Imagine you are having a conversation with someone who just so happens to mention the fact that their local church is now building a columbarium. How would you respond? Are you familiar with columbariums? Do you know what a columbarium is? Or would this be the first time you have heard of a columbarium? If the word columbarium is Greek to you, then after reading this article you will be able to carry on a decent conversation should the topic ever arise - and it very well could because columbariums are on the rise.
A columbarium happens to be a permanent resting place for someone who has been cremated rather than buried. Once a person has been cremated (burned to ash), his or her cremains are often placed into a bag, a box, or an urn. Columbariums have individual niches or compartments to hold the containers in which the cremains have been placed.
Columbariums may be free-standing structures, or an interior section of a larger building – such as a church building. Family members or friends who wish to visit the deceased may also wish for privacy so columbariums are often constructed to provide a sense of solitude or designed to provide the peace and serenity that only nature can provide.
A recent article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram entitled “Arlington church joins trend by building columbarium” happens to bring this topic home in today's world. Because of the rising costs of caskets, burial plots, and funerals, spending $5000 to $10,000+ is not uncommon. Immediate cremation (without visitation) for around $1000 sounds like an incredible bargain. Combine that with an additional columbarium compartment fee of perhaps $1500 - $2000 and you could still save thousands.
The potential savings of cremation + columbarium (versus casket + burial) for individuals and families, as well as the potential cash-flow for a favorite local church seems to make for a win-win scenario. But is that enough reason to turn to cremation rather than burial? What does the Bible say, if anything, about burial versus cremation? What kind of reasoning is there to support both sides of this issue?
Come back for Part Two where we will delve a little deeper into this subject.