Presbyterians prefer cremation, no funeral

Memorial services favored
A funeral complete with casket? Plenty of Presbyterian pastors and parishioners polled on the matter prefer a memorial service to a funeral, and want their bodies cremated rather than buried.

The periodic survey by the Presbyterian Panel measured pastors’ and members’ thoughts about death and dying in late 2002; the findings were released last month. The survey went to 3,000 members, elders and ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Forty percent of members and 53 percent of pastors want to be cremated; about 20 percent of respondents weren’t sure. Among those who want to be cremated, one-third of pastors and members want their ashes scattered, while 30 percent of pastors and 25 percent of members want their ashes buried. About 13 percent from both groups want their ashes placed in a memorial columbarium, while only 4 percent of members and 1 percent of pastors want the ashes kept by a loved one.


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