Cremation has been an accepted practice for thousands of years in differing cultures and a popular means of final disposition in the U.S. for some time. And now, one group who largely opposed the practice is starting to come around. Though many Christians may believe cremation is an affront to their chosen religion, more of their kind are choosing it as their final rite of passage. In fact, the Catholic church lessened their restrictions against cremation decades ago, allowing it as an option for burial, though under a new set of restrictions. Now, other denominations are making accommodations for those in their flock who are choosing this traditional option. According to a recent news story, some churches are even inviting those in their congregation to choose cremation.

According to a story by the Philadelphia Inquirer, one pastor at a local Methodist church has noticed the trend and has opened a memorial garden where people can remember their loved ones, no matter which burial method they’ve chosen. Hopewell United Methodist Church, under the leadership of pastor Steve Morton, has recently opened a memorial garden and two columbaria to accommodate all members of his congregation, buried or otherwise. Speaking on this, Reverend Morton said, “The church has got to get in there with something sacred and beautiful.” Morton also said his church plans to open another 4 columbaria to accommodate the growing trend of those choosing cremation as a part of their end-of-life plans.

In the earliest days of cremation, Christians voiced their opinions about this burial option, calling it a pagan ritual and “anti-christian.” For years their belief had been that since Christ was buried in a tomb, so should his followers. The Catholic church, specifically, claims their views were never meant to oppose cremation, per se, but to prefer “traditional” burial. The church first allowed cremation in certain situations where burial was not a safe and viable option. These circumstances included times of great disaster, such as after plagues or earthquakes. Today, the church continues to permit cremation among its followers, so long as they follow a certain set of rules.

The church started to allow cremations as early as the 1960s after recognizing the rising popularity of this choice amongst its followers. In years since, churches have worked hard to accommodate those who wish to be remembered in a church graveyard, cemetery, or columbaria. Some churches have begun adding buildings and memorials to accommodate the cremated remains of their congregation to allow their loved ones to stop by and remember fondly their loved ones and the lives they lived.

More and more people are choosing cremation as their best option for eternal remembrance. For many, the ability to preplan their cremation and even postpone their memorial service is an attractive and and efficient option. Those who choose cremation are able to choose where they’d like to be remembered, including a columbaria or memorial garden at their local church. Furthermore, preplanning a cremation gives people the freedom and flexibility to to be remembered exactly as they wish, even if they choose to be remembered forever in their church.