Policy and Procedures:
- PURPOSE. The Columbarium of First Christian Church is a ministry to the congregation by providing a safe, comfortable, theologically correct, ecologically sound and economical means to honor the dead.
- ELIGIBILITY FOR INTERMENT. Any person may apply to acquire interment space in the Columbarium. The application must be approved by the Memorial Committee, which has sole authority to determine who is eligible for interment in the Columbarium. While eligibility for interment shall in no way be exclusive to individuals falling in the following categories, priority shall be granted to any member or former member of the church, ordained ministers of Disciples of Christ, employees and former employees of the church, and spouses, parents, children and grandchildren of the above individuals.
- APPLICATION FOR INTERMENT. Application for interment and a niche shall be made in writing on forms provided by the church. The application shall designate both an owner and person whose remains are to be placed in the niche. The applicant must consent to be bound by the policies governing the Columbarium.
- NICHE. Each niche consists of one space for the remains of only one person. The Memorial Committee shall approve urns to used and the form and type of plaques to be placed on the face of each niche. The plaque will be engraved with the name, date of birth and death of the decedent. With the exception of temporary decorations during special services and subject to the consent of the pastoral staff, no flowers, plants, photographs or other articles will be permitted in a niche or outside the niche.
- COST. The cost of each niche shall be $900. This cost shall include the initial acquisition cost the niche, urn, identification plaque, the opening and closing of the niche at time of interment and the perpetual care and maintenance of the Columbarium. This cost does not include any reasonable fee to approve a transfer of the right to the niche or to reopen a niche.
Any permits for interment required by applicable federal, state or local laws must be secured and furnished by the owner, the family of the decedent or the funeral director.
- ARRANGEMENTS FOR INTERMENT AND VISITATION. The Columbarium is part of the Church. All persons entering the area of the Columbarium are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with customary respectful decorum as normally observed in a church. The pastoral staff shall have complete authority for all religious services of committal.
- ASSIGNMENT. A purchaser may not sell, assign or transfer any right to a niche without the written consent of the Memorial Committee. The committee may refuse its consent to a transfer or assignment to a person who would not have been approved to purchase a niche. The new owner must consent to be bound by the policies governing the Columbarium.
Upon the death of the owner, if the owner holds unused space in a niche, the rights therein shall pass as the owner may have directed in the application, or in the absence thereof, as the owner may direct in a duly probated will, or in the absence of a direction in a will, to the persons believed by the Memorial Committee to be the heirs at law of the owner.
If the right to a space in a niche is owned by more than one person, the Memorial Committee may rely upon the action of any co-owner, unless the Memorial Committee has received written direction to the contrary from another co-owner.
- TERMINATION OF RIGHTS. If any niche is not used within 25 years from the purchase and the family is no longer known, the Memorial Committee, after reasonable effort to locate the owner, shall have the right to forfeit all rights in and to said niche. If a niche for any individual who is deceased is not utilized within 6 months from date of death or from date of purchase, whichever is later, the church shall make reasonable effort to allow the owner to sell, assign or transfer all right to the niche to an approved person within 60 days after date of such notification. If such rights are not sold, assigned or transferred within said 60 days, the Memorial Committee shall have the right to forfeit all rights to said niche space.
- RETAINED PROPERTY RIGHTS. The purchase of a niche space or placement of remains in a niche does not confer any property rights in the owner or purchaser. The Columbarium and any interest in any niche is not subject to the laws of the State of Texas relating to cemeteries and no owner nor persons claiming under said owner shall assert said laws with regard thereto. First Christian Church retains the absolute right, in its sole discretion, to enlarge or remodel the Columbarium, or to remove, relocate or cease to operate the same. If the Columbarium is relocated, the church shall substitute another niche of substantially the same size and character, at no cost and in which the owner shall have the same rights in such substituted niche as are granted hereby, subject to the terms, conditions, limitations and provisions hereof. If the Columbarium ceases to be operated by the church, the church will cause said remains to be disinterred and suitably re-buried or re-tombed at some other lawful cemetery, burial place, or Columbarium in Tom Green County, Texas, of its own choosing.
- LIABILITY. The church will endeavor to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of the Columbarium. However, neither the church nor its officers, members, employees or agents shall have any liability of any kind or character whatsoever for the maintenance or preservation of the cremated remains of any person interred in the Columbarium or for any loss or damage to the urns or cremated remains of such deceased persons, nor for any manner or thing relating to the Columbarium, its use or subsequent maintenance.
- MODIFICATIONS AND AMENDMENTS. The church reserves the right to modify and amend these policies, adopting new rules and regulations, or amend, alter or repeal any rule, regulation or article in these policies. Special situations may arise in which the enforcement of a policy may impose unnecessary hardship. Therefore, upon recommendation of the pastor, the Memorial Committee may make exceptions, suspensions or temporary modifications in any of these policies.
Approved and adopted by the general board of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), San Angelo, Texas, April 13, 2009.