RUMC dedication ceremony held
A new columbarium and memorial garden have been created on the grounds of Riverside United Methodist Church (RUMC). A columbarium is a fancy name for an above-ground vault for cremated remains. The concept was approved at a church conference in N...
A new columbarium and memorial garden have been created on the grounds of Riverside United Methodist Church (RUMC).
A columbarium is a fancy name for an above-ground vault for cremated remains.
The concept was approved at a church conference in November 2005, according to Gary Gauldin, a member of the task force who has been working on the special site. "The real commitment has been ongoing for the past year and a half."
The memorial garden includes the columbarium and a memorial wall of remembrance, a place for names of loved ones buried elsewhere.
The first columbarium has 50 niches, each large enough for two cremation urns to accommodate spouses or companions. As the niches are filled, there are two planters where more of the structures would be located.
Gauldin said there are similar facilities in Nisswa and Grand Rapids, but currently columbaria are more prevalent in the southwestern United States and in Florida.
An article in the Star Tribune in February 2006 suggests that as land values rise and cemeteries run out of space to expand, above-ground vaults may become more common. A columbarium containing 5,000 niches is being added at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.
When Gauldin took the church's plans to the Park Rapids Council in August 2006, he told them, "It's kind of a return to our ancestors, since in earlier centuries graveyards were located next to churches.
The memorial garden at Riverside will not provide for burials; however, the columbarium makes winter inurnment possible.
The intent is to provide an outdoor setting for fellowship and a quiet sanctuary for rest, reflection and remembering loved ones.
Church members have generously donated dirt and wood chips for an earthen berm to set off the garden from the rest of the church grounds. One individual donated a pondless waterfall; others have donated trees and shrubs.
Gauldin said there are plans to surface walkways in the spring and add memorial benches, solar lighting and other amenities in the future.
"I hope the garden can be used for more than a resting place," he added, suggesting the setting would also work for baptisms, weddings, Christmas Eve candlelight services and other special occasions.
Participation in the memorial garden and columbarium is not restricted to Riverside Church members, but is available to all interested persons.