The traditional Church Cemetery with the white picket fence surrounding the perimeter exemplifies how churches have been providing for their community for centuries. As churches continue to expand and grow they are seeking new ways that they can support families during their darkest hour while meeting the needs of their faith community.
Statistically, cremation in North America is almost surpassing traditional casket burial. According to the Cremation Association of North America, in 2015 over 48.6% of Americans preferred cremation to in ground burial. (Where those cremains are interred is another blog.) Many still remain in the homes of loved ones waiting to find that perfect place for interment.
Creating a Columbarium Garden is fast becoming a popular choice for churches across America wishing to provide a meaningful funeral service for their congregations. Many states across the US allow for above ground interment columbaria on church property. The following list provides a few reasons to consider such a project.
1. The columbarium provides a place of remembrance for families wanting that connection with the church throughout all of life’s great events. The church wants to be there through all of life’s phases, from celebrating births and marriages, to commemorating a life once lived and all of those wonderful and challenging days in-between. The columbarium provides the congregation with that close connection to those who once past through the church doors.
2. The columbarium is a monument that honours past members of the congregation who have contributed to the church community. A well designed and beautifully constructed columbarium will not only act as a meaningful architectural feature to the church landscape but it also represents the historical contribution and legacy of those who helped to build the faith community.
3. Above ground interment using columbaria takes the complexity of traditional cemetery operations out of the equation, as the columbarium garden requires little to no maintenance. The granite structures are built to last, all that remains is to tend to the surrounding foliage. Interment is an easy process of opening and closing the niche. Arranging for inscriptions or ordering bronze plaques is all that is required.
4. The columbarium adds “value” to the landscape that surrounds the church. The niches can be either sold as a revenue builder to help support the church operations, or it can be used to help support families who struggle with interment costs and wish for a more cost effective means of interment.
Sunset’s Return on Investment Calculator will help churches determine the costs and returns whichever direction the congregation decides. (*It’s important to compare the cost of columbarium interment in the surrounding cemeteries.)
5. The columbarium provides a service for church members by providing a meaningful place of interment. After the funeral service, the congregation can simply walk outside together for the interment ceremony. There is no need to drive to the cemetery. The entire funeral service can remain on the church property: from the service, to the interment, to the family gathering.
6. Paying respects is much easier for families as they can visit the columbarium whenever they attend church, church meetings or those times when they wish to be closer to their place of spiritual connection.
7. Visitations to the columbarium garden also reinforces the meaningful connection with the family’s faith and church. It provides a close link to the community that cares about them and the family they love.
8. Cremation Statistics in 2017 are projected to surpass in-ground burial 51.6% to 42.3 %. By 2030 the National Funeral Directors Association is projecting statistics to increase to 71.1% to 23.2%. The trend towards cremation is fast becoming the norm.
9. Christian faiths from across the country are embracing cremation as an interment option. From United, to Methodists to Lutherans, to Presbyterians, even the Catholics (who once had strong feelings about burial traditions) are fast embracing columbaria interment.
10. A beautiful church columbarium garden setting can set the stage for “new funeral traditions” that will enhance the interment experience and meet the needs of the congregation.
Many churches across the country are seeking advice from columbarium manufacturers on how best to address this new and growing trend. Choose the company with a long track record for producing quality columbaria and have an excellent customer service record. Select the company that will have your church’s best interests at heart.