“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 – NIV) Today, I launch a new clergy collegial blog. I hope we will encourage and empower each other toward success and excellence in pastoral ministry. As I sit in the Pastor’s Study at Cambria Heights Community Church, I often ponder the possible feedback of clergy colleagues as it relates to preparing sermons, counseling in particularly difficult situation, designing fresh worship, balancing competing priorities of ministry, marriage and family, maintaining self-care, pursuing personal dreams and private interests outside of ministry and family, and finding resources to meet the ever evolving and changing needs of the people whom I serve. After a sustained period of prayer, reflection and meditation, I realize I can invite you to come “In The Pastor’s Study” for an exchange of ideas.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Model of a Pastoral Condolence Letter

Model of a Pastoral Condolence Letter

Below, I offer a model of a pastoral condolence letter which I send to bereaved congregants and persons within our extended church family.  I personalize the letter with very specific references to the addressees and decedent.  Additionally, I include a list of “Scriptures Relating to Healing from Grief” which you will find elsewhere on this blog. 

5 January 2012

Dear Brother or Sister:

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior!  I hope this letter finds you in good health, spiritually and physically.

As  a few days have passed since the loss of your beloved mother, I pray that you have known God’s grace and healing power in a formidable way.  My wife and I offer our belated yet most genuine condolences to you, your husband, son and extended family.  Your mother was a very supportive person of my ministry at Cambria Heights Community Church.  For her affirmations and enduring wisdom, I remain forever grateful.  I am sure the CHCC family greatly misses her as she was a stalwart member of our church rarely if ever missing Sunday Morning Worship, Weekly Bible Study and Prayer Meeting and special services.  I regret her health challenges in her final days robbed her of the pleasure of attending church and us of the blessing of seeing her.  Her wisdom, integrity, poise and genuineness were vital to the church leadership.  Moreover, my family and I greatly appreciated her genuine concern for our well-being.  Consistently and sincerely, she inquired about my family.  Throughout the year and half we have been at CHCC, your mother remains one of the most genuine people we have met.

The Cambria Heights Community Church family and I can only imagine the depth of your pain and loss, as you journey in life without your beloved mother.  You have been and shall remain in our prayers.  We hope that Almighty God will graciously grant  you and your family a new revelation of His unfailing love and comforting presence.    May His infinite wisdom, benevolent majesty and gracious mystery give you some immediate relief, sustain your healing process and provide you perpetual hope for the living of these days.

Daily, I recall the many sayings and enduring wisdom of my beloved grandmother.  It is as if the relationship continues without interruption, although I am most cognizant of her physical absence.    Personally and pastorally, I pray that your memories will allow you to continue your relationship and friendship with your mother until such time that Almighty God will graciously grant you the privilege of a reunion.  Additionally, I pray that the funeral services will minister to you for many years to come.  Please know that we will be faithful in our commitment to pray for you and your family.  

As I reflect upon the loss of your beloved mother, I relate to the deep sense of loss and bewilderment that this bereavement causes you.  Periodically, I struggle with the inexplicability of the car accident that took the life of my brother, Curtis, after whom I named my son.  Its suddenness and senselessness remains amazing to me.  I feel cheated of his presence.  I wonder about the many wonderful and different things that he would have accomplished in life, had his flame not been blown out by chance and circumstance.  Yet, I remain steadfast in the goodness, correctness and faithfulness of Almighty God in such dilemmas.

I pray that time will be good to you.  I hope that Almighty God will grant you the peace and comfort of His presence.  Additionally, I hope that the many daily conversations that you had with your mother will flood your mind, heart and soul.  May these memories console and sustain you in this challenging hour of bereavement.

Humbly, I hope that my words will also help you as you journey on this difficult road.  I have enclosed a list of “Scriptures Relating to Healing from Grief.”  Over the next year, you may find them helpful as you accept the physical loss of your mother and the transformation of your relationship with her.

Lastly, I pray that the trustworthiness of the Lord’s words in John 11:25-26 will carry you forward.  On behalf of our church family, please share our thoughts with your beloved family.

In Christ’s Ministry to the Whole Person,
The Reverend Victor Michael Singletary, Pastor


  1. This is a terrible letter with no real sympathy its to business like for a member of your church and a person you once knew and cared for.

  2. I think the concept is excellent. We often forget to do follow-up care after all of the services, meals, hurriedness of the visitations, viewings , funeral, gravesite services are all over. I can make it as loving and caring as I may wish. Thank you for the very thought and example.
    Rev. Brenda J. Gregg

  3. Been browsing for some nice condolence card messages or just any words to uplift and comfort people who are downhearted. I felt happy to have found this inspirational page of yours. These words are very nice. Thanks and keep sharing :)

  4. Intent is good; content is bad. I don't think all the references to his losses should be included in the letter. It seems to be too focused on him and not the grieving family he should be trying to console, encourage, and uplift (especially where he mentions his brother dying in a car accident). We've all gone through times of sadness in our lives, but by including them in your condolence letter seems very inappropriate. This is a time where it is about the bereaved, not him. The only good part is the Scripture.

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