From Canon Sally Brush
Sir, — Regarding the article about crematoria (Comment, 19 June): for those ministering in very rural areas, other issues are raised. In north Wales, for example, there are few crematoria (Aberystwyth, Bangor, Rhyl, and Wrexham), all needing a round trip of up to 60 miles.
This means that people often opt to go to the crematorium first, and then hold something locally afterwards. This, with the visit to the crematorium needing three hours, plus a service locally, means that at least five hours is needed, which is a big commitment for the cleric; and does not include visits to see the family, which can involve a 20-mile trip to the house.
Fortunately, there are not very many funerals, and the vicar or chapel minister may well know the family, even if they do not join in any local worship.
Second, many villages do not have any public buildings where funeral services can be held, except churches and chapels. For example, I have had requests for an atheist funeral in church, a Jehovah’s Witness service, and services “without anything religious” — mainly, it would appear, because there is nowhere else to go.
Third, no mention was made in the article of Readers, many of whom are licensed to take funerals. Sometimes, they are known to the family when the vicar is not, and this can be a big help in a pastoral situation.
The issues raised in the article are real ones, as are the ones I have raised, and will become more difficult as clergy are taking on more parishes and more funerals.
Persondy, 1 Tyddyn Terrace, Cerrigydrudion, Corwen LL21 9TN