Saint John’s Episcopal Church Columbarium

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a sacred place within a church set apart for the memorialization of loved ones lost, and for the care, placement and inurnment of their cremated remains.  A columbarium allows one to visit a final resting place in a serene interior environment.  A single space for “inurned” cremains is called a niche.  The interior dimensions of each niche are: 10” high and 10” wide and deep.  A simple cross and brass marker plate containing the decedent’s engraved name and dates of birth and death is affixed to the exterior facing of the niche.

How are arrangements made for committal prayers at the time of inurnment?

Typically, the final placement of the deceased’s remains, contained in a permanent cremation urn, occur immediately following the celebration of the Requiem Holy Eucharist and Committal Prayers contained in the Book of Common Prayer.  Following Committal Prayers, the columbarium niche will be appropriately sealed. Performing the actual inurnment and placement in the columbarium niche as part of the funeral liturgy is done at the discretion of the family.  An option would be to have the Service of Committal and placement of the urn in the columbarium done privately and separate from the funeral/requiem liturgy. It is the expectation of Saint John’s Episcopal Church that All Funeral or Memorial services preceding either traditional earth burial, inurnment in the Columbarium or burial of ashes, are to be celebrated within the context of the Holy Eucharist and Service of Christian Burial as indicated in the Book of Common Prayer.

Where are cremation urns obtained? What are the guidelines for urns?

The best available source for the purchase of a cremation urn is a funeral home.  All funeral homes offer cremation urns in a wide variety of shapes, themes and materials.  All cremated remains deposited in St. John’s Columbarium must be contained in an approved cremation urn. Columbarium niches at St. John’s can accommodate urns 10”x10”x10” (a size suitable for holding the cremated remains of one adult. Urns must be made of non-perishable material. Temporary containers made of plastic, Styrofoam, cardboard, paper, glass or other perishable or breakable materials are not suitable for placement in our Columbarium niches.

Who is eligible to be inurned in a columbarium niche at St. John’s?

Inurnment in Saint John’s Columbarium is available to communicants of Saint John’s Episcopal Church and their families; to former members who have relocated out of the diocese and others with familial connections to the parish. Consideration of eligibility in other cases will be made at the Rector’s discretion in consultation with the Senior Warden.

What does an individual Columbarium Niche cost, and what do they include?

The cost for a permanent, single niche, sized to contain the inurned cremated remains of one descendant is $1,200.00. The pre-need purchase of a columbarium niche/niches may be made over time.  To reserve a specific niche location, see below.* The total cost of each niche, final committal and inurnment shall be paid prior to placement of a cremation urn in the niche.  The cost includes a single columbarium niche, opening and sealing the niche at the time of inurnment, engraving and installation of a brass nameplate, perpetual care, maintenance, insurance and security of the columbarium chapel and surrounding church facilities.

Is the Church making a profit on the sale of columbarium niches?

St. John’s is a non-profit organization. The sale of niches at St. John’s Episcopal Church is a profit-making or fund raising venture for the parish. Fees reflect the cost of materials, construction, personalized name plate and engraving, perpetual care, security, maintenance and other related services.  A designated portion of the $1,200.00 fee for an individual columbarium niche shall be held in a Perpetual Care Fund by St. John’s Episcopal Church at the discretion of the Vestry.

Discretionary financial accommodations

Discretionary financial accommodations are available, on a case by case basis, to those who otherwise qualify for inurnment in Saint John’s Columbarium but for whom the above fee structure would be a serious financial burden. Consideration is made at the Rector’s discretion and all accommodations are strictly confidential.

Guidelines regarding flowers, decorations, or other adornments.

Guidelines are intended insure the uniformity of memorialization in the Columbarium Chapel. No flowers, real or artificial; candles, or other decorations shall be allowed on or near individual columbarium niches or in common areas of the columbarium chapel. Placement of flowers or other adornments at other times during the liturgical year will be made at the discretion of the Rector. Each columbarium niche will be identified in a uniform manner: First, middle and last name; month, day and year of birth and death will be engraved on a permanent metal nameplate. Each niche will display a metal cross. Seasonal decoration of individual columbarium niches is not allowed. Unauthorized embellishments will be removed.

Where is the Columbarium located in Saint John’s Episcopal Church?

The Columbarium Chapel is located in the Narthex (front entrance) of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Access to the columbarium may be gained by entering through the main doors to the narthex or the doors leading into the slype.

Can I reserve a columbarium niche for myself or someone else?

To insure the availability of a specifically located columbarium niche for yourself or someone else, you must purchase the niche.  In order to reserve a niche, a deposit of 50% of the total cost is required. Thereafter, by signed contract, regular payments would be made to complete the purchase.  Guarantees or reservations cannot be granted prior to deposit and a signed purchase agreement disclosing a scheduled payment plan.   

May I return my columbarium niche back to the church for a refund?

Yes, St. John’s Episcopal Church will return the cost of the niche, minus $150.00 for the cost of the brass name plate and engraving.  St. John’s reserves the right to require a period of 10 days-notice in order to facilitate a relocation if you decide to move the urn containing your loved one’s cremains.  Ownership of columbarium niches is not transferable and niches cannot be resold to third parties.

Is the cost of a columbarium niche tax deductible?

Sale of columbarium niches is to defray construction costs and for their care and upkeep of accommodations provided by Saint John’s Episcopal Church.  By law, fees paid for the purchase of a columbarium niche and related accommodations are not considered a charitable donation, and therefore, are not tax deductible.

How are visitations for prayer arranged? What about visitors?

The St. John’s Columbarium Chapel will be accessible and available to visitors whenever the church is open or upon request and availability of church staff to facilitate a visit. Arrangements for special openings are to be made through St. John’s Administrative Asst. to the Rector.