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Thread: Does the church support cremation?

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    Senior Member Vivian Cornwell's Avatar

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    Does the church support cremation?

    I only read about burial in the bible. What do you feel about cremation?
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    Host Book, Movie & CE forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I figure if God can make us from dirt to begin with, God can probably do it again.
    ...just my $.02.

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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivian Cornwell View Post
    I only read about burial in the bible. What do you feel about cremation?
    Why take a chance, I'll stick with burial.
    -Jim

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    Senior Member Ryan Pugh's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chabot View Post
    Why take a chance, I'll stick with burial.
    I think the "why" for many is that it's cheaper.
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    Senior Member Marian Schwaller Carney's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I think we need only look as far as events such as 9/11 and the Titanic to realize that burial offers no special dispensation. In all ways of handling a body, whether planned or not, the body decays. American burial traditions actually suggest a continued rejection of the reality of death with the process of preservation of the body and the armored vault used in the ground for the casket. I expect to be cremated, possibly giving my body to science use first.

    And come to think of it, Jesus did not *stay* buried, so I guess that lets us know his opinion of it!

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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Pugh View Post
    I think the "why" for many is that it's cheaper.
    Exactly! So when we are faced with a choice between money and..........................

    I'm not going to choose on the side of money!

    Disclaimer: I am speaking about my choice, I'm not casting aspersions on others who see this differently.
    -Jim

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    Host Book, Movie & CE forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    There is no choice. If anyone thinks God condemns people to hell for being cremated, they should be burned at the stake!
    ...just my $.02.

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    There is no choice. If anyone thinks God condemns people to hell for being cremated, they should be burned at the stake!
    Poetic justice?

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    One of the most fervent rants against cremation I ever heard was delivered by a good Southern Baptist undertaker as I was riding in the hearse with him to do the graveside service (I was doing a short-term interim pastorate a looonnnnng time ago). Although he presented his case with lots of scripture, I can't help but wonder if his concerns were more than just theological.
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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I believe that the Church at times in its history was against cremation as "pagan" while burial was "Christian"... but those times are long gone, as far as I know.

    I don't really care what happens to my body after I die, and my wife feels the same way. We both want any usable organs to be harvested, and then I think we're both going to have our bodies donated to science, if science wants 'em. Apart from that, we'll probably be cremated, because it's cheapest, and we'd rather that money be used for good rather than wasted on trying to preserve our corpses. God will raise us up on the last day no matter what condition our remains are in.

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    Senior Member Pete Vecchi's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I wonder what happened to the Christians who were devoured by wolves and other animals in the Roman coliseum(s), those who were beheaded, and as someone else has said those who were buried or lost at sea, those who were burned at the stake, or those who were blown apart in explosions such as those of 9/11?

    The Roman Catholic tradition holds that various parts of the different saints were sent to various locations so that the various places could have items of veneration.

    The point is that bodies decay, especially without embalming. As someone else in this thread has alluded to, our American tradition of embalming seems to me to be less Biblical in some ways than cremation.

    Think of the costs not just to self, but to the family members left behind. we just buried my father-in-law on Monday. He had purchased the plot about 40 years ago. Yet when he went to pre-pay his funeral about 6 years ago, the cemetery also charged a "grave opening" and "grave closing" fee. When the burial was about to take place, the funeral director (who is a long-time friend of ours) told us that he was going to have words with the cemetery personnel, because even though the funeral was pre-paid (including the grave opening and closing fees), they were now wanting to charge a $15 additional fee for "vault inspection." The funeral director got that charge waived. But he also told us that this particular cemetery has a new policy for "new customers" (as if they really have repeat business?) who purchase a plot--an additional $525 just for the privilege of purchasing a plot.

    Cremation is sounding better and better to me all the time. Go and buy an urn from Wal Mart or something, get the ashes, put them in the urn, then seal it. After a generation or two, let someone bury it in their back yard. Until then, it's up to the surviving family--keep it displayed, store it in the garage or attic--whatever. I guess I still have just enough Roman Catholic roots in me to want to keep the body "together" for the most part, so I prefer that ashes not be "scattered." But that's just me; I see no Biblical prohibition against it.

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Cremation is all there is. Fast burn and slow burn. After all, weren't we taught to say, "Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes."? Arguments for embalming, caskets, vaults, burial places only feed the pockets of those who bank on such practices.

    Years ago I attended a meeting of the "Undertakers Association" (or something like that). They spent hours that day extolling the benefits of giving the family "closure." My unspoken response was that often open caskets give closure in ways that families members have trouble forgetting for years and decades.

    My corrupt mind played with what my topic would be should I ever be asked to speak at that gathering. My conclusion, "Putting the FUN in FUNerals!"

    Not particularly related to this thread but I read about a Nazarene in the Midwest who planned his funeral way in advance and arranged for blowup, bouncie games for the children, wonderful music and lots of other fun stuff.

    One guy asked if I would officiate his funeral. He wanted a baseball theme. My heart took to his idea...because he was a St. Louis Cardinals fan. (MY team...Bill White, Dick Grote, Tim McCarver, Julio Gotay, Ken Boyer ((my all-time favorite)), Bob Gibson, Stan the Man, Ozzie Smith, etc.) What fun! He wasn't buried with his Cards hat on, but it was tucked in his fingers on his chest. We wrapped the wonderful service up (and, folks, it is easy to make a gospel message out of a baseball game!) with, of course, "Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd!" Wonderful tears and wonderful laughter!

    As for me? I would like nothing about my departure to be anything but as easy as possible on my family. I'd kind of like for my ashes to be placed in an urn and stored in a convenient place. I only say that because when I visit my "roots" back in Iowa, it is fulfilling and fun to go with the family to visit the graves of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. Just saying, a place for the ashes (at whatever speed) is good.

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    Senior Member Jon Bemis's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    My wife and I have opted for cremation (after we die of course). For us there are three issues:
    1. Money. The cost for a traditional funeral IMO has gotten out of hand. The last funeral I conducted two weeks ago cost the family a little over 10K.
    2. Environmental impact - at least that's what my environmentally conscious children tell me.
    3. We've lived in so many different places it would be difficult to choose a place to be buried. Cremation simplifies things.
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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Vecchi View Post
    Cremation is sounding better and better to me all the time. Go and buy an urn from Wal Mart or something, get the ashes, put them in the urn, then seal it. After a generation or two, let someone bury it in their back yard. Until then, it's up to the surviving family--keep it displayed, store it in the garage or attic--whatever. I guess I still have just enough Roman Catholic roots in me to want to keep the body "together" for the most part, so I prefer that ashes not be "scattered." But that's just me; I see no Biblical prohibition against it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Smith View Post
    I'd kind of like for my ashes to be placed in an urn and stored in a convenient place. I only say that because when I visit my "roots" back in Iowa, it is fulfilling and fun to go with the family to visit the graves of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. Just saying, a place for the ashes (at whatever speed) is good.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Bemis View Post
    3. We've lived in so many different places it would be difficult to choose a place to be buried. Cremation simplifies things.
    I have no idea what we (or our eventual kids) will do with our ashes, but I'm pretty sure we won't keep them in an urn on the mantel, or anything like that. We'll probably dispose of them sooner rather than later.

    I think, legally, you can't just bury or scatter them wherever you please, since they're human remains. But maybe that varies from state to state. But they have to be disposed of somehow, somewhere, eventually.

    I guess you could always leave them in the attic as a fun surprise for whoever buys the house from you someday.

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    Senior Member Wilson Deaton's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    ... and then I think we're both going to have our bodies donated to science, if science wants 'em.
    Just in case some one is lurking and thinking about this without understanding it: Many people have a rather glorified view of "donating to science" thinking their body will end up in a lab where a cure for some rare disease will be discovered. The truth is that MOST bodies "donated to science" end up as cadavers for medical students to practice on... That's important, too, but one should know what one is doing.

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    Senior Member Wilson Deaton's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivian Cornwell View Post
    I only read about burial in the bible. What do you feel about cremation?
    The Bible talks about burial (and simply placing a body in a cave, etc.) but it is does not prescribe that technique. By the same token, the Bible no where explicitly condemns cremation, either. I think burial is a cultural preference and just happens to be what the primary Biblical cultures were doing.

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    Senior Member Steven Burton's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I was planning on donating my body to science, but then realized I am not sure what they would do with a perfect specimen.
    "Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek."
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kennedy View Post
    One of the most fervent rants against cremation I ever heard was delivered by a good Southern Baptist undertaker as I was riding in the hearse with him to do the graveside service (I was doing a short-term interim pastorate a looonnnnng time ago). Although he presented his case with lots of scripture, I can't help but wonder if his concerns were more than just theological.
    Having spent a LOT of time with funeral directors... I'm pretty sure that your suspicions may be correct.
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    I have no idea what we (or our eventual kids) will do with our ashes, but I'm pretty sure we won't keep them in an urn on the mantel, or anything like that. We'll probably dispose of them sooner rather than later.

    I think, legally, you can't just bury or scatter them wherever you please, since they're human remains. But maybe that varies from state to state. But they have to be disposed of somehow, somewhere, eventually.

    I guess you could always leave them in the attic as a fun surprise for whoever buys the house from you someday.
    It may vary by state. In Maine, the funeral home is allowed to give the ashes to the family... and when they do, that's what goes on the form as "final disposition." After that, while there may be laws about disposal, they're largely unenforceable, since the paper-trail has ended. Families do whatever they want... and I doubt many families check to see if there are any legal requirements.

    If a state really wanted to enforce where cremated remains could be scattered, then they would have to require the funeral home to be involved in the final disposition.
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    Senior Member Pete Vecchi's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    I think, legally, you can't just bury or scatter them wherever you please, since they're human remains. But maybe that varies from state to state. But they have to be disposed of somehow, somewhere, eventually.
    I know the relative of someone who recently died, and the deceased's wishes were for the ashes to be scattered in the Smokey Mountains. However, a permit is required for that. But my understanding is that the reason the permit is required is that it is a very popular spot. While "legally" there are probably prohibitions from burying someone's ashes in the back yard, realistically, there's probably very little to keep a person from burying something small in his/her own back yard.

    Edit: I hadn't yet seen Jon's post when I originally posted this reply, but after having read it, I am adding this edit to acknowledge that laws regarding final disposition likely vary by state.
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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    There is no choice. If anyone thinks God condemns people to hell for being cremated, they should be burned at the stake!
    This is like the third joke you've told this week...keep it up and you'll turn into Dave Pettigrew
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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Bemis View Post
    3. We've lived in so many different places it would be difficult to choose a place to be buried. Cremation simplifies things.
    Good point with this one especially.
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    Host Book, Movie & CE forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Unger View Post
    This is like the third joke you've told this week...keep it up and you'll turn into Dave Pettigrew.
    You need to spend time with me in person. I am genetically predisposed to puns.

    I actually started that one out to be serious, but the irony was too thick not to embrace.
    ...just my $.02.

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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    You need to spend time with me in person. I am genetically predisposed to puns.

    I actually started that one out to be serious, but the irony was too thick not to embrace.
    At DA in May you'll have to regale me with some of your puns. I love a good pun, the punnier the better.
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    Host Fun & Prayer forums Gina Stevenson's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Unger View Post
    At DA in May you'll have to regale me with some of your puns. I love a good pun, the punnier the better.
    Amen to that ... pun-lovin' person here, too!
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    Senior Member Vivian Cornwell's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Thank you everyone for your comments. There is a lot of "food for thought" in those comments. I don't personally know very many people who have been cremated but it seems the younger generation is talking a lot about it. A friend recently started working for a funeral home and works at the crematory. He has talked a little about it. I asked him if he was going to be cremated when he dies. He said, "No way." I wanted to hear some more thoughts on the subject so you have provided them.

    One of our neighbors died a few months ago and was cremated. His son said they are going to spread his ashes on the golf course, which is not legal in Ohio, I guess, but they are going to do it at night. I think this was the father's wish.
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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Has anyone notice in the Old Testament the Jews cremated all the bad people just for example Gen.38:24, Ex 32:20, Lev. 20:14,21:9 and forget Rev. 20:15. Some of may have heard of E. Stanley Jones who body was creamated here in America but his heart was burial in India. Few week ago we lost great holiness preacher and he donated his body I have not heard any Christian condemning creation so it won't make any diffence what done to the body have you are dead.
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    Senior Member Wilson Deaton's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    For the record, at this particular point, my wife and I will PROBABLY be cremated.

    Our cremations will take place AFTER our (open casket if appropriate) funerals.

    Furthermore, I think we will request that our ashes be "spread" (somewhere legal) rather than being kept or preserved somewhere.

    Basically we find "regular" funerals to be beneficial to the survivors so we will have them, but we don't see the same value in a distinct "final resting place."

    Wilson
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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I would like to be cremated, but Hannie doesn't. So if she survives me, that won't happen. Funerals are not for the departed, but for those remaining.
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    Senior Member Paul DeBaufer's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilson Deaton View Post
    Just in case some one is lurking and thinking about this without understanding it: Many people have a rather glorified view of "donating to science" thinking their body will end up in a lab where a cure for some rare disease will be discovered. The truth is that MOST bodies "donated to science" end up as cadavers for medical students to practice on... That's important, too, but one should know what one is doing.

    Wilson
    It was the kinesiology students that went through the bodies at Univ. of IL. And they are not pretty, all shrivelled and brownish, they don't use the high grade embalming fluid. The cockroaches love em because the formalin solubalizes the lipids which then drip out so the bugs can eat
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    Host Theology Forum Dennis M. Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Once the body has been cremated, it has been disposed. There are no subsequent health issues. Laws restricting dispersing the cremains largely have to do with polluting water and air, funeral industry objections, and safety - opening the door of an airplane to throw out ashes isn't especially a safe activity. As for conservation issues, they tell me that the natural gas used to cremate leaves a larger carbon footprint than burial.

    I used to tell Linda to keep my cremains in a jar beside the bed, but now I just want them to be used as landfill in the swamp behind the family camp.

    Should someone want to have the cremains and urn put in a cemetery, the fees can be astounding. When my mother died four years ago, a family member wanted the urn to be in a memorial grotto, so they would have somewhere to go to "reflect" on memories of her. Placing that canister in a marble wall in that grotto cost an additional $5,000. Of course, that takes care of perpetual care of the grotto. Last time I checked, no one in the family had been to the grotto even once to reflect.
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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis M. Scott View Post
    Last time I checked, no one in the family had been to the grotto even once to reflect.
    Well exactly. So much money spent and so little use. I've never been to my father's grave and for all I know, it isn't there anymore. What should I seek there? Not him. It's the one thing that all corpses have in common: you immediately see that the person you knew has gone and what is left is an empty, decaying shell.
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    Senior Member Roland Hearn's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I had never heard of anyone thinking of this from a spiritual or biblical perspective until we moved to the States. It was always an issue of desire as far as I was concerned.
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  34. #34
    Senior Member Bill Morrison's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quite apart from any "right or wrong for Christians" aspect to the issue, I do have a problem here. We have a funeral home just down the road from MNU and I am often bothered when I drive past and see their sign: "Funeral Home and Crematory". My mind conjures up images of a Nazi Concentration Camp OR even more bizarre some sort of dairy establishment. Maybe I am just warped, but I really don't care for that word "crematory"!

    BILL
    Laughing Gina Stevenson, Susan Unger - thanks for this funny post

  35. #35
    Senior Member Vivian Cornwell's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Being cremated and not buried takes away enjoying looking for ancestors. If you watch the current programs ('Who Do You Think You Are?" and the Louis Gates program on PBS) they find information from graves. Barbara Walters found out her real name from a gravestone of an ancestor.

    Bob and I have enjoyed just walking through a cemetery locally or while away from home reading the dates and information. Some of the monuments are beautiful.
    Thanks Susan Unger - "thanks" for this post

  36. #36
    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Morrison View Post
    Quite apart from any "right or wrong for Christians" aspect to the issue, I do have a problem here. We have a funeral home just down the road from MNU and I am often bothered when I drive past and see their sign: "Funeral Home and Crematory". My mind conjures up images of a Nazi Concentration Camp OR even more bizarre some sort of dairy establishment. Maybe I am just warped, but I really don't care for that word "crematory"!

    BILL
    Bill, you think like me!
    Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18a


    Become an organ donor ~ donatelife.net ~ www.organdonor.gov

  37. #37
    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I think the discussion has to be, on one hand, a family one but, also, a generational one. For young people it's all theoretical anyway - just a ball to be batted around. For those approaching senior adult years it's practical - something to be included in the will. For those with the end of life in sight - it's imminent, a serious discussion to be had. (You can see these stages reflected in this thread.) There's nothing wrong with any of them, just different perspectives.
    Thanks Pete Vecchi - "thanks" for this post

  38. #38
    Senior Member Bill Morrison's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Unger View Post
    Bill, you think like me!
    I hope that is a good thing....well of course that must be a good thing!

    BILL

  39. #39
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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    We lean towards cremation. Or, opportunity allowing, immediate and direct deposit on soon to be family's ranch, sans funeral parlor and with homemade casket.

    I absolutely and totally loathe, as does my family, the emotional torture so many funeral homes (and more than a few pastors I've known) think they have to put the family through in order to bring psychological healing and closure.

    My explicit directions to my family, in writing, allow for no such shenanigans.

    I plan to go be with Jesus, and that is a GOOD THING. I want the gathered relatives and friends to be told how they can get there also, briefly, and then have a rousing good celebration of Jesus, complete with Easter dinner including the coconut cake.

    No matter the time of year, celebrate HE IS RISEN because that means I will be too someday!

  40. #40
    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Does the church support cremation?

    I had a pastor friend ask for my advice... One of his grandparents had died, and his mom wanted him to join her and some other family members for a middle-of-the-night jumping of the cemetery's fence so they could scatter the ashes over the grave of the grandparent's spouse. They wanted him with them to lead a quick little service. He told them he didn't think it was a good idea. I agreed with him.

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