Who is eligible to have a funeral or memorial service at the Chapel?
Duke Chapel is available for the funerals and memorial services of Duke students and alumni, employees and retirees of Duke University and the Duke University Health System, and members of the Congregation at Duke Chapel. If your loved one does not have a connection to the University or the Congregation but there are extenuating circumstances that you would like us to consider, please do not hesitate to ask.
In what ways is a funeral different from a memorial service?
A funeral service takes place with the casket and the body present at the Chapel. A memorial service, on the other hand, memorializes the deceased person without his or her body present at the service. If your loved one has been cremated and his or her ashes are present in an urn, the service is considered a memorial rather than a funeral.
Funerals tend to be scheduled immediately following the death, whereas memorial services may be held weeks or even months after it depending on the availability of family members and friends or the academic department.
How much does the Chapel charge for a funeral or memorial service?
The main Chapel or the smaller Duke family Memorial Chapel (with seating for 49 people) are available at no charge for funerals and memorial services.
Other costs, however, include the Technical Services fee (for microphones, podium and lectern set-up, and someone running sound during the service), which is generally in the $100 range. Because the fee may be higher for more complicated services, Duke Technical Services is happy to provide customized price quotes if desired. Note that Technical Services is not needed in the Memorial Chapel.
If the Chapel Circle – the small parking lot immediately in front of the Chapel quad – is reserved for parking for the family on a weekend, families are typically asked to pay a reservation fee through Parking and Transportation Services. For services scheduled during the workweek, a limited number of spaces are generally available at no charge.
If you would like the Chapel Organist to play for the funeral, it is customary to offer an honorarium in exchange for his services. Amounts will vary, but – most generally – the organist’s honorarium is around the $300 mark. The check should be given privately to the organist and thus should be made out directly to him, not to Duke Chapel.
If you would like one of the Chapel’s ministers to preside over the service, many times an honorarium is not expected; however, honoraria in the range of $100 to $200 are often still given as a gesture of appreciation for the minister’s time and care.
How long does our reservation last? When can we arrive to set up?
The Chapel generally allows 1 hour for set-up, 1 hour for the service itself, and 30 minutes for clean-up afterward. For a 3:00 p.m. funeral, for example, set-up would take place between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m., the service would last until approximately 4:00 p.m., and clean-up (and the receiving line, if applicable) should finish by 4:30 p.m.
In general, if flowers will be delivered, this should be done 30-60 minutes before the service is scheduled to start. Ushers, bulletins, and the guest registry (if applicable) should be at the Chapel and in place at least 30 minutes before the service starts.
Our family minister is unable to travel. Can one of the Chapel’s ministers preside over the service instead?
Families are encouraged to invite the ministers of their “home” congregations to preside over their loved ones’ funerals. However, if you do not have a family minister or if your minister is unable to travel, the Chapel’s ministers are occasionally available to preside over funerals and memorial services. While the Chapel cannot guarantee the availability of its ministers, please email us and we will do our best to find a clergyperson to assist you with the service.
Will the Chapel print our bulletins for us?
Unfortunately, the Chapel does not offer design or printing services for bulletins; instead, these are to be provided by the funeral home, family, minister, or academic department. We are happy to send samples of past bulletins if they would be helpful.
You are welcome to use your choice of paper, and there are no restrictions on content or design. If desired, you may use this image of the Chapel as your cover image. Southworth ivory parchment paper (8.5” x 11”, 24-lb. weight) is copier and printer compatible, can be purchased at local office supply stores, and is an excellent choice for funeral bulletins.
We’d like to host a reception following the service. Can we do this in the Chapel?
The Chapel, unfortunately, does not have space available for receptions after services. Some buildings on campus do, however, and there are wonderful off-campus options as well. Please email us for more information.