The Barefoot Eulogist – by Bruce C. Salmon

Eulogy is derived from the Greek eu and logos, meaning “good word.” A eulogy is a good word about a person who has died, usually spoken during a funeral or memorial service, or sometimes at a graveside committal service. During my 33 years as pastor of Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland, I delivered many eulogies for church members, former church members, family of church members, and other persons in the community. Over the years I also have given eulogies for my own family members: my grandmother, my sister-in-law, my father, my sister, and my brother-in-law. Serving as a eulogist is one of my most important and meaningful ministries.

The purpose of a eulogy is at least threefold: to give voice to our grief, to remember the person who has died, and to lift up our Christian hope. My goal in writing and delivering the eulogy is to tell the story of the person with honesty and compassion, and to comfort the family and friends with the assurance of God’s presence and our hope of life eternal.

A eulogy can include reflections on passages of scripture, but the focus is on the individual who is being remembered and on our Christian hope in the face of loss. Unlike sermons where I often use illustrations from my own life, eulogies tell the stories of someone else, and I seek to minimize my own footprints, except in relationship to the person being remembered.

Eulogies are more reflective and less didactic than sermons. They invite us to reflect upon the lives of persons no longer with us, but whose influence is still being felt. Eulogies seek the presence of God in the aftermath of loss. They speak a good word both about the persons remembered and about the God who holds them—and us.

The eulogist speaks for the person who is no longer with us, and for the family and friends of that person, and yes, the eulogist speaks for God. It is an awesome responsibility to speak for others, and yet it can be done. Even if I know the person who had died, I seek to learn as much about that person as I can.

The purpose of this book is to provide examples of eulogies I have given, in the hope that these examples might help other eulogists in the art and craft of writing tributes to those who have died, provide consolation for those who are grieving, and lift up the Christian promise of eternal life.

Surviving family members have given me permission to share these eulogies of their loved ones, both as a way to remember them and to help others. At the conclusion of each chapter, I offer some reflections on the eulogy given, as a way of prompting the reader to reflect on how it was crafted and how the basic principles of writing a eulogy can be adapted to each particular circumstance.

Bruce C. Salmon

Bruce C. Salmon

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Salmon served for 33 years as pastor of Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland. He received his Bachelor of Arts with a major in English from Baylor University and the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Learn more about Salmon on his author page.









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