Frequently Asked Questions

Information about the Columbarium and Memorial Wall

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a wall with a group of compartments known as “niches” designed to hold cremation urns.  Each niche usually accommodates one or two urns.  Traditionally each columbarium niche has an individual stone facing made of polished granite etched with names and dates.  The columbarium is constructed of building materials complementary to the existing architecture of the church, allowing the project to look as an intended part of the physical structure.

Why consider a columbarium rather than an earth burial?

Increasingly cremation is becoming a popular choice of church members as they are faced with providing disposition of their own and loved ones remains.  While earth burial remains the most popular option, more and more Christians are moving toward cremation.  In the future it is expected that a larger percent of Americans will choose cremation over traditional burial.  Cremation is also becoming a popular choice among those concerned with protecting treasured natural resources.  Because of increasing costs of traditional funerals, those who choose cremation and subsequent inurnment within a church columbarium can expect to save over 70% of the cost of an earth burial funeral.

Are there other benefits to a columbarium?

Families who choose cremation for their departed loved ones rather than conventional burial will find First Lutheran’s Columbarium a wonderful option – dignified, convenient, and affordable.  In addition, the Columbarium is very convenient for memorial service ceremonies, congregations can walk from the church to gather in the Columbarium space and visually take part in the interment service.

Who can be inurned in First Lutheran’s Columbarium?

Persons eligible to obtain a “right of inurnment” to have their remains in the columbarium are:  members of First Lutheran Church-Hayward WI, spouses of members, immediate family or members (spouse, parents, children, step-children, grandparents), Pastors and their spouse and children who have served First Lutheran Church, and other applicants approved by the First Lutheran Church Columbarium and Memory Wall Committee.

What are the benefits of a church columbarium?

A columbarium ministry allows the church to fulfill the centuries-old obligation of the church to serve its members from baptism to death.  As the rite of baptism welcome members into the church community, the rite of Christian burial offers congregants a final homecoming and provides comfort to the living with the knowledge their loved ones are near their spiritual gathering place.  This ministry allows First Lutheran to satisfy the need for Christian burial, while bringing past and present together – in body and spirit.  Those who have come before us remain part of the church community.

Although the practice of cremation has become more common in the past fifty years, some concern remains about whether it is appropriate for Christians.  Christians should be reassured that cremation has a history and can be biblically justified.  Both theologically and biblically, it is unnecessary to shun cremation.  It has long been said that the Bible argues against cremation on the basis of the story of Saul and his sons, killed in battle and left in the field (1 Samuel 31).  The Israelites, at last, retrieved the warriors’ remains, burned them, and afterward buried the bones and observed a seven-day fast.  We can interpret their cremation as showing honor to those men.  Saul and his sons were shown disrespect when their bodies were left in the open by their enemies, not when the fire consumed their previously neglected flesh.  Fire is not inherently irreverent.  In fact, fire is often a biblical image of cleansing and purity.  The ashes are only a more quickly disintegrated semblance of what a body eventually becomes.

Are there any columbaria in Hayward?

Yes, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church has just installed one on the east side of their church.

What is a memorial wall?

Congregation members wanting to honor a family member or former member of First Lutheran or whose ashes have been placed elsewhere can purchase a plague which would be appropriately inscribed and placed on the memorial wall.

How is the columbarium and memorial wall funded?

The columbarium and memorial wall  self-funded with members purchasing columbarium niches or memorial wall plagues.  An initial infrastructure fund to begin construction has been started for sidewalks and concrete platform.

Who will pay for the care of the Columbarium?

In accordance with Wisconsin Statute 157.123 (Columbaria maintained by religious associations) 25% of the niche cost must go into a perpetual care fund (the same as for a standard cemetery) which will cover all care of the columbarium and its area.

Can we donate to the Columbarium Fund?

Yes, you can donate to the fund which will be tax deductible.  However, buying a niche or plaque is not tax deductible.

Where will the Columbarium and Memorial Wall be located?

It will be located on the west side of the church (in the lawn area behind the Sanctuary) with walkways on both sides of the church leading to this space.  This would be away from the parking lot and entrance to the church. The Memorial Wall will be located on the exterior wall of the church sanctuary.

Would this take business away from the funeral homes?

No, you would still need the services of a funeral home to make arrangements and cremation services.

How many niches are there in the Columbarium?

There will be 128 initial niches.  Each Columbarium would have 64 niches, 32 to a side.  The face of each niche will be 12 inches square.  As each niche is purchased, you will be allowed to pick out which niche you want.

How many Memorial Plagues will be available?

The wall will be comprised of 140 granite plagues, each 8 inches square.

Are there policies and regulations governing the Columbarium and Memorial Wall?

Yes, policies and regulations are available: