According to the Cremation Association of North America, cremations are increasing due to factors like low costs, flexibility, and convenience. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the top five factors driving an increase in cremations is growing religious acceptance of the practice. Although many people still prefer traditional burial to cremation, some churches have accepted the practice and are even creating burial places for cremated remains.
In keeping with the trend, several Philadelphia-area churches have incorporated cremation memorials into their grounds. One such church is the Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downington. Just last year, the church unveiled a memorial garden for scattering and two columbaria to house cremated remains. Four more structures are planned for future cremation burials.
At Bryn Mawr’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, cremations outnumber burials by 3 to 1. The church, which had reserved 15 acres in 1960 for expansion, used the space to construct two columbaria that each holds 96 cremation urns. At Paoli Presbyterian Church, space for cremated remains is quite popular. About 100 people have already reserved space in the brick wall surrounding the church’s garden, and another 150 people plan to have their ashes scattered in the memorial garden.
While some churches and religions accept cremation as an alternative to burial, others have stipulations. For example, the Catholic Church prefers burial, but it allows cremation with caveats. The Catholic Church adheres to the notion that a person’s body must be treated with respect, mandating that the deceased’s body must be present for a pre-cremation funeral service and the remains should be buried instead of scattered. Members of other faiths, such as Judaism and Islam, have a much bigger preference for traditional burial over cremation.
It’s a sign of the times that Philadelphia-area churches are making space for cremation burials on their grounds. As burial plots are filled and memorial space becomes scarce, columbaria and scattering gardens provide a respectful, space-saving alternative to families. Having your ashes scattered in a memorial garden or interred in a columbarium is not only desirable for economical reasons, but also for symbolic reasons. It’s a nice idea to think about being buried with members of your congregation or community in the same garden, wall, or structure. And for some, it reminds us that remembering the dead is a powerful collective experience.
The choice between cremation and traditional burial is a personal one that requires careful consideration. Philadelphia Cremation Society helps you understand the process, answers your questions, and helps you plan a professional Philadelphia cremation service. Call us today to learn more: (610) 572-7078