There are restrictions placed upon all gatherings in the church, and funerals are the only form of meeting currently allowed in the graveyard.
Our vicar, Paul, is still conducting funerals at the Crematoria in the area and also in the graveyard.
Please do contact Paul if you wish to discuss a funeral to find out what the restrictions are, and what the gradual lifting of lockdown will mean for you and your loved ones funeral.
Funerals, burials and memorials
Our intent at St Mary Magdalene's is to work closely with you as you seek to consider how best to mark the conclusion of a loved one’s life journey, so that together we can create a service that is a fitting way to say goodbye.
We are happy to take the service in its entirety if the family so wishes, but there are spaces for people to do readings and to give a pre-planned tribute. We recommend that copies of any tributes to be given should be sent to the minister leading the service so that they can step in at the last minute if necessary. Likewise, if the family would like to give a tribute but don’t feel able to read it themselves, the minister will be very happy to read it on their behalf.
There are several members of the ministry team who lead funerals, so although the initial point of contact is with the vicarage, it may be Paul, Mandy, Margaret or Wendy who will be taking the service.
Once you have made contact with us we will plan to come and visit (Covid-19 restrictions may require this all to be done via ‘phones and email) and we will give you an outline order of service as a framework from which to plan. We recognise that for many of you, this is the first time you will have had to organise something like this so we will walk you through the process.
It is essential that you ensure you and the funeral director liaise with the church before booking a funeral date and time. We cannot guarantee that someone from the team, or indeed the church building itself, will be available at all times so we need to communicate with each other the possible dates at the earliest opportunity. There have been occasions in the past where this has not been observed and we have had to find a minister from another church to cover.
In the past the common practice was that the funeral would take place within a week of the death. However this has become a rarity now. In the different ways in which a funeral can take place listed below, the first option is the one whereby we can usually move more swiftly given that it is only the local diaries to be considered. Once we look at using a crematorium we are at the mercy of when the next slot is available that is suitable for the family. In busy times it can be up to a month before a service can take place with two to three weeks being the norm.
The Archbishops’ Council sets statutory fees for funerals each year. These are waived for the funeral of a child. You may also wish to have the services of a musician to lead music during the service which will constitute a separate charge. The fees change each year so your funeral director can advise you.
Funerals and Churchyard burials
Because we do not have to worry about timings around crematoria with churchyard burials it makes them somewhat easier to organise. Do take note, however, that there is a busy school next to the church and, with limited parking in Tanworth village centre, we recommend you avoid times when parents are arriving to collect children from school.
Burial in the churchyard is only an automatic right for someone who lives in the parish, someone who was on the church’s electoral roll, (note that this is different from the civil parish electoral roll), or who was simply in the parish when they died. The church PCC extended this right to anyone who had been living in the parish but had then needed to move to a nursing home outside the parish.
In some circumstances it is possible to book a space in the churchyard for someone not resident by the diocesan faculty process. This can be a lengthy process, however, and cannot be done in the immediate aftermath of a death.
Please also be aware that in this churchyard it is not possible to choose a specific place to be buried. We bury people in chronological order so that, in the absence of an available register, future searches of the graveyard for an ancestor are made easier if all that is known the name and date of death.
If you are unsure which parish the deceased was in, you can check by visiting www.achurchnearyou.com and inputting their postcode.
Funerals and Cremation
If the deceased’s wishes were for cremation, we can have a service in church beforehand and then a committal at one of the local crematoriums.
Bear in mind that crematorium service slots are normally thirty minutes (Robin Hood) or forty five minutes (Redditch) but there is no limit to the length of a church service, so if the funeral of the deceased is likely to draw a large number of people, having a service in church first may be the better route since we can set the funeral start time in church to give plenty of time for immediate family to then proceed to the crematorium for the committal.
It is also possible to do this in reverse, to have a small private funeral at the crematorium followed soon after by a large memorial service in the church, usually on the same day.
Alternatively, the entire service can be conducted at one of the local crematoria. The two nearest are at Robin Hood and Redditch, with Redditch being the closest with the most predictable journey time from the church. The bookable times are thirty minutes and forty five minutes respectively but please note that these include entrance and exit of all the guests. This translates to a service time at Robin Hood of about twenty minutes and at Redditch of about thirty minutes. If the funeral is likely to be a large gathering it is recommended that you discuss with the funeral director whether back-to-back slots should be booked to cater for entrance and egress of guests and to avoid the crematorium levelling a fine.
Please note that, in contrast with many civic cemeteries, the Diocese of Birmingham has set very stringent rules about what memorials are permitted. Whereas in a civic cemetery you purchase the lease on a grave and have more freedom in the stone, in a churchyard the grave remains the property of the diocese and you are being given the permission to be buried in perpetuity. It is for this reason that your chosen memorial mason must liaise with us regarding what memorial stone can be used, its size, and what wording can go on to that stone.
As a general outline, gravestones can be any English natural stone or grey granite. The diocese does not permit us to have coloured granite or marble of any kind. Letters can be simply inscribed or in black or white lettering. Neither gold nor silver lettering has been permitted since 2006. The engraving should include the person’s full name, (if they were known by another name this can be added afterwards within inverted commas), their dates or years of birth and death, and if it is wished, a simple additional verse or line. The diocese permits Bible verses or simple phrases that they deem appropriate for a traditional churchyard. It is common practice for us to check requested inscriptions with the diocese (which we can do free of charge) and the decision of the Diocesan Chancellor is final. You may wish to have a conversation with us before going to your memorial mason as we can usually advise fairly swiftly whether we think the diocese will permit your intended wording.
Cremation plaques are 18” by 12” with the same restrictions to types of stone and wording as above. The stones are to be laid flat rather than sloped.