Religious View On Cremation: Methodist
According to the Cremation Association of North America, cremation rates are expected to reach 60.7% in the United States and 77.6% in Canada by 2024. This is up from 54.6% in the United States in 2019 and 73.1% in Canada. This rate has been increasing steadily since 2004 where the average rate was just 31.2% in the United States and 52.4% in Canada. In fact, the rate has been increasing ever since with an average of between 1 and 2% growth each year.
These statistics show us that as a form of burial, cremations are becoming increasingly popular with rapid growth and no signs of slowing down.
Why are more Americans choosing cremation?
Americans are likely more inclined to choose a cremation because it can be a comforting way to commemorate the life of the deceased. It gives friends and family a chance to say their last goodbyes to the deceased. There’s also the option of having a cremation with services that functions much like a traditional funeral. It’s also possible to have a traditional funeral before or after the cremation. It also has financial benefits since there is no need to purchase a casket or headstone. You can also avoid paying for a gravesite or a fee to a cemetery if the ashes are scattered or kept in an urn.
If the cremated remains (also known as cremains) are kept in an urn, it’s possible to carry them with the surviving family members or friends. Alternatively, friends and family members can also choose to submit the cremains to create cremation jewelry. A small amount of ashes can be used together with special resins to create a unique-looking gemstone with the deceased’s remains. Alternatively, there are some forms of cremation jewelry that act as small containers. These are known as cremation urn pendants.
However, some do prefer to have a proper burial even with cremation. As we have hopefully shown, cremation offers many more possibilities to friends and family members. It gives you more options financially to commemorate the life of the deceased, and allows one to choose the right option for their budget.
What are the Methodist views on the afterlife?
According to annual conference membership and attendance statistics of The United Methodist Church from 2018, roughly 2.04% of Americans identify as Methodist. This is a number that has slowly declined since 2007 where the number stood at 5.1%. Despite the seemingly low number, this still accounts for over 6.6 million Americans.
All Christians have their personal beliefs on death and the afterlife. To Methodists, mortal life is seen as a gift given from God, and to live a full life is to make it worthwhile. In this sense, life can be considered a temporary gift from God, meaning that death is a natural part of that process. In other words, Methodists believe that we must all eventually return to our creator.
Like most Christian sects, Methodists have a firm belief in the afterlife. They believe that those who dedicate their lives to loving God will spend the rest of eternity with Him in Heaven. Conversely, those that disobey God will be sent to Hell. Methodists also have a firm stance on resurrection. Since Christ died and was resurrected, Methodists believe it will happen again when Christ returns to earth. Those that have passed and went to Heaven are resurrected with Christ to live together with God.
While emotional, death isn’t always seen as a sad occasion by Methodists. Mourning is normal for friends and family members, but there are often positive connotations that can help them face grief. The idea that their loved one will return to Heaven to be with God often provides them with peace to help cope with the loss.
Due to the Methodist approach to the afterlife, there is nothing to suggest that cremation is unacceptable or frowned upon. It remains a popular funeral option for their loved ones, especially if they are facing financial difficulties or would like to have an object such as a cremation urn represent their loved one.
What are Methodist views on burials and remembering loved ones?
Unlike many other traditions and customs, Methodists typically don’t have a specific burial practice or method of remembering the deceased. Each family tends to have its own common practices. It’s less reliant on the faith as a whole and more the personal preference of the family in question. This makes Methodist traditions much more flexible, giving families the freedom to make a burial choice that best fits their own beliefs, world view, and circumstances.
Methodists often pick between a burial and a cremation. The United Methodist Church assumes that bodies will be buried, but most leaders will understand if you prefer cremation. Most cremations are allowed by some form of burial, such as placing the ashes in the ground with an urn. However, it’s also perfectly acceptable to carry the ashes with you in an urn or as part of a piece of jewelry to remember the deceased by.
What are Methodist views on cremation?
While leaders are typically very open about offering different methods of burial and remembering the dead, there are some in the church that actively speaks against cremation.
The Hebrew Bible states that if a body was burned, it could have shown a sign of disrespect for the person or as a punishment for committing a sin (Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 20:14; 21:9; Joshua 7:25). However, it also appears that cremation may have occurred with no intent to dishonor the dead after a plague or massacre (Amos 6:9-10).
Cremation was a widely practiced type of funeral during the time of Jesus. The Greeks also used cremation regularly. However, Jews and Christians rarely practiced it because of the belief that there was a physical resurrection. They argued that the body must not be cremated because the believer’s soul would return to their body in the future. With Christianity’s widespread influence, the practice of cremation almost disappeared until around 200 years ago. The only notable exception to this was during times of plague where the bodies had to be burned to prevent the spread of the disease. It was also used during times of war when numbers of deceased were too high and needed to be cared for in a quick and timely fashion.
Even if one did not believe in the reuniting of the soul and body, they may still be hesitant to embrace cremation. Others believe that cremation only speeds up what nature will eventually do itself. However, there are multiple references to “urn” in the Service of Death and Resurrection document provided by the United Methodist Church. More specifically, the quote reads “The coffin or urn may be carried into the place of worship in procession, in which case the pall may be placed on it outside the place of worship”.
Methodist views on organ donation
Methodists are encouraged to donate their organs. The church is committed to medicine and science as ways of healing. They believe in healthcare for all and that organ donation and transplantation is a gift that can be given back. It allows families to support one another and offer support for others that may need it the most.
As quoted by the Social Principles of the United Methodists:
"Organ transplantation and organ donation are acts of charity, agape love, and self-sacrifice. We recognize the life-giving benefits of organ and other tissue donation and encourage all people of faith to become organ and tissue donors as part of their love and ministry to others in need.”
In addition, the General Conference urges all United Methodist congregations to celebrate an “Organ Donation Sunday” on the second Sunday prior to Thanksgiving week. This is recognized in interfaith circles in the United States as “National Donor Sabbath”.
Thankfully, organ donation does not impede or prevent one from requesting a cremation.
Methodists take a simple approach to funeral traditions
Methodists have a very simple approach to funeral customs. They like to commemorate the life of their loved ones, but they don’t take an over-the-top approach with fanfare and lots of guests. A simple approach like this may be strange for other religions or customs, but it’s a simple form of comfort that many Methodists prefer. It removes much of the stress of planning a funeral and alleviates some of the financial burden associated with burying a loved one. It gives them more time to focus on prayer, their community and to commemorate the life of the deceased.
The Methodist church leaves the issue of cremation or burial in the hands of the family and friends of the deceased. Though the Methodist faith does believe in a resurrection, they focus on the spiritual body that is raised. In the teachings of Paul in I Corinthians 15, it is suggested that there is a “spiritual body that is raised of which our perishable, corruptible bodies are at most but the seed”.
This is consistent with the words of Bishop Jimmy Nunn, Oklahoma Area of The United Methodist Church. He states that “The United Methodist Church does not espouse a formal position on the issue of cremation. Burial or cremation is a personal decision and either method should be conducted with dignity and respect. The power of God and the resurrection is not limited by either option.” In short, there is neither a yes or no answer when it comes to Methodist views on cremation and it’s up to the individual families to decide.
Since cremation isn’t frowned upon by the majority of the Methodist church, it also allows you to carry the remains of your loved one in an urn or a piece of jewelry that has been created with their ashes. For many people, this can be a more personal and heartfelt gesture than to bury the remains or to scatter them in a specific location. Cremation jewelry can also be a great way to keep a loved one close to your heart after they have passed. It can provide much comfort and peace to help cope with grief, and there are many options to help you choose the ideal piece for your preferences.
Lastly, the financial impact of a funeral can be too much for some families to handle. In fact, many families are unable to afford a funeral due to the high costs associated with purchasing a casket, headston, and gravesite. There may also be additional fees to pay the cemetery. In addition, some families would not accept an inexpensive or poorly-made casket and would prefer to purchase something that offers them peace of mind. A typical casket could cost more than $2,000. There are also fees associated with the service itself, such as embalming the body if you’re planning a viewing or visitation.
When it comes to cremation, you can avoid many of these costs. In most cases, embalming is not necessary if the body will be buried or cremated shortly after death. It also eliminates the need for purchasing different items such as a casket. In comparison, cremation jewelry can be a much more affordable and personal option to remember a loved one. In fact, a small vial of your loved one’s ashes could be enough to make up to 30 pieces of jewelry. This allows every loved one or family member to hold a piece of the deceased close to their heart.
If you’d like to learn more about cremation jewelry, don’t hesitate to contact us today at Cherished Emblems.