Memorializing the Dead

Event time: 
Thursday, June 24, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:15pm
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Free, but register in advance
Open to: 
General Public
Event description: 

Memorializing the Dead

What light can members of the clergy, funeral professionals, and musicians shed on the liturgical and practical challenges of funerals and memorial services?


Thomas G. Long
Author of Accompany Them with Singing—The Christian Funeral, and Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University


James Abbington
Executive editor of the African American Church Music Series, GIA Publications;  Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

John Horan
Funeral Director and Owner, Horan & McConaty, Denver, CO

The Rev. Michael L. Lewis, S.T.L.
Parochial Vicar, St. Mark’s Catholic Church, El Paso, TX; COVID-19 Ministry Team, Diocese of El Paso

Jennifer McBride
Grief Counselor and Certified Celebrant, Horan & McConaty, Denver, CO

Zoom Registration

Note: Your registration is valid for the entire series; feel free to attend whichever session(s) you want.

This is the second of a four-part series “Accompanying the Dying and the Dead in the Time of COVID.” | series information

Presenter Bios

Dr. Thomas G. Long is Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. His introductory homiletics textbook, The Witness of Preaching, has been translated into a number of languages and is widely used in theological schools around the world. In 2010, Preaching magazine named it one of the 25 most influential books in preaching for the last 25 years. Dr. Long gave the distinguished Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale, which were published in his 2009 book Preaching from Memory to Hope. Dr. Long is also deeply interested in biblical studies, practical theology, and liturgy. His books on the Christian funeral, Accompany Them with Singing and The Good Funeral (co-authored with noted poet and funeral director Thomas Lynch), have generated interest both in the academy and the media. Another book, What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith, addresses the issue of innocent suffering and the goodness of God, and was selected as Book of the Year for 2011 by the Academy of Parish Clergy. An ordained minister int he Presbyterian Church (USA), Dr. Long served as the senior homiletics editor of The New Interpreter’s Bible, and he is associate editor of Journal for Preachers and editor-at-large for the Christian Century. Emory University awarded him the Emory Williams Award for teaching excellence in 2011.

Dr. W. James Abbington is Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA. His research interests include music and worship in the Christian church, African American sacred folk music, organ, choral music, and ethnomusicology. He serves as executive editor of the African American Church Music Series for GIA Publications (Chicago) and has produced numberous recordings for the publisher as well. One of the nation’s most respected choir directors, musicians and authors, Dr. Abbington is a popular speaker, performer and conductor at universities, conferences, symposiums and churches around the world. From 2000 to 2010, he served as co-director of music for the Hampton University Ministers’ and Musicians’ Conference, and as the national director of music for both the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the NAACP. In 2010, Hampton’s Choir Directors and Organists Guild honored Abbington by naming their Church Music Academy after him, and in 2015, he became the second African American to be named a Fellow of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.

John Horan is a life-long resident of Denver.  He is a graduate of the University of Colorado with a B.S. in Business and received an A.S. from the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science. He is a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner from the Academy of Professional Funeral Practice and a Certified Mortuary Science Professional from the Colorado Funeral Service Board.  John formed Horan & McConaty in 1986, adding numerous other affiliates in the years that followed. The company grew to become the largest independent in the Rocky Mountain Region and one of Colorado’s Top 50 family-owned companies, as designated by ColoradoBiz Magazine. In 2011, John was named CEO of the Year in Colorado. Together with Jennifer McBride, John founded The HeartLight Center, providing support to grieving people throughout Colorado, and now expanding to other cities in the U.S. Now semi-retired, John served in numerous leadership capacities for national associations in his field and retired as chairman of The Denver Hospice after 16 years.  He continues to be involved in leadership and philanthropy for Selian Hospice in Arusha, Tanzania and serves as chair of the National Lao-Hmong Memorial Foundation.

The Rev. Michael L. Lewis is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso and is currently parochial vicar of Saint Mark’s Catholic Church in his hometown of El Paso, Texas. Over the last year, as part of the diocese’s Covid-19 Ministry Team, he has ministered to hundreds of patients and their families directly impacted by the pandemic, as well as to thousands more in the Borderland region, one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Previously a journalist for newspapers in Texas and Florida, and later for the U.S. Army, Fr. Mike received a licentiate in sacred theology degree and a master’s in divinity degree from The Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois; studied theology at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana; and received a bachelor’s degree in theology and philosophy from Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. He is a board member of the Southwest Liturgical Conference, and active in the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.

Jennifer McBride, MA, FT, DM, served at Horan & McConaty Funeral Service as Director of Grief Support and Community Education since 1996 until her recent semi-retirement. She is a Deacon of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America serving the Rocky Mountain Synod in her call at Horan & McConaty. She holds a Master’s in Pastoral Ministry from St. Thomas Theological Seminary and is a Fellow in Thanatology of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Working together with John Horan and his mother, Valerie Horan, a vision was followed in 1998 and in 2003 Heartlight Center, a not-for-profit organization offering grief support groups and programs in Denver Colorado, began its work caring for grieving people. HeartLight Center now offers 12 different groups every month and is beginning to grow to other cities .  Heartlight also offers a four-week grief education and support program called “Facing the Mourning” and is designed to be facilitated locally within congregations and communities. Participants are supported in building memorials, writing letters, journaling and setting goals with milestones.

Time to Heal, (c) 2016 by John August Swanson
Giclee, 16.5” x 13.5”