The Columbarium at SMPC
South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church (SMPC) is adding a columbarium and garden on the campus that will allow the congregation to remember and honor loved ones directly on our church grounds. The columbarium provides a complete ministry to our congregation from birth through end of life. Our church is now 32 years old, an age where infants have been baptized, married and have had children. Multi-generational families now attend and our congregants are aging.
Why a columbarium at SMPC?
In previous generations, a cemetery would often be associated with a church to allow members to affirm their belief in the communion of saints, to proclaim the truth that in life and death we belong to God, and to celebrate their connection to and love for a particular congregation. That is no longer feasible for most congregations. However, our generation has seen a dramatic increase in the practice of cremation at the time of death. With this evolution in burial traditions, individual churches have begun establishing columbaria, thus restoring the benefits of a cemetery in an equally meaningful and much more manageable practice. The garden and columbarium will provide a spiritually meditative space for families who gather in remembrance and those seeking a sacred space for devotion.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a columbarium?
A columbarium is a structure containing niches for the committal of urns that hold the cremains of those who have entered the church triumphant.
Where will the columbarium be located?
The new columbarium at SMPC will be located between the Chapel and Sanctuary buildings.
How big is a niche?
Each niche is 8" x 8" x 12” and can hold up to two urns. SMPC will supply the urns.
What are the costs of a niche?
The one-time fee of $3,500 includes the use of a niche for a single urn with engraving, and the one-time fee of $3,800 includes the use of a niche for two urns with engraving. The fee also supports the ongoing care and maintenance of the columbarium, which is owned and operated by SMPC. The fee does not include the cost of cremation or funeral service and is subject to change over time.
Who can reserve a niche?
Niches can be purchased for past and present members of the church and their families. Non- members of the church may also apply to purchase a niche at the discretion of the Session.
How do I purchase a niche?
After carefully reading the Rules and Regulations, you may submit an application along with payment. Upon approval, you will receive a Certificate of Right of Inurnment. This document shows the location of your niche(s) to keep for your records.
Do I own the niche?
No. The Certificate is a license to use the niche. No real property right or interest is created.
Can I specify which niche I would like?
Yes, depending on availability you will be able to request the niche(s) of your choice.
Who will do the inurnment?
The pastoral staff of South Mecklenburg Presbyterian will be responsible for coordinating the leadership for all services of committal.
What types of flowers, plants or decorations may I place at the niche?
No flowers, decorations, signs, flags, or personal objects will be allowed within or on the columbarium. Flowers may be left at designated spots near the columbarium for up to 3 days following inurnment.
May other items be inurned with the cremated remains?
No items other than the cremated remains may be placed in the urn or niche.
Glossary of Terms
CERTIFICATE OF RIGHT OF INURNMENT - A signed document granting the right to place cremated human remains within the reserved niche in the columbarium
COLUMBARIUM - A structure containing niches for urn storage
CREMATED REMAINS - The ashes of a cremated human body
INURNMENT - The placement of the urn into the assigned niche within the columbarium
NICHE - A place for the storage of an urn containing cremated remains
NICHE FRONT - A uniform front plate attached to the outside of the niche upon which the inscription is engraved