Mark offers a choice of traditional Christian funeral services and eclectic rituals including open air nature based ceremonies. He also conducts Green ceremonies held at Humber Woodland of Remembrance, a beautiful Green Burial Ground in Herefordshire (www.humberwoodland.co.uk)
Mark realises that many people who are spiritual cannot equate their faith with official religion. When they are faced with, for example, the trauma of planning a funeral for a member of their family, they often think there are only two alternatives: a formal Minister of Religion or a Humanist. Some opt for the latter but, during the planning of the funeral realise that they want some prayers or a hymn. Mark‘s services offers an alternative for them.
People who attend Mark’s funeral ceremonies are comforted by the service he provides. They are sometimes surprised by how beautiful a non traditional ceremony can be. A Vicar’s daughter at one [high profile] funeral exclaimed, ‘That was the most spiritual service I’ve ever attended.’
Endorsements from Funeral Directors:
Mark puts people immediately at ease when they meet him and takes great care to ensure a funeral service is meaningful and celebratory whether religious or not. Mark is unique and having directed hundreds of funerals in churches, crematoriums even burials in private gardens, I know that my wish is to have Mark at my own funeral!
Bill Rowlatt (proprietor of Oak Tree Funeral Services)
Mark Townsend’s services are deeply spiritual and fully encompass today's move away from the standard church service. Mark himself is a compassionate and caring person who takes great care with families and respects their views and wishes. We highly recommend him.
Graham Bradley Funeral Director - R W Mann & Son
Mark was my first choice of Celebrant when my own Grandfather passed away. He offers the most beautifully comforting ceremonies, whether completely non-religious or religious. We are constantly in receipt of the warmest thank you letters from families who have appreciated his services.
Victoria Allen - Proprietor of Victoria Allen Funeral Services
Endorsements from families:
At a time of great sorrow, when my husband and soul mate, Peter, suddenly died, Mark Townsend was a huge help and I consider him to be a real gem. Most importantly, Mark empathised with my son, Anthony, and considered our joint needs. From my notes and quotes, Mark compiled a sincere and fitting tribute to Peter, consulting us every step of the way. On a very wild and windy day at Humber, Mark conducted the fondest farewell. We will always be grateful to Mark and have no hesitation in recommending his services to others.
The following letter illustrates Mark’s long standing eclectic spiritual vision and demonstrates how the authenticity he brings to his services celebrates the REAL person. It was written while he was still the Vicar of Leominster Priory:
When my husband Cliff, died in May 2007 I very much wanted a church service for him, as the Church of England had always been held in high regard by us both. Throughout my life the Church has always been a place of sanctity, peace and healing for me.
I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to, so I rang the Priory vicarage and asked if I could speak to the Vicar. Mark returned my call and came out to visit me. It was a pure delight and relief to meet him. He showed such compassion and understanding, giving me totally unwavering support amidst my grief. He had many of the attributes that I had come to expect from a member of the clergy but there were other special qualities that he showed, qualities that can’t be taught or learnt....and one of those was the quality of wanting me to feel that the church had given their love and blessing to whichever way I felt was best to honour my late husband.
During our conversation, Mark suggested that I might like to include some pieces within the service that would “bring to life” the man that Cliff had been and to enable all who attended the funeral service to feel close to him. I didn’t know if I could include special items within the traditional funeral service that I felt would have honoured the man that Cliff had been throughout his life, or to symbolise the love and togetherness that we had shared. Mark assured me that whatever I wanted could be included.
The funeral service that Mark conducted for my late husband offered immense comfort and support to me, allowing me to do certain things - like blow bubbles to the heavens during the prayers (something that Cliff and I used to do, having had them blown at our marriage ceremony too). Mark also took a basket full of artistic and sacred items from our home that included crystals, spiritual symbols, candles, angels and Native American images. He decorated the entire altar area with them and played Native American drumming music as the coffin was brought into the church. This brought Cliff's and my world directly into the heart of the sacred space within the church which was so very important. Without these touches and gestures I feel that it would have left quite a void within the service. I was also allowed to read a prayer and poem that I had written for Cliff. His stepson and friends also had the opportunity to read poems and prayers that had been collected from around the world. It softened the grief somehow and enabled me to feel God's all encompassing love and to feel that I had honoured Cliff in one of God's most Holy places.
There could have been no greater comfort to myself, a grieving widow, than to be allowed to have had the extra touches added to the funeral service for my beloved husband, within the parameters of the Church of England, especially when I was supported, comforted and understood by a vicar such as Mark.
When I look back at the service and the wonderful way with which Mark conducted it for Cliff, I know that it was the start of my healing from the severe pain and loss of my husband. For me, I am utterly sure that Jesus would have been very proud to have had Mark alongside Him. For Jesus showed only love, compassion and understanding, just as Mark did to me and there can be no greater mark of respect that I could give Mark.