What is a Columbarium?
The word “columbarium” is derived from Latin and translates as compartment house for doves, the gentle birds mentioned in Scripture and recognized internationally as symbols of peace. “Columbarium” means a concentrated area reserved for the internment of a deceased’s cremated remains. Set in a dignified place around the structure of a church , the columbarium is also a place available for meditation and prayer.
Why a Columbarium?
The concept of internment in church property is an old one, dating from the very beginnings of Christianity. It is sound for both theological and practical reasons. Since the earliest days of the Christian Church, disciples have been concerned with the reverent disposal of the faithful departed. Such remains were typically placed in cemeteries, crypts and columbaria set apart for this purpose. Logically, the most treasured location for such reposition was within the church grounds.
Theologically, the Church is a Christian home and the place where brothers and sister in Christ meet to worship Almighty God. In the Church they become members of the Body of Christ through baptism, make profession of faith, perhaps married, and ultimately sent into eternal life with the prayers and remembrances of their congregation. Church internment provides a permanent link between deceased Christians and their preferred house of worship during this life. This allows their surviving family members, friends and fellow worshippers to pay frequent respects during regular church visits.
John Witvliet has given a presentation on the theological basis relative to cremation.
There are a number of columbaria in Grand Rapids with varied designs; some are inside, others outside. What most of them have in common is their construction. They are usually manufactured in modules called niches. For example one unit, just 15 inches square, by 9 inches deep. A plaque with the name and date of birth and death is placed on the outside of the niche. These units can vary in size and some are constructed to accommodate two persons. The units are stacked and secured to each other and to a wall or on proper footing. The stack can be one or several units in height and can be added to a necessary.
A niche is usually sold by the church to its membership with a part of the cost being for the niche and bronze nameplate. The units are placed wherever the church may decide. A committee would oversee the columbarium program, set rules, handle sales and buy-backs for those who, for any reason may later choose another option, expand the numbers of units and/or the site, oversee the care of the site, etc.
As for the cost of a niche to a church member, it varies from church to church depending on style of niches, type of face plates, cost of installation, The average cost for purchase is $1250.00
If you have an interest please answer the following non obligating survey questions:
I am interested in favor of a Columbarium: yes no
Are you planning on being cremated: yes no
Would you buy a niche in the COS Columbarium: yes no
Replies can be put in their church mailboxes. Please provide your name