One of the areas that set early Christians apart from the rest of the Greco-Roman culture was their boldness in the face of death. Believers took seriously Paul’s word that “death no longer had dominion” over them. They were unafraid of death because they were confident that they would be raised to new life with Jesus Christ. During the time of persecution, Christians in Rome gathered for worship in catacombs, caves that contained tombs, because many of their persecutors were superstitious about venturing into burial places.
Christians eventually built sanctuaries, churches, or houses of worship. Over time, one of the traditions that developed was the practice of burying the remains of believers on or adjacent to the church property. Many of the great cathedrals of Europe have the remains of church leaders buried within the walls of the building. The Alabama countryside is dotted with cemetaries that are adjacent to churches. In recent years, a number of churches in the Birmingham area have reclaimed this ancient tradition by providing a sacred place for the remains of believers to be placed. Such a place is called a Columbarium; a sacred place for cremated human remains.
The McGimsey Garden and Columbarium at Vestavia Hills UMC
The McGimsey Garden and Columbarium at VHUMC, located between the Sanctuary and Rutland-Memorial Chapel, symbolizes the union of the Church – past, present, and future. It has been carefully designed to not only be a beautiful memorial to loved ones, but a place of rest and peaceful reflection for all who seek a quiet place to be in communion with God.
The Columbarium contains 160 niches, each of which holds the remains of up to four people. Each of the 12 by 12 inch niches can accomodate up to four 5″x8″x6″ urns. Each niche is faced with a plaque of bronze which can be engraved with a family name, Christian name(s), and birth and death dates. The purchase of a niche includes a 5″x8″x6″ urn, engraving, opening and closing, and are available to members of Vestavia Hills UMC.
The church believes this service enhances our spiritual lives, and provides a sacred place for meditation and remembrance, in addition to providing an internment option that is holy, respectful, and economic.
For additional information, please email Gary Wyatt or call him at (205) 822-9631.