Purpose of the Columbarium
Westminster Presbyterian Church’s Columbarium provides a special place for inurnment of (depositing) cremated remains of deceased church members, pastors, and their families. The Columbarium contains 96 niches (compartments), each with the capacity for one urn (container).
Management of the Columbarium
On behalf of the Session, Westminster’s Finance and Administration Committee manages the Columbarium, maintains a Columbarium diagram, and keeps records regarding niche reservations and persons inurned in the Columbarium, including names, dates of birth and death, and inurnment dates. Niches are identified as shown on the Columbarium diagram.
Eligibility for Inurnment
Inurnment in the Columbarium is restricted to the cremated remains of members, pastors, former members, and former pastors of Westminster and their parents, spouses, and children. The Session may grant eligibility to others who are meaningfully connected to Westminster. No more niches may be reserved for a family than those necessary to inurn the remains of all eligible persons in that family.
Fee to Reserve a Niche
The one-time fee to reserve a niche in the Columbarium is $1,500.00. The fee includes the right of inurnment in the reserved niche, one urn, inscription on the niche, and ongoing care for the Columbarium. The fee does not include the cost of cremation. Westminster’s Session may change the fee, but current niche reservation owners will not be reimbursed or assessed additional costs if the fee is changed.
Reserving a Niche
To reserve a niche, a person must submit full payment of the fee and a completed Columbarium Reservation to the Pastor or the Church Treasurer for consideration by the Finance and Administration Committee. The committee will review each reservation form for compliance with applicable policies and procedures and confirm that the identified niche is available for reservation. If approved by the committee, the Pastor or the Church Treasurer will sign the reservation form to indicate the church’s acceptance. The church will deliver the signed reservation form to the owner, keep a copy for the church, and update the church’s records accordingly.
Selecting a Niche
The Finance and Administration Committee will maintain a list of niches that are available for reservation. Each submitted reservation must identify the selected niche. Reservations will be reviewed in the order, as determined by the Finance and Administration Committee, the church receives them.
Designating the Person to be Inurned
Each submitted reservation must designate the person to be inurned. No remains may be inurned in a niche except those of the person designated on the final accepted reservation for that niche. A niche reservation owner may, at any time prior to the death of the person to be inurned, designate a different person by submitting a Columbarium Reservation Change in Designated Person to be Inurned to the Pastor or the Church Treasurer for consideration by the Finance and Administration Committee. The committee will review each change form for compliance with applicable policies and procedures. If approved by the committee, the Pastor or the Church Treasurer will sign the change form to indicate the church’s acceptance. The church will deliver the signed change form to the owner, keep a copy for the church, and update the church’s records accordingly.
Transferring a Niche Reservation
A niche reservation owner may transfer the reservation to a new owner when approved by Westminster. The new owner must submit a completed Columbarium Reservation Transfer of Ownership to the Pastor or the Church Treasurer for consideration by the Finance and Administration Committee. The committee will review the transfer form for compliance with applicable policies and procedures and confirm that the prior owner wishes to transfer the reservation to the new owner. If approved by the committee, the Pastor or the Church Treasurer will sign the transfer form to indicate the church’s acceptance. The church will deliver the signed transfer form to the new owner, deliver a copy to the prior owner, keep a copy for the church, and update the church’s records accordingly.
Only a Pastor of Westminster or an ordained minister invited by a Pastor of Westminster may officiate at a committal service at the Columbarium.
The only urn that may be used for inurnment in the Columbarium is the urn provided by the church and included in the fee.
Inscription on Niches
The size and style of the inscription on each niche must be as prescribed by the church. Inscriptions will include the information shown on the final accepted reservation. The deceased’s name and dates of birth and death will be inscribed on the niche. The deceased’s name will be permanently marked on the urn. The church will arrange for the inscriptions, which are included in the fee.
Flowers, Flags, Signs, and Other Decorations
Flowers and plants may be placed in or near the Columbarium only as approved by the church. Flags, signs, and other decorations may not be placed in or near the Columbarium. Prohibited items may be removed and disposed of by the church without notice or liability to the owner of the item or any niche reservation owner.
Owner's Mailing Address
Each niche reservation owner must notify the church of changes to his or her mailing address and phone number. Correspondence mailed by the church to the owner at his or her last known address will be deemed received by the owner seven days after the correspondence is sent.
Removing Cremated Remains
Cremated remains may be temporarily removed by the church while making repairs or improvements to the Columbarium. Otherwise, remains may only be removed with the written consent of both Westminster and a member of the deceased’s family or when required by law.
Cancellation of a Niche Reservation by an Owner
A niche reservation owner may cancel the reservation by providing written notice of cancellation to Westminster, with no compensation due to the owner or the designated person’s estate or family.
Cancellation of a Niche Reservation when a Niche is Not Used
If the remains of the person designated on the final accepted reservation have not been inurned in the niche within either five years after the person’s death or 120 years after the person’s birth, the niche reservation will be cancelled, with no compensation due to the niche reservation owner or the designated person’s estate or family.
Cancellation of a Niche Reservation when Remains are Removed
If the remains of the person designated on the final accepted reservation are inurned in the niche and subsequently removed by a member of the deceased’s family or to comply with law, the niche reservation will be cancelled, with no compensation due to the niche reservation owner or the designated person’s estate or family.
Ownership of the Columbarium and all Niches
Westminster owns the Columbarium and all niches. Niche reservation owners acquire no property rights in the Columbarium, any of its niches, or any of Westminster’s property. The reservation confers only the right to inurn the cremated remains of the designated person in the identified niche pursuant to Westminster’s applicable policies and procedures, as amended by the church from time to time.
Care for the Columbarium and Limit of Liability
Westminster will provide reasonable ongoing care for the Columbarium. However, Westminster and all persons acting on Westminster’s behalf will not be liable for any loss or damage to the Columbarium, niches, urns, or cremated remains inurned in the Columbarium. Westminster may purchase insurance for its own benefit, but the church is not obligated to purchase insurance for the benefit of niche reservation owners, designated persons to be inurned, or their estates or families. If there is a discrepancy between a reservation form, change form, or transfer form and the church’s records, the church’s records control.
Termination of the Columbarium
Niche reservations and rights of inurnment will continue as long as the present Columbarium stands and is owned by Westminster. If the present Columbarium is to be sold or demolished and a replacement Columbarium will not be furnished, niche reservations will be cancelled, and rights of inurnment will cease. In that event, Westminster will attempt to notify each niche reservation owner that the reservation will be cancelled and will attempt to notify a family member of each person inurned in the Columbarium that the person’s remains must be removed from the niche. If the church is not able to contact a member of the person’s family using information in the church’s records or if the remains are not removed within a reasonable period of time, the church may relocate the remains as it deems proper. No compensation will be due to the niche reservation owner or the person’s estate or family.
Amendment or Waiver of Columbarium Policies and Procedures
Westminster’s Session may, at any time, amend or waive any of its Columbarium policies and procedures. Waiver of any policy or procedure does not constitute a continuing waiver of that policy or procedure with respect to any situation arising thereafter.