A Connecticut Yankee At The Gates Of Heaven: A Study Of The Rites Surrounding The Death Of A Christian In The Connecticut Conference, United Church Of Christ, At The Beginning Of The Twenty-First Century
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This dissertation examines the rites that members and churches of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ perform when a member of the community dies. A distinction between a “funeral” and “memorial service” is established, with a funeral defined as a rite provided by the Church at the death of a Christian that is both a rite of passage for the dead and a service of the worship of God for the living, and a memorial service identified as a communal gathering that focuses more on eulogizing and remembering the deceased and less on the overt worship of God. By examining the difference between the two, and by looking at historic liturgical sources, it is clear that in the Connecticut Conference at this time, most rites are memorial services rather than funerals. Assessment was made by means of a qualitative analysis of worship bulletins for rites at the time of death that were submitted by seventy-two of the Connecticut Conference churches, in which worship patterns, hymns and scriptures were identified in order to construct a “moment-in-time” snapshot of commonalities among churches in a tradition that cherishes individual expression and resists standard liturgies imposed from the denomination. In conclusion, a new set of death rites based on the findings of the research is offered.
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