When a Loved One Dies

Help is available whenever you lose a loved one or there is a death in our church community. Memorials, funerals and celebrations of life (services) are all options at First Unitarian. Our staff and volunteers are ready to support you and your family, and help with planning a service if you choose. Below are things to consider as you move through this process.


Who do I contact?

Please reach out to Rev. Amy Petrie Shaw (they/them/their) at revamy@ucdsm.org or 515-244-8603 Ext. 102, to discuss a death and for assistance with planning a service.

May I use outside clergy?

Additional clergy are welcomed with prior approval from Rev. Shaw.

Is there a cost for a service?

Rev. Shaw performs services at no cost when there is a death of a current or former church member. The cost for non-member services will be the standard cost for building rental, plus an additional charge for ministerial services.

May a casket or urn be present for the service?

Yes. Service arrangements may include an open or closed casket or cremains.

How do I arrange for music during the service?

Musician services may be arranged through the church, and/or outside musicians may also be invited to participate. Pre-recorded music can also be accommodated.

What other pastoral help is available?

The minister or the church’s Pastoral Care Team can provide ongoing personal support during the grieving process. They can also help prepare an announcement of the death for placement in the church’s newsletter or to be shared during Joys & Concerns during a Sunday service.

May I hold a reception at church?

The Memorial Receptions Committee can provide set-up and refreshments for a reception in Griffin Hall following a service. Please contact committee chair Susan Jellinger (she/her/hers) at  memorialreceptions@ucdsm.org. She will help coordinate the details with you.

For a simple reception, church volunteers provide cookies, coffee, tea and water. If you choose to provide additional food, such as sandwiches or a meal, a team member will help coordinate food service and room set up.

Is interment possible for cremains at First Unitarian?

Yes. Our Memorial Garden is available for interment of cremains for current and former members.

How do I make a memorial contribution?

If you wish to make a donation in honor of someone who has died, please mail a check to the church. Be sure to specify if the donation is for the church’s general operating fund or Endowment Fund, plus who it is in memory of and who should be notified of the donation.