A Matter of Life and Death: How Eulogists Inform and Influence Homegoings Open Access

Adams, Priscilla (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/w95051488?locale=en


In a religious context, the term “homegoing” refers to the deceased’s journey to be with the Lord in heaven. This incarnational theology of death as the beginning of a glorious hereafter and not just an end serves as the basis for the homegoing funeral ritual. Homegoings began as and became a way for enslaved persons to preserve their heritage, defy slavery’s cruel machinations, and gain the liberty that slavery had denied them in this life. Today, the unsettling jubilant nature of these homegoings stands in stark contrast to the grief and hardships that plague the African American community. Acknowledging grief does not signify weak faith or a fractured belief system. The power inherent in lament forces acceptance of pain. Jesus offers a healing balm for the individual and the community. To conduct homegoings that will effectively minister to the needs of bereaved parishioners, the eulogist must understand the cultural heritage of this ritual, which is characterized by individuals’ ambivalent feelings and grief as well as individual and communal lament over the plight of the African American community. By developing ministers appropriately, rethinking the liturgy, and recovering lament and celebration, the eulogist can assist in homegoings that typify an incarnational theology of death.


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