Recently, we have received a number of questions concerning designing and installing a columbarium inside a church or an organization’s facility. The high density of a columbarium means that relatively little space is required. A suitable location can almost always be found. Many churches are finding areas that have no other use and the planning of and installation of a columbarium has been a very successful project. The opportunity to create a columbarium inside the church or an organization facility is a rapidly growing portion of the industry.
A columbarium inside opens up other options of materials that can be used since it won’t have to weather a storm and will provide a beautiful memorial. There are many different materials that can be used to construct your inside columbarium. The use of marbles, glass and sometimes wood can be selected. If the columbarium program is inside a building, glass front niches are nice to have for the columbarium. The urns will show through and the glass lets any meaningful memorabilia the family places in the niche to be seen. I had a friend who died not too long ago and his mother put his favorite hat in his niche with the urn that holds his cremains. Though you can’t see his hat when you visit him, because he is in a columbarium that is outside and it is granite; it was special for his family and friends to see it placed in the niche the day of his interment.
We have a client that wanted to put the columbarium in their chapel behind their altar. Their chapel is used for special occasions. It brought a beauty to the altar area and the families were very pleased. Another ideal area is to put the columbarium, as well as a tribute wall; in the hallway inside the facility among the classrooms. As members walk from classes to class or to the main meeting area, they pass their loved ones, creating a real connection. Others have included the columbarium in their auditorium area against the back and side walls. Some use a small office area or room to have the columbarium, giving a private place for the families. Some of our clients just have tribute walls in their facility without a columbarium. The members place plaques on them in remembrance of a loved one or in remembrance of a special event.
Being inside in a temperature controlled environment is pleasing to the families and enjoyed by other visitors. Because we never know what the weather may be, having the columbarium inside is helpful when an interment take place. The family stays dry and comfortable. When planning an inside columbarium, you will want to consider “accessibility”. Do you want to set times the columbarium will be open or do you want do have it accessibility all the time and it needs to have its own entrance? Working with your design/build partner will help you with these decisions.
Having a columbarium in a church facility becomes a part of the living church. Often family members will visit every week before, or after, the church services. Families, who have loved ones in a church columbarium, are more inclined to remain faithful to that church. It is a wonderful ministry to provide to your members. Because so many of us spend so much of our adult lives at our church, it just makes sense. It is also a way to support and comfort family members who’s loved one pass.
Interior columbarium programs offer many choices, look at the options and discuss the many possibilities with your design-build partner.