Wilshire Baptist Church welcomed a big crowd last week to dedicate its new columbarium and prayer garden. A columbarium is reminiscent of the old church cemetery – a final resting place for the remains of loved ones on the grounds of their cherished church – but a columbarium inurns the remains of those who have died and had their bodies cremated.
Wilshire’s columbarium holds nearly 300 niches and includes a water fountain, terrazzo path, garden landscaping and a prayer labyrinth. The circular labyrinth is an ancient tool for Christian prayer by which individuals walk the serpentine path as they pray. A separate Wall of Remembrance was also added, allowing the names of those buried elsewhere to be inscribed.
Wilshire’s decision to build a columbarium was in sync with a growing trend among American churches to accommodate the larger tend toward cremation rather than burial. Cremations in Texas have increased from 19 to 25% in recent years according to a recent Dallas Morning News story, saving families thousands of dollars in caskets and cemetery plots. First United Methodist of Richardson, Lovers Lane UMC, St. Joseph Catholic Church of Richardson, Christ UMC of Plano and other respected area churches have built or are building columbaria.
At the dedication ceremony, Senior Pastor George Mason explained that the church is a natural place to help people think about both life and death. By walking among the remembrances of those who have gone before, believers today may be inspired to right living. “With a columbarium we can still have the sense that when we go to church, we’re there with the communion of saints that has gone before,” Mason told the DMN. “I’ve already bought my niche.”
Wilshire’s columbarium garden may be accessed off the Ravendale side of the church, located at 4316 Abrams Road near Mockingbird Lane. Anyone seeking a quiet place for reflection and prayer is invited to enter.
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