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Monday, August 17, 2015

My First Funeral

Hello Rev Long,.
My funeral was very unusual for me because it involved a ward/patient of mines.  I have been a licensed minister from a different denomination years ago but, I was never ordained.  Therefore I've never had the opportunity to officiate at any funerals, and had no preparation for any type of funeral services.  However, being an court appointed volunteer legal guardian for adults that have been adjudicated mentally incompetent by Probate Court had experience planning a funeral. Shortly after becoming an ordained ULC Seminary minister, one of my patient health started to deteriorate rapidly. I started to formulate a funeral plan and, select the funeral home and, I reach the part in the funeral planning process where I had to choose the officiating minister.
I left it blank.  I left it blank because it hadn't dawned on me that I was ordained and could now officiate the funeral myself.  However, after I had to get the patient's family involved with visitations and saying their "good-byes" I instantly remembered that I was ordained and, now providing Pastoral Care Services" to this family.  I filled in my name as the minister that would be officiating the funeral services.  I did all those things that you do with the family they try to come to grips with their family member that is either dying or deceased but, in this instance I was also part of the family because I was his guardian.
We put together a nice small dignified funeral with the limited funds that were available and, the agency that I volunteered through as a volunteer guardian was notified of our plans. This is where I said the miracle of God's hand @ work. Days before the funeral was to take place the funeral director called me and said, he was able to verify my former patient had actually been a US Marine.  This gave us extra money for a proper burial in our state's "National Veterans Cemetery" and, that we now had 2 choices of caskets.  I invited the family to go to the funeral home to choice the casket and finalize the update funeral plans.  I also told the agency about the update in funeral plans and, I said this will be my first funeral as an ordained minister.  The agency had never had a "Volunteer Guardian" Officiate at any of their wards/patients funeral before and, now the funeral was going to our state's cemetery too.  This became a big deal and, now they wanted to get a news reporter involved provided that the family were ok with this.  Suddenly the little dignified gravesite funeral became something else, a real funeral that was now going to have publicity.  Now we are going to have a wake at the funeral home and, then an official Marine Corp graveside services which included a 21 gun salute.
Fortunately the reporter wasn't available to cover the funeral so we had no press cover but, we had everything else.    I was happy to have been able to provide a message of hope and ask the family to let their reflections of their individual lives with this person, to speak a gift of God. To have been there to provide Pastoral Care Services to them during their loved one last days.  I gave a copy of my message to the agency which I volunteer but, I lost the written copy of the message.  However, I've not lost the message of the circumstance   It was a very powerful message to me and a confirmation of the ministry that I am called to do and, that is Pastoral Care Services to those that do not have a pastor.
Have you realized just how blessed you are right now?
Bishop C. T. Thonor-Kuykendall, ll,DD
Life's Ripples