The word “columbarium” is derived from a Latin word and is the singular form of the word while “columbaria” is the plural form.

What are columbaria? They are a means of memorializing the remains of loved ones. For those to whom it may not be clear, a columbarium is a is a series of vertically stacked compartments, called niches, housed in a wall like structure used to inter or inurn cremated human remains.  Columbaria  can be located inside a church, mausoleum, some other structure, or can be free standing outdoors, as the ones that PCUMC will have in the Memorial Garden at our new campus.

They can be quite large containing hundreds of niches or relatively small with only a few niches.  All 200 niches in “our” three columbaria walls are companion sized niches which means that they may contain one or two urns of cremated remains.

The niches are semi-permanently sealed compartments for placing and storage of urns or boxes containing the cremated remains of the deceased.  Some niches can be very small and contain only a small box-like container. Some niches are a little larger for a single standing urn. Other, still larger ones called “companion niches” can contain two urns.

The primary advantage of columbaria is price.  The cost for reserving a columbarium niche is roughly 20-30% of the cost of a below ground burial with a plot, casket, burial vault, and modestly priced grave marker.  The columbarium niche is covered by a granite cover which will be inscribed with the name or names of the inurned and their life dates as is done on a typical grave marker. This provides an additional advantage over the spreading of the ashes by providing a memorial to visit and experience a sense of nearness when remembering loved ones.

As for the process of cremation, it usually takes from two to four hours by a licensed funeral home or cremation service. The cremated remains are then processed to a granular texture.  In Genesis 3:19, God said to Adam, “ By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” 

According to the Funerals Consumer Alliance, the number of cremations in the United States has steadily risen from about 15% of deaths in the 1990s to almost 55 percent in 2019, and currently approaching 70%. Cremation is often chosen because it’s simpler and more economical, and allows more flexibility in funeral and memorial services, and it uses less of our land resources than traditional earth burial.  Any columbaria inurnment must be preceded by the cremation process.

For additional information, notify the church office at 386-445-1600, and you will be contacted by a member of the Trustee Columbarium Committee.

After an introductory period for our congregation, we plan to open the eligibility to the Florida United Methodist Conference.