Sunday Funerals

Date Published: 
August, 1893
Original Author: 
John J. Stephens
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 7th Annual Convention

In preparing this paper on Sunday funerals my first thought was to introduce it with same account of the origin of the custom. But on looking through the reference books at my command, I found ample description of funeral rites among the Greeks and Romans as well as among other nations, both ancient and modern, but nothing was discovered to indicate the evolution of the Sunday Funeral. The reasons for its abolition have been discussed often. Mr. Hamill gave the most important ones, hence I can only say that my own reasons are much the same, and I am very anxious to see a discontinuance of funerals on that day. From my experience of thirteen years in Green Lawn Cemetery I think it is a desecration of not only the day which according to the commandments we should duly observe, but also of the cemetery grounds.

Visitors who on this day exceeding those on week days, congregate at the grave in such numbers as to completely crowd out the mourners and friends, compel us to use our authority in dispelling the crowd, which in nine cases out of ten return to the grave as soon as our backs are turned, so that it is necessary to either let them stand or create a scene. Sunday funerals also require our presence all the day causing us to work seven days in the week while other business and laboring men are spending the day either at church or quietly resting at home with their families. How many here present see a day of rest? I think judging you by myself you would all be benefitted and recuperated in more ways than one if it were not for this Sunday funeral. I have talked with quite a number of our ministers and they all favor the idea but are very dilatory in bringing it before the public. Our funeral directors are also in favor of it but slow to act. A reform of this nature cannot be affected by a funeral director or superintendent alone. It must be by a united action that the desired result may be achieved. Having thought long and deeply on this subject, and considering the opposition on one hand, the ineffectual methods on the other, I came to the conclusion the most practical plan was to form state associations and bring the subject before the legislature having it made a state law, in this way it not only benefits the large cities but towns and villages also.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 7th Annual Convention
Minneapolis, MN
August 22, 23 and 24, 1893