When we were at the Moody Bible Institution Pastor’s Conference, we first asked “What is a Columbarium” and then we explained “why” a church should consider a Columbarium Program.
The old traditional church cemetery or “grave yard” as some may have called it is a thing of the past. Mainly due to the high cost of maintaining the property, the lack of the volunteers that always show up on a Saturday morning to cut grass, straighten up the cemetery and have it looking good for that Sunday service at the church. The added regulations dealing with full casket burials have also made it very difficult for the church to promote and maintain a fully functioning cemetery. Additionally, in many States, the regulations for the operation of a cemetery have forever made it almost impossible for a church to operate a cemetery on its own grounds.
While those days are gone, todays church leaders and committee members are now involved in looking at other means to be of service to the church family who have chosen cremation and cremation memorialization. It just kind of makes sense. We are born in the church, Baptized in the church, married in the church and we spend our adult lives being active members of the church, yet, when we pass, we are “given” to someone else. Why? The answer is quite simple, most family members, and most churches do not have a program in place or a project in place called a Columbarium. So what does the Pastor do when a member’s loved one chose to be cremated and the survivor comes to the Pastor and asks what can I do with my loved ones cremains? They don’t want to keep the cremains on a shelve in their home, and they don’t want to put them in the cemetery’s columbarium across town where they don’t really go, but they want the cremains close.
Today’s church columbarium is a meaningful, thoughtful addition to the church and it will continue to develop and grow into the future as the cremation rate continues to grow in our country. A columbarium meets several needs within the church family as it provides a place of spirit, security, beauty and devotion. The church columbarium is just another mission of the church and it needs to be viewed and operated as a separate and individual program. Quite often a place or piece of property that is unused or perhaps between two buildings, a place that really has no use; rather, it is a maintenance issue for the organization. Taking up a space of no more than 30 feet wide and 50 feet deep provides a wonderful starting point for the Columbarium. Of Course, size of the space is really not the critical element; the passion to succeed by the organization is the key element to success.