In my post of September 29, 2014, I spoke of how, as a pastors, Jenny and I represent the church at funerals (and weddings). Representing the church is also why we want to be present at all funeral services held at First United Methodist Church. We are happy to have the church open to non-members for funeral services, but the sanctuary is not just a hall to be rented out: it is a holy place, set aside for the church to worship God. When one of us is there in our representative role, the church is there and the sanctuary’s purpose is fulfilled. That is the theological reason for our officiating even when there is to be a guest preacher assisting with the service.
The other reason for being there even when there is a guest preacher is less lofty. As your pastors, we are responsible for what is said from the pulpit. I’ve never felt the need to dispute something that was said from the pulpit, but I have, on occasion, attempted to provide a gentle redirect after a sermon by a guest preacher. We feel that we have a duty to be present when the church is used for a wedding or funeral in order to provide that course correction if necessary.