However, Mark Tronson was distressed when the family told him that the funeral directors had contacted them twice, trying to persuade them to have a civil celebrant conduct the service. Further, the funeral home representative had made several calls to different family members in an attempt to control the service program.
Christian ministers had been reporting this sense of this 'being pushed aside' for some time now, saying that they, too, had been surprised and in the end had to establish their stamp of authority. It wasn't until M V Tronson had a taste of this himself, that he realised how insidious is this push for funeral civil celebrants.
In his particular case, to spare the family any more stress in their delicate situation, M V Tronson had to make it very clear to the funeral home representative that the service was now in his hands, full stop. Moreover, no further contact on this subject was to be discussed by the funeral home representative to any member of the bereaved family other than himself as the Minister.
"It is unnerving for all concerned," explained M V Tronson. "After having met with the bereaved and worked through the funeral service, only to have the funeral home representative butt in and create uncertainty and further heartache for the bereaved."
Other ministers he has consulted have increasingly become more aware of similar issues.
In his opinion, the philosophy toward this push for funeral civil celebrants is apparently two-fold.
Firstly, there is an automatic assumption that a deceased Christian's funeral service would be held in a church. Therefore, any funeral service that is held in a crematorium or funeral home chapel or any place other than a church building, will not be 'willingly' a Christian funeral.
There are a number of counter-arguments to that assumption.
It may be more convenient for the funeral service to be held in a place away from the church; the family may wish for a quieter and less ostentatious venue for the funeral service, particularly where there may be a smaller number of people paying their respects, such as with the very elderly where there are not many friends left to attend; and last but not least, cost too might be a factor, in that it may be less of a burden on the estate if all the components of the funeral are at the one location.
Secondly, it appears that the civil celebrant industry may be tied to the management of the funeral homes, who may therefore like to retain control. In this way, the funeral directors have a more straightforward task, in that they do not have to contend with the requirements of the wide and varied forms of community farewells, as expressed by ministers or leaders of the other religions from around the world.
In his 32 years as a Baptist minister, having served predominantly as a chaplain in professional sports and the corporate sectors, M V Tronson knows that a Christian's Salvation is not dependent on whether that person attended church.
Rather, he said, it was whether the deceased had a living faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. He went on to say that one finds Christian faith and commitment to Christ in the strangest of places.
Mark Tronson therefore encourages bereaving families to stand firm, should they wish a Minister to conduct the funeral service of their loved ones, wherever they choose to hold it. The Christian community needs to be made aware that they can insist on whatever service they like, they do not have to accede to the suggestion of the funeral directors.