If you attend a Presbyterian funeral, pack a lunch. A Presbyterian funeral is a beauteous ceremony that will make your heart go “flip flop” with beauty. It will be a ritual to remember for the rest of your life. Namely, because at some point you might be escorted from the premises by EMTs because of low blood sugar.

No. I’m only joking. Presbyterians hold incredible services wherein they use words like “beauteous.” This is because many Presbyterians attended college. Many “Prezbies” classify themselves as “high church” people.

Some of you might be asking, what is the difference between “high church” and “low church?” The answer is simple: “High church” people practice historic religious traditions and time-honored liturgy. Whereas “low church” people, such as my family, believe in, primarily, getting home before NASCAR.

Today I attended my first Presbyterian funeral. I entered the sanctuary and my breath got stuck in my throat. The simple beauty was overwhelming.

The stained glass was purple and gold, lighting the room like a veritable Monet. There were vaulted ceilings. Everything was made of oak. There was an organist playing. The elders were dressed in Geneva robes with long stoles.

And when the ministers spoke, they did not address the congregation the way my Baptist childhood ministers addressed church goers. My preachers called everyone “friends,” “y’all,” and occasionally “boneheads.” No, these clerical men used proper grammar.

I was raised as a Baptist. Our preachers wore JCPenney suits. And in the middle of my childhood services, elderly gentlemen would frequently rise and excuse themselves from the sanctuary. And everyone knew what the oldsters were going to do.

They were leaving to have an important meeting with Brother Copenhagen, or Reverend Marlboro. There were spittoons on our church’s front porch.

Presbyterians are not like that. You will not find a spittoon within 600 yards of a Presbyterian church. And most have never heard of Richard Lee Petty.

Still, the funeral was among the most lovely events I have ever been to. The organist played the sacred melodies of William Henry Draper and the congregation sang the lyrics of Saint Francis. And when the people sang the “Doxology,” the music fell upon my ears in a different way than when I attended VBS, long ago, and my cousin Ed Lee would sing his own lyrics.

“Praise God because my bladder flows…”

Speaking of my cousin, during the ceremony, I found myself contemplating things my cousin’s wife has often said about Presbyterians. My cousin’s wife, who shall remain nameless (Julia Price McDaniels) is a Presbyterian.

My cousin’s wife once described Presbyterians to me this way:

“Let me tell you about a Presbyterian man who once walked into a department store,” she said.

“The man said to the sales lady ‘Ma’am, I’d like to buy a Presbyterian bra for my wife, size 36B.’

“With a quizzical look the sales lady said, ‘We don’t get as many requests for Presbyterian bras anymore. Mostly, our customers want Catholic bras, or Salvation Army bras, or Baptist bras.’

“‘What are the differences?’ asked the confused husband.

“The sales lady replied, ‘A Catholic bra supports the masses. The Salvation Army bra lifts the fallen, whereas the Baptist bra keeps things staunch and upright.’

“The man asked, ‘What does the Presbyterian bra do?’

“The sales lady replied, ‘They make mountains out of molehills.’”

As I say, this funeral moved me in a way I have seldom been moved. The sacred music was perfect. The floral arrangement was the finest I have ever seen. The homily was well-written, and delivered with the poise of a true orator. Someone even recited a piece written by Mark Twain.

Mark Twain, in church. Don’t tell me there’s no hope for America.

All in all, the sentiments delivered from the sacred desk were sheer poetry. If there was a dry eye in the house, it belonged to a needle.

After the service, an old woman approached me and said, “Are you a member here?”

“No, ma’am,” I said. “Actually, I am not really a church guy.”

“Why not?” she said.

“Well, I’m not perfect.”

“I once found a perfect, church,” she replied with a laugh. “Then I joined it and screwed it up.”

Then, the woman gave me such a powerful Presbyterian hug that I could hear my ribs creak.

Would that all God’s creatures were so beauteous.


  1. stephen e acree - July 13, 2023 10:35 am

    I bet you get some flack today but I think modern Presbyterians have a sense of humor. Grew up in a very small rural town Presbyterian Church. Just because the neighbor kids went and we couldnt play in their yard on Sunday if we didnt attend. I never felt threatened by eternal flames in that church. I just remember wonderful songs, kindness and gentle old people. The best preacher came and loved us young people but died soon after. We always made it home for the NFL game. Fond memories of that old building and its people. I remember my best friend (the neighbor son) us Beautimous……….

    • stephen e acree - July 13, 2023 2:52 pm

      using beautimous not us beautimus

  2. Peg - July 13, 2023 2:54 pm

    You made this Presbyterian laugh out loud.
    Thanks Sean.

  3. Dee Thompson - July 14, 2023 11:25 pm

    My cousin is married to a Presbyterian pastor who has an excellent sense of humor. I sent him the link so he can read this. He used to front a Jimmy Buffett tribute band. Not all presbys are super formal…

  4. Elsa - July 22, 2023 9:08 pm

    I wad honored to arrange the flowers for Dr. Richard Champion’s Celebration of Life. Such a sweet family!


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