Mission & Ministry Blog

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Report of SPIG Considering the Matter of: New Scattering Grounds and Columbaria

The sub-group was called together by A & F and SPIG to consider the wisdom of allowing parishes/congregations to establish new scattering grounds and columbaria, creating certain perpetual obligations and commitments of property, in an age where the long-term viability of so many of our churches is uncertain. 
According to government regulation long term obligations include:
·         Scattering grounds must remain consecrated ground for ever as it is impossible to prove that you have removed all of the remains – unless perhaps they were only scattered inside of a concrete box or structure
·         The structure of a columbarium must be maintained intact for perpetuity.  This prohibits the organization from removing the contents to another location although the structure itself could be moved.
·         In both cases money – 15% of the selling price – must be put aside for perpetual care and that care must be provided for whether or not there are sufficient funds.
Another point of interest is that a cemetery can operate at different locations and be required to only place one $100,000 bond with the government to cover multiple locations.
It should also be noted that there is concern that with new government legislation a columbarium may be viewed as a for-profit enterprise and that this might place the church’s non-profit status at risk – particularly in the matter of property tax. 
While a “safe” way forward would be to not allow further development of scattering grounds and columbaria there were pastoral considerations that caused us to look for ways forward.
·         That Diocesan Council not authorize and new scattering ground or columbarium unless they are attached to a well-established cemetery that is believed to have long-term viability.  Under no circumstances should a church building or property without a current cemetery establish a scattering ground or columbarium on its own.
·         That the Diocese through the Lands and Property Sub-Committee of A & F consider establishing, in various locations around the Diocese, parent sites that are already well-established cemeteries to act as locations where columbaria could be moved in the event that a church with a columbarium attached should be closed/sold.
·         That any church establishing a columbarium must have an agreement with one of these parent sites stating that their columbarium could be moved to the parent site in the event of the church being closed or sold.
·         That any ashes placed in these columbariums only be done so after the family involved has signed an agreement that gives permission for the columbarium to be moved should the church be closed/sold.
·         That all columbaria established be of such a size and nature that they are moveable.
·         That a parish wishing to establish a columbarium deposit with the diocese sufficient funds to cover the move of the columbarium should the church be closed/sold.
·         That all parishes establishing a columbarium deposit with the diocese, the money to be set aside for perpetual care.
·         That due to the difficult nature of attempting to decommission a scattering ground that no new scattering grounds be authorized, unless they are a part of the grounds of a well established cemetery.
·         That all of the above be administered by the Lands and Property Sub-committee of the A & F.

Proposed Motion to Diocesan Council:

Moved by:  The Venerable Richard Salt
Seconded by: The Venerable Kim Van Allen
That this Diocesan Council adopt as policy the recommendations of the Report of the SPIG considering the matter of new scattering grounds and columbaria and request The Administration and Finance Committee to implement the recommendations as most practical.

1 comment:

  1. Disappointed in this decision. We are missing a Pastoral opportunity to help grieving church families of faithful parishioners.Advice from a local established London Funeral Director is that 70% of funerals currently end with cremation. Note: first crematorium opened in London in 1963. Many cremated remains are buried in backyards, at cottages or unmarked locations far away,or remain on shelves at home.
    In the event of a church closure or sale, relocation costs for a columbarium would be small and for a ScatteringGarden, minimal.
    I hope that this decision will be reviewed.



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The Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Huron
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London, Ontario, Canada
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