The Homegoing Service: What to Expect at This Revered Celebration of Life

Homegoing celebration

The ‘homegoing’ is a time-honored Christian funeral or memorial rite among the African American community.

In this beloved ceremony, friends and family celebrate the departed "going home" to be with the Lord. The homegoing is a jubilant service filled with reverence and an outpouring of delight because the person who passed on is going to Heaven. In this article, we will explore the nuances of the homegoing ceremony and its many fascinating aspects.


Homegoings are among the earliest forms of African-American culture.

The funeral portion of the homegoing service follows many of the same practices as any other Christian funeral service. They include pallbearers, flowers, and decorations, and the service is typically held in a church or place of worship. Because African-American Christians believe death marks the return to the Lord and an end to the pain and suffering of mortal life, the homegoing service is an occasion filled with great joy.


A homegoing service usually contains most or all of these elements:

  • Musical prelude
  • Processional
  • Prayers
  • Hymns of comfort
  • Funeral readings (scripture - Old Testament and New Testament, poetry, prayer) and acknowledgments
  • Reading of cards and condolences
  • Reading of funeral resolutions
  • Obituary reading
  • Funeral sermon by a pastor or church official
  • Eulogy or tribute
  • Final viewing
  • Benediction
  • Recessional, and interment or committal 


They can be elaborate, lengthy affairs.

One factor that differentiates homegoing services from other funeral services is that they can span many hours. They last as long as needed and are usually filled with music, prayer, and storytelling. In addition to the eulogy, there is typically a sermon and a choir may sing several gospel hymns, usually favorites of the departed. Friends and relatives are encouraged to speak to the congregation about the life and special qualities of the person who passed away. Stories, tributes, devotions, and words of comfort are offered, which may extend the service well beyond the timeframe of a traditional funeral.


Mourners wear their 'Sunday best'.

Funeral fashion at a homegoing service often involves formal church wear, complete with boutonnieres and extravagant hats. Though many attendees choose to wear full black mourning attire, bright colors are often worn at homegoing ceremonies, as well. 


Each homegoing service is unique.

They are highly personalized ceremonies, tailored to the preferences of the departed and the needs of surviving family members. In recent years, the variety of funerary themes has increased and often includes magnificent funeral programs, keepsake items, immersive video productions, and grand receptions brimming with delectable fare.


A homegoing is more than just a funeral—it's also a celebration of African-American culture, music, and love. At Evan W. Smith Funeral Services, we are here to help you create a meaningful homegoing service for your departed loved one. If you have questions or wish to make arrangements, please reach out to us anytime.


About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit

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