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Friday, October 22, 2021

Outside the Church and without the Church, Christian life is impossible. Without the Church, the Christian teaching alone remains as an empty sound, for Christian life is Church life. Only in the life of the Church can a person live and develop. In a bodily organism, separate members never grow or develop independently of one another, but always and only in connection with the whole organism. The same applies to the Church. For the growth of the Church is at the same time the growth of its members….The word “Church” (ecclesia) appears one hundred and ten times in the New Testament, while such words as “Christianity” and similar words are completely unknown in the New Testament…to be Christian means to belong to the Church.

St. Hilarion (Troitsky), Christianity or the Church?


Local burial societies are a time-honored and ancient Christian custom. The modern multi-billion death industry is a historical novelty, and a very expensive one at that. Today the usual burial involves the expenditure of enough money to buy a new car, and involves practices with the deceased that are not traditionally Christian. The loving care of the departed is an act of love. As the body of the Lord Jesus was cared for by Ss. Joseph and Nicodemos and the Myrrhbearing women, washed, anointed, clothed and placed with prayer into a tomb, so Orthodox Christians have traditionally buried their loved ones. The burial society of St. Andrew Church continues the ancient traditions of the Orthodox regarding the death and burial of those in the Church, and enables our faithful to bury their dead at an affordable cost.

Two teams of parishioners (one male for male deceased, and one female for female deceased) have been trained by a local mortuary with whom St. Andrew Church has a collaborative agreement in the art of basic burial preparation. This ministry starts at the request of the family of the dying or deceased. Parish families make contact with the parish office, and our Burial Society makes the initial contact with the family to assess their needs and wishes. The one who is dying is visited, and at the request of the ailing or family members, members of the society pray with and for the ailing until he falls asleep in the Lord. Prayers are said and bedside vigil is held to usher the dying into the hands of his/her Guardian Angel who will take the deceased into the presence of the Lord. The prayers begin before death and continue through the 40 day memorial and beyond. 

After repose the burial society prepares the body according Orthodox tradition: Praying for the departed, bathing and anointing the body with oils, arranging the body in repose (this is an involved process), dressing the deceased in baptismal garments or the garments of choice, helping in the preparation for the wake/visitation, funeral services, and burial. The St. Andrew Burial Society has arranged to work alongside a local mortuary whose services are employed for the securing of the death and bodily transport certificates, as well as for transporting the deceased to the church and/or cemetery per the family’s request.    

Following the funeral and burial rites the departed is put into a Necrology, which is a Book that has a record of every parishioner who has fallen asleep in the Lord and whose memory we keep in the St. Andrew Family.  The book records where each of the departed is buried so that each year the Burial Society arranges for visitations to and blessing of the parish graves. The Burial Society also provides the clergy of the church with notification for 40 day and annual memorials of the reposed.

By employing the Burial Society the family of the deceased is able to significantly reduce the costs for after death care and burial from a typical $12-15,000 to under $5,000-$7,000. Coffins are secured from a local Orthodox Monastery for between $800-$2,500. Using the Burial Society allows parishioners to reduce their mortuary costs. If a grave is secured with Evergreen Cemetery with whom St. Andrew has an abiding relationship each grave may be purchased for for under $3,000.  These are estimates, but the savings are significant. Parishioners are encouraged to share at least a portion of the realized savings with the church as a gift in memory of the reposed.  

Costs for Employing the St. Andrew Burial Society: $150. This check should be made out to St. Andrew Church and delivered to the Church Office as soon as the family speaks with the Burial Society and agrees to utilize its services. This minimal fee simply covers the materials cost involved in preparing the deceased (dry ice, olive oil, swabs, and more). The hours of labor is offered by the ministry leaders of the Burial Society as a labor of love.

Should you wish to find out more information about the St. Andrew Burial Society or speak to one of the burial society ministry leaders please contact the Church Office.   


Saint Andrew Orthodox Church
4700 Canyon Crest
Riverside, CA 92507



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