Town Clerk or City Clerk where you applied for your license. There is usually a nominal charge (about $10 to $15, varying by town) for each copy.

FEES FOR WEDDINGS – The fees for weddings First Church, Bedford are established by the Church Cabinet.  The fees are:

For active church members and their families:
Church:  $100  Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, kitchen (if necessary)
Pastor:     $250  includes ceremony, rehearsal and two meetings with the couple.
Organist: $200 includes ceremony and rehearsal
Sexton      $ 50

For all others:
Church:  $200  Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, kitchen (if necessary)
Pastor:     $350  includes ceremony, rehearsal and two meetings with the couple.
Organist:  $250  includes ceremony and rehearsal
Sexton:      $ 50

Please Note:

*  The above fees do not include soloists or special musicians, who typically charge between $100 and $200.
*  One check made be issued and given to the Pastor on or before the rehearsal.
*  For a very simple wedding or in special circumstances, these fees are negotiable.

Funerals

The comfort of those who mourn and the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ are important component of the ministry of First Church, Bedford.  We make every effort to provide a meaningful service of remembrance and hope for your loved one and to provide you with the care and comfort that helps you through the mourning process.

CALLING THE PASTOR When there is a death in your family, please call the Church as soon as possible.  The Pastor wants to be notified so that he may provide the appropriate pastoral care.  He may be reached at (781) 275-7951.  The Pastor is also prepared and willing to provide continuing pastoral care after the service.  Many people have found that during the days and weeks following the service, when the shock of death has gradually worn away, that the grief and the loss are most deeply felt.  It was at this time that pastoral care and personal counseling was found to be most essential and helpful.

SERVICE Generally, funerals are considered a service of witness to the resurrection and of celebration and remembrance of a person’s life.  It is a service in which we gather to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel and claim the promises of God through Christ for our loved one.  We also gather to thank God for the life of one who has touched our lives in many ways.  Naturally, we cannot avoid the sense of tragedy and loss, and a funeral is a time to lift up our sadness and grief to God.  Yet, as St. Paul writes to those who grieve in I Thessalonians, Christians “grieve with hope.”

SERVICE OUTLINE In general, the funeral or memorial service includes: An Opening Sentence of Scripture, a Greeting, an Opening Prayer, the Reading of Scripture, The Sermon and Eulogy, a Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession and a Benediction.   Although not necessary, hymns are often sung during the service.  The service can also include a prelude and postlude, a time for special music, or anything else that would make the service more comforting or meaningful.

EULOGY In general, we never expect a family member or friend to offer a eulogy for their loved one.  Often the grief experienced during the service prevents them from speaking.  The Pastor is always prepared to act as “your voice” – to take the memories and reflections you offer him, and create a meaningful and appropriate eulogy.  There are instances, however, where friends or family members have a strong desire to offer words of remembrance.  We welcome these reflections during the service.

SPECIAL READINGS, SCRIPTURE OR HYMNS The Pastor is ready to offer suggestions for appropriate scripture and hymns.  If your loved one had a favorite scripture, hymn or poem, we are certainly willing to place them in the service.

MUSIC When the service is held in the church, it is customary for the church music director to play.  When possible, she will be glad to play special music.  She is also available to consult with you on appropriate music.  Soloists or special musicians are also welcome.  If you have arranged for your own soloist, he/she should contact our music director.  The church does not set fees for the soloists and the musicians you provide.  Make sure you make arrangements with them directly.

COLLATIONS/RECEPTIONS It is the policy of First Church, Bedford to offer receptions in our Fellowship Hall for Church members and their family.  We will be happy to coordinate food and set-up in these instances.  It is most helpful to let us know what type of reception you are planning as soon as possible.  Others are welcomed to use Fellowship Hall for receptions afterwards, but must provide their own refreshments.

MEMORIAL FUND There is an increasing number of people who feel that rather than have an abundance of flowers, a contribution to the Memorial Fund of the Church would provide a more fitting memorial.  We welcome any donations to this fund, and we are ready to accept the donations and offer notes of thanks.  Checks should be made out to “FCCC, Bedford.”  We also welcome larger bequests to the Church’s endowment fund.

HONORARIA For active members of the Church, there is never any charge for the use of the Church.  The Pastor also believes that officiating at funerals is part of his ministry to Church members, and does not expect an honorarium.

As the Organist and the Sexton are not full-time members of the staff, it is the policy of the Church that they receive an honorarium for their services.  Often this is arranged with the funeral director.  If this is not the case, the following schedule of honoraria have been established by the Church Cabinet:

For active members of First Church, Bedford and their families:
Church –          N/A
Pastor –          N/A
Organist –       $125
Sexton –         $ 50
 
For all others:
Church –          $200
Pastor –          $250
Organist –        $200
Sexton –          $ 50

Please Note:

  • The above fees do not include soloists or special musicians
  • Individual checks should be payable to the Church, Pastor, Organist and Sexton.
  • For a very simple funeral or in special circumstances, the fees are negotiable.

This information is provided for you to make the best decisions when thinking of a funeral or memorial service for your loved one.  We hope and pray that it helps you in the process of making the many decisions that are part of funeral arrangements.  If we can be of any further help, please do not hesitate to call the Church at (781) 275-7951.  We pray that God’s comfort and peace be with you in this time of mourning and grief.