Guidelines for the Armenian Funeral Services
Funeral services can be done at any day of the week except for Saturday afternoons after 3:00 PM and Sundays. It is a good idea to contact the pastor to help the family of the deceased with the planning the funeral in order to receive guidance when it comes to following the Canon Law of the Armenian Church.The Pastor may be contacted through the church office 732 -229 – 3661 or in emergency cases at 732 – 312 – 8661.
We divide the burial ritual into three different sections:
Home Service/ Wake: Dan Gark
Church Service: Yegeghetsvo Gark
Graveside Service: Kerezmanee Gark
Dan Gark (Wake)
Dan Gark should be performed the night before the funeral, while the Church Service (Yegeghetsvo Gark ) and Graveside Service (Kerezmanee Gark) are performed on the day of the funeral. The Armenian church hosts gathering with family and friends of the deceased at the home of the family (in the USA – at the funeral home) in order to mourn the death in the night before the funeral service, however it can also be done at the church sanctuary if the family of the deceased chooses to do so, but an additional fee of ($450) will be required. No Compatriotic, fraternal nor any other organization may perform services in the Church proper. If such services are the desire of the family, the Church should not be used for the ‘Waking’ – Dan Gark.
Yegeghetsvo Gark ( Church Service) – We Armenians usually conduct the Church Service in an Armenian church sanctuary and nowhere else, therefore this eliminates some options that are open for other denominations of the Christian church. The funeral service is considered a serious religious ritual in which no other rites should be delivered. Our church also do not allow laymen to give eulogies in the sanctuary during either Home Service or Church Service at the Graveside Service. Instead, lay people should speak at the funeral home or the memorial meal (Hokejash). However, the priest will provide a summary of the life of the deceased in his sermon. It is recommended that a brief biography of the deceased be provided to the Pastor at least one day prior to the funeral. We never perform “The Church service / Yegeghetsvo Gark” at the funeral home nor anywhere outside of the church proper.
In the case of Cremation and/or suicide the Pastor must be informed prior to making funeral arrangements. As such situations are outside the Canons of the Armenian Church, instructions must be received from the ecclesiastical authority (Primate).
The fee for the services of another priest or an out-of-town priest is according to individual donation. For visiting clergy, the minimum fee is $250.00 plus travel expenses (this should be discussed with the Pastor before any particular priest is invited, because the invitation will come from the Pastor).
Graveside Service: Kerezmanee Gark takes place in the cemetery after the church service. In a case of a cremation this service is optional.
Suggested Donations to the Church
All donations (sacrament’s fee) are the responsibility of the family and should be handled through the Funeral Director who must contact our church office 732-229-3661 (the check must be payable to St. Stepanos Armenian Church), unless other arrangements are made with the Pastor.
Our church members usually make a memorial donation “In Lieu of Flowers” to the Church if the family of the deceased asked it. “In Lieu of Flowers” donations are made directly to St. Stepanos Armenian Church. The Church will receive them directly from parishioners and individuals. A final computerized list shall be provided to the family by the office of St. Stepanos Armenian Church at the time of the Fortieth Day Memorial “Karasoonk.” The names of all our parishioners who made their donations “In Lieu of Flowers” will be recorded in the parish newsletter “Datev”.
If “IN LIEU OF FLOWERS” donations are going to be made to any other organization, envelopes must be provided by that organization.
Memorializing the Dead
The grave of the deceased is usually visited by close friends and family members on specific days such as the seventh day and the fortieth day after death occurs and on the anniversary of the death and whenever a New Year starts.