Funerals at St. John’s, Toorak, during the COVID-19 pandemic church closure period

UPDATE as at 26 May, 2020

During the period of church closure and restrictions on public gatherings, the government has advised that churches may continue to hold funerals as long as those present do not exceed twenty persons and people adhere to the social distancing requirements of one person per four square metres.

When a loved one dies, we want to provide them with the best possible occasion to say farewell and entrust them to God’s care. However, during the current restrictions, it is necessary to place limits on what is possible in this regard. Until such time as government restrictions change or are lifted, St. John’s is able to offer the following to the families of those who have died:

  1. St. John’s clergy are available to conduct funerals at St. John’s church, at a funeral chapel, or at the graveside.
  2. In the case of funerals held at St. John’s, only immediate family members may be present, to a maximum of twenty persons, each of whom must sit only in designated seats to maintain strict social distancing requirements. Family members who live together may sit together. In the case of funerals held off site, all must abide by the social distancing rules in place at the local venue.
  3. All consultations about the funeral service will still be by telephone or Zoom conference. Currently, we cannot arrange face-to-face meetings with family members prior to the service.
  4. The funeral service will need to be “basic” and brief, with a maximum of one eulogy of no more than five minutes (500 words). This should be provided to the priest in advance, and may be delivered either by the priest or a family member. We encourage you to publish the text of fuller eulogies and other tributes online, or to reserve them for a later memorial service.
  5. No requiem Eucharist will be possible.
  6. It may be possible to arrange for organ music at the service, but no other music can be arranged at present.
  7. You may privately arrange casket flowers, but please keep other flower arrangements simple. They need to be brought in a vase which must then be removed by the person organising the funeral.
  8. Memorial services with no body present can also be accommodated for those who have recently died. In such cases a funeral director should be present to assist the clergy and family.
  9. Please note that due to physical distancing requirements, there can be no pall bearers.
  10. We recommend that once government restrictions are lifted, families arrange a more substantial memorial service at St. John’s for their loved one, which will be an appropriate occasion for tributes in the usual way

To organise a funeral at St. John’s during this period, please speak first to a funeral director, and then contact the church on 9826 1765.

The Rev. Dr. Peter French