Taking Funerals Seriously 2: fresh perspectives

Taking Funerals Seriously 2: Fresh Perspectives

The Church of England's bi-annual conference around funeral ministry returns in June 2017, with a wider look at death, grief and funerals, and fresh perspectives on cultural change around funerals, including trends from other countries which are finding their way to the UK.

The conference includes a wide range of thought-provoking workshops and plenary sessions, given by national and international speakers. Also included is a special visit to the National Funeral Exhibition, the funeral industry's showcase event.

Plenary Sessions include:

  • The English Funeral: research insights, public expectations around funerals, death and dying and cultural shifts that are happening in the UK right now
  • What makes a good funeral, with insights from current USA trends that are coming our way
  • Nurturing death confident congregations
  • Issues around funeral poverty
  • How the church is still key to public grief

Workshops include:

  • Preaching and funerals
  • Poetry and death
  • Funeral poverty
  • Grieving well
  • Creative liturgy
  • Children, death and funerals
  • Working well with funeral directors

Click on the tabs to find out more


Residential delegates:

£299 excluding VAT (£358.80 total). Please see below for details of how to send your payment.

Day delegates:

Weds 7th June: £75 excluding VAT (£90 total)

Thurs 8th June: £100 excluding VAT (including gala dinner) (£120 total)

Fri 9th June: £75 excluding VAT (£90 total)

If your diocese, church or organisation is paying for your place,  and is VAT registered and a registered charity, they may be able to claim back VAT. Please check with them for details.

How to pay

An invoice will be sent out for both your deposit and the balance of the payment, please do not send payment before you receive your invoice. Details of how to pay will be included on your invoice.

What's included

Residential places

Residential places include all conference sessions meals, from dinner on the night of 7th June until lunch on 9th June, accommodation, coach transport to the National Funerals Exhibition, entry to the National Funerals exhibition, and gala dinner on night of 8th June.

For details of session content and conference timings, please check the Programme page. More details will be added as they become available.

Please note that whilst the majority of residential delegates will be at Woodland Grange, some delegates will be placed in suitable offsite ensuite accommodation. Transport to Woodland Grange will be provided, and all meals will be taken at Woodland Grange. Accommodation at Woodland Grange will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Day places

Day places include lunch and dinner on the day selected, plus all conference sessions on that day. For timings of sessions and content, please check the Programme page.

Day places for 8th June include the gala dinner. Day places for 9th June include transport and entry to the National Funeral Exhibition.

Other information

Car Parking

There is plenty of free car parking available on site


There are rooms with disabled facilities available, and all bedrooms have lift access. Please contact us with details of your requirements.


Further details of the sessions will appear here when they become available. All timings may change slightly.

Wednesday 7th June

12:15  Registration opens

13:00  Optional lunch (extra cost of £15 plus VAT, £18 total)

14:00  Optional pre-conference events, including GraveTalk cafe, 'soapbox' speakers and bookshop

15:30  Registraton closes at offsite accommodation

15:40  Registration closes at Woodland Grange

16:00 Conference opens- welcome and opening prayer with the Rt Revd. John Holbrook.

16:15  Plenary 1: "Raising the Questions", with Dr Linda Woodhead and The Revd. Canon Dr Sandra Millar.

17:45  Break for dinner

20:15  Plenary 2: "Building death confident congregations", with the Revd. Dr David Primrose

21:00  Networking session

22:00  Optional Compline with conference chaplain

Thursday 8 June

07:30  Optional Morning Prayer with conference chaplain

08:45  Registration for day delegates

09:15  Plenary 3: The Good Funeral, with Professor Thomas Long and Thomas Lynch.

10:15  Coffee break

10:45  Continuation of Plenary 3.

12:15  The National Funeral Exhibition, with Sandra Millar

12:30  Lunch

14:00  Workshop session 1

14:50 Afternoon tea break

15:10  Workshop session 2

16:15  Free time

17:45 Conference Eucharist

19:30  Pre-dinner drinks

20:00 Gala dinner, with guest speaker Martin Palmer on 'Dead Spaces'

22:00  Optional Compline with conference chaplain

Friday 9 June

07:30  Optional Morning Prayer with conference chaplain

08:45  Registration for day delegates

09:00  Board coaches to the National Funeral Exhibition at Stoneleigh

12:15  Board coaches to return to Woodland Grange for lunch

14:00  Plenary 4: "The church beyond the church: The Revd Canon Dr Alan Billings

15:00  Keynote speaker panel questions and discussion

15:30  Closing prayer, conference ends 


More information about plenary sessions and speakers will appear here when it is available.

Conference host

The Rt Revd. John Holbook, Bishop of Brixworth.

Plenary speakers

Dr Linda Woodhead, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Lancaster University. Linda will be speaking on 'The English Funeral', sharing her research and insights on cultural change.

The Revd Canon Dr Sandra Millar, Head of Projects and Developments, The Archbishops' Council. Sandra will be joining Linda to speak on 'The English Funeral', and will include insights on the public's perspections of funerals, death and dying.

Professor Thomas Long, from Emory Universary, Atlanta, Georgia and Thomas Lynch, acclaimed US poet and author, will be speaking on what makes a good funeral, with key insights from current trends in the USA which may be making their way to the UK.

The Revd Canon Alan Billings, author, priest and politican, will be speaking on 'The Public Funeral' looking at how the church is still key to holding moments of public grief.

The Revd Dr David Primrose, Director of Transforming Communities at the Diocese of Lichfield, will host a presentation and conversation about dying, grief, dementia, funeral poverty and nurturing death confident congregations, based on his work in Lichfield Diocese.

Workshop speakers and more workshop sessions will be announced nearer the time. Sessions confirmed at present include:

Preaching at funerals with Thomas Long

Poetry and death with Thomas Lynch

Mourning well speaker tbc

A good service with Janet Henderson

Children and death with Dorothy Moore Brooks

Ageing well with Anne Richards and John Barton

Working well with funeral directors with Juliet Stephenson

Talking death on social media with Adrian Harris

Memorialisation with Jeremy Brooks


All residential places and day delegate places for Friday 9th June include a visit to the National Funeral Exhibition at Stoneleigh. More information on the conference is available here.


Click play below to see a short video of our visit to the National Funeral Exhibition in 2015

Woodland Grange is an award-winning residential conference venue in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire set in 16 acres of beautiful grounds, located at the heart of the midlands motorway and rail network.

Woodland Grange
Old Milverton Lane
Leamington Spa
CV32 6RN


For more information about Woodland Grange click here.