Twitchell creatively uses the power of narrative to remind all that a “guide to funerals” is not simply about “principles, tactics, strategies, and how to.” Bereavement ministry is always about people, each person unique, yet everyone loved by God and to be loved by the pastor. read more

Rev. Brent D. Peterson, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology at Northwest Nazarene University
Author of Created to Worship: God’s Invitation to Become Fully Human

I love Rev. Twitchell’s book. Presence is the book I looked for years ago, but couldn’t find! His emphasis appropriately is on pastoral presence, though he also addresses preparing and conducting the funeral service. Read more

Rev. Clair Allen Budd, PhD
Professor of Christian Studies at Asbury University

Within a week of picking up Presence, it has already become an incredibly useful resource in my library, one which I’d happily recommend to any pastor who seeks to care for the grieving well. read more

Rev. Timothy R. Gaines, PhD
Co-Lead Pastor at Bakersfield (California) First Church of the Nazarene
Co-author of A Seat at the Table: A Generation Reimagining its Place in the Church

Considering all of the books I have read on bereavement, this one is definitely at the top of the stack. I encourage every minister to read it and I think it should be mandatory reading for each new pastor who is about to begin his or her ministerial journey. read more

Rev. Danny Goddard
Pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene in New Castle, Indiana
Author of Pastoral Care in Times of Death and Dying

Although every situation is as unique as the persons involved, Twitchell identifies key principles to help the pastor respond in any situation with grace. He provides practical help, as well as a theological foundation on which to base ministry to the grieving which includes the whole faith community. read more

Rev. Judith A. Schwanz, PhD
Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Nazarene Theological Seminary
Author of Blessed Connections: Relationships that Sustain Vital Ministry

In Presence, Jon Twitchell touched on every aspect of the pastor’s role in conducting funerals and ministering to the families of the deceased. This is a vast resource for anyone wanting to know how to respond to persons dealing with grief.

Rev. Paul Basham
Retired Pastor

See the five star reviews on


Death comes as an uninvited interruption of life. The disruption forces individuals to abandon regular routines so they can deal with urgent concerns, such as caring for a dead body, planning a funeral, and beginning the journey through grief. In days clouded by sorrow, pastors embody the Good Shepherd who walks through the valley with those who mourn.

Presence: A Pastor’s Guide to Funerals begins with a story about Pastor Jamie who recently graduated from seminary. In just the second week as a pastor, Jamie recognizes the nuances of ministry not evident in a classroom as he steps alongside of a family mourning the death of its matriarch. This fictional account sets the context for the book.

Presence intentionally begins with biblical theologies of death, dying, and the funeral service. Those theological tenets are then applied to the practice of bereavement ministry. By considering the ways that God is made manifest in seasons of sadness, pastors discover guidance for the incarnational ministry of presence. The book concludes with a discussion of formative practices that aid in the development of the being and doing of pastoral ministry when people grieve. With the ministry of presence, the pastor as a person provides deep comfort when words may seem shallow.

Presence: A Pastor’s Guide to Funerals explores bereavement ministry by helping pastors apply their theological convictions to particular situations. Lifelong ministry practitioners will appreciate the reminder of the theological foundation that undergirds ministry actions. New pastors will find value in the “quick start” hints found in the practical applications. Presence provides numerous examples of the significant role played by pastors through which God comforts those walking in the shadows of death.

Presence: A Pastor’s Guide to Funerals is available in paperback and Kindle formats. Click here for a one-page description of the book (PDF).




1. The Pastor Jamie Prologue

Part I: The Context of Bereavement Ministry

2. At the Crossroads
3. The Changing Changed Landscape
4. Concerns of Bereavement Ministry

Part II: A Biblical Theology of Death and Funerals

5. Finding God in Our Grief
6. Worshipful Proclamation
7. Awaiting the Resurrection
8. Reclaiming the Christian Funeral

Part III: Tasks of the Minister

9. Attending the Death
10. Preparations
11. The Services
12. Special Situations
13. Follow-up Care

Part IV: Ministry Formation

14. The Person of the Minister
15. Tools of the Ministry
16. The Sower went Forth to Sow
17. The Pastor Jamie Epilogue


A. Sample Orders of Service
B. Scriptures
C. Hymns and Songs
D. Poems and Readings
E. Grief Resources

About the Author and Series Editor