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St. Thomas' Episcopal Church
315 Lindsey Street • Reidsville, N.C.

Burial in the St. Thomas Columbarium
Burial in the Church – Not from the Church


Is Cremation Christian?

Is Cremation a New Idea?

How Much Does it Cost?

What If Someone Wishes to be Interred in the Columbarium, But Cannot Afford a Niche?

How Is the Money Received from the Purchase of Niches Used?

May the Family Select a Memorial Plaque of Its Own Design?

May Persons Who Are Not Members of St. Thomas Be Interred in the Columbarium?

How Many Persons May be Interred in a Niche?

What If It Becomes Necessary to Move the Remains of Someone Interred in the Columbarium?

How Can I Learn More about the St. Thomas Columbarium?


A Columbarium is an area reserved for the interment of cremated remains of the deceased, in dignified surroundings on consecrated grounds. It is a place for meditation and private prayer.

When a person agrees to have his or her ashes interred in the churchyard, that person leaves his or her name as well, and that name lives on as a witness. Burial in church grounds makes a statement that a person was a believer, a recognition of the belief in the community of saints, living and dead, a witness to the faith. Persons interred in the Columbarium remain a part of the parish, a part of the community that the parish represents.

Is Cremation Christian?

As Christians, we regard burning as a properly reverent way of disposing of other objects. If we need to destroy things which have been blessed for religious use (prayer books, altar linens, palms) we burn them. By common Christian consent, we agree that there is no more reverent way of destroying that which has been set apart and used to the glory of God. Christians who favor cremation have every right or reason to cite this principal in support of their case. Whether we cremate or bury the body, it passes from our sight. But it can never pass from God’s sight. Our beloved departed are in God’s hands, in death as in life, whatever disposition is made of their mortal bodies, which by God’s mercy they have outgrown.

Is Cremation a New Idea?

Cremation is certainly not a “modern” invention. The ancient Greeks, as long ago as 1200 B.C., cremated and burned their dead and buried their ashes in large urns. The concept of burial in the consecrated ground of the Church is an old one, sound theologically and practically. “Practically” because cremation is economical. The Episcopal Church U.S.A. supports cremation and it is a wise use of God’s creation, even in death. “Theologically” it is sound as well. If the parish is the center of life – baptism, confirmation, marriage – then death and burial should be also. Cremation is also an example of land stewardship.

How Much Does it Cost?

Cremation and interment in the Columbarium at St. Thomas is much less expensive than other forms of interment. Funeral costs have soared in recent years. Information regarding the current cost of acquiring a niche in St. Thomas’ Columbarium may be obtained from the Church office. Payment can be in a lump sum or in monthly installments. If the latter method of payment is chosen, there is a slight increase in the cost of acquiring a niche. The cost of niches to persons who are not members of St. Thomas is somewhat higher than the price charged to members of our parish.

What If Someone Wishes to be Interred in the Columbarium, But Cannot Afford a Niche?

Despite the low cost of acquiring a niche, the Vestry of St. Thomas recognizes that this situation may occur. If a family wishes a loved one to be interred in the Columbarium, but either cannot afford the cost of a niche and memorial plaque, or cannot pay the entire cost, application should be discreetly made to the Rector. These matters are kept strictly confidential. Individual applications for assistance in the purchase of a niche and/or memorial plaque are considered on a case by case basis.

How Is the Money Received from the Purchase of Niches Used?

St. Thomas guarantees perpetual care of the Columbarium. Funds received from the sale of niches are used for Columbarium purposes only.

May the Family Select a Memorial Plaque of Its Own Design?

The Episcopal Church views everyone as equal in the eyes of God. In addition, the Vestry requires that memorial plaques be kept simple and as uniform as possible. Memorial plaques must be ordered through St. Thomas. The family of the deceased is billed the cost of the plaque plus an additional 10% to covering the costs of ordering and installing the plaque.

May Persons Who Are Not Members of St. Thomas Be Interred in the Columbarium?

Yes, but there are some restrictions. Persons who are not members of St. Thomas but who wish to be interred in the Columbarium may apply to the Vestry for permission to purchase a niche. A slightly higher purchase price is charged. Anyone not a member of St. Thomas who desires to purchase a niche for use in interment, should contact the Church office for information.

How Many Persons May be Interred in a Niche?

As many as two persons (for example, a husband and wife) may be interred in a single niche. Of course, such double interment will involve some additional cost for reopening and closing the niche and installing a new memorial plaque. At the time of the second interment in the niche, a new plaque must be ordered in conformity with the requirements of uniformity throughout the Columbarium.


What If It Becomes Necessary to Move the Remains of Someone Interred in the Columbarium?

If the decision to move the remains of a deceased is that of the family, all expenses incurred must be borne by the family. St. Thomas will repurchase the niche at the original price paid by the family. There is no refund or repurchase of the memorial plaque, however. If removal is due to a decision of St. Thomas or for reasons beyond the control of anyone, the expense of removal will be borne by St. Thomas.

How Can I Learn More about the St. Thomas Columbarium?

Current policies regarding the Columbarium are on file in a notebook maintained in the parish office. During regular business hours, anyone wishing to learn more about the Columbarium may review these policies in the parish office. There is a limited number of niches in the Columbarium and a chart showing which niches are available for purchase is in the notebook. 

It should be a comfort to those who contemplate having the ashes of their dear ones placed in a niche here to feel that they will be on grounds consecrated to the worship and service of God.


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This page was last updated 10/03/08