St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Columbaria Frequently Asked Questions

St. Paul’s is blessed  with the privilege of being able to offer for sale to the general public, non-denominational columbarium niches in two styles, “freestanding” in granite units with highly polished black faceplates and “along the wall” in bronze with bronze faceplates. We believe pre-planning these matters has many advantages, such as putting you in control of a major part of the costs involved at end of life as well as reducing the stress of family and loved ones at a time of deep emotion. Having a niche also provides a place for loved ones to visit when so desired. To this end, we offer the following “frequently asked questions”

1. What exactly is a Columbarium?

From the Latin word, devecote, a columbarium is a structure consisting of a series of niches within a vault or along a wall, recessed to accommodate the cremated remains of the dead.

2. Who may purchase a niche in your Columbarium?

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Sparks offers for sale, niches to the general public at a current price of $1,500.00 per niche (accommodates one set of cremains), as of November 2022.

3. How are these prices set?

The Vestry (Board of Directors), after careful consideration as to the area market prices as well as other criteria such as maintenance etc. determines the price of a niche. This is reviewed from time to time and adjustments may be made without notice.

4. Is any portion of the purchase price tax deductible?

St. Paul’s does not offer tax advice. Please consult with your tax advisor to address this issue.

5. How much does the faceplate cost?

The faceplate is included in the purchase price of the niche and will be ordered at the time of purchase. There are two types of faceplates, a cast bronze, for niches along the wall and a highly polished black East Indian granite for the freestanding columbarium niches. Within each of these types all faceplates have only the name, birth year and death year cast or etched into them. There is a generic scroll on the cast bronze plate and a generic rose etched into the granite plate. No exceptions are granted to these designs as the intent is to present a uniform appearance throughout the columbaria. You will be given the option a the time of purchase as to your desire to have faceplate installed upon receipt or at time of death.

6. Will there be extra costs at interment?

Interment of the ashes into the niche is included in the purchase price. It should be noted that the niches along the wall have a special container that holds the ashes, therefore personal urns are not able to be used.

The freestanding niches are Companion niches measuring 12″x12″x12″clear, intended to hold two urns. The type of urn is your choice and would be normally handled at the time of cremation. The only criteria is that the urn must be no more than 6 inches wide and made of a permanent material as the niches are not air tight. If the desire is to have a memorial and/or commitment service it is normal to provide an honorarium to St. Paul’s for the services of the clergy. In addition if so desired St. Paul’s offers the Parish Hall for rental for receptions. Other costs to you are the cost of the cremation itself and possibly other expenses incurred related to the cremation.

7. What types of decorations/flowers can I place on the niche?

St. Paul’s Columbarium Policy approved by the Vestry states:

1. In-ground vases are provided for the entire columbarium; therefore your flowers may or may not be in front of a specific columbarium niche.

2. Any flowers or other adornments can be removed at St. Paul’s sole discretion.

It is customary, if there has been a service involved where wreaths have been gifted, that they may be placed near the niche for a period of not more than one week. St. Paul’s has a Columbarium team that oversees and maintains the area and will dispose of them when appropriate. The team also provides “appropriate to the season” artificial floral arrangements in each of the containers year round. St. Paul’s encourages that in lieu of flowers, a contribution to the deceased’s favorite charity or to St. Paul’s Memorial Fund be made. Contributions to St. Paul’s of $100.00 or more will provide for a leaf in memory of the deceased on our Tree of Life located in the Narthex (foyer) of the church.

8. How is the Columbarium administered?

St. Paul’s has a small Columbarium Team that acts under the guidance of the Rector and Vestry and deals with all matters regarding columbarium activity including record keeping and maintenance of the entire Memorial Garden.

9. What records are maintained?

A hard copy of the contract, the death certificate, interment date and other paperwork related to the deceased is kept in the church files. Electronic copies of much of this data is also kept in the computers. In addition, if a service is performed by St. Paul’s clergy an entry is made into certain official church record books.

10. Can I specify a desired location of the niche?

At the time purchase we will make an appointment with you to do a walk-through in the garden to pick the available niche you desire. All niches are mapped and the chosen niche number will be on the contract.

11. What personal identification appears on the faceplate?

The last name, first name and middle name or initial along with the year of birth and year of death are the only things allowed on any our faceplates. The minimal decorations on the faceplates are all the same for their type.

12. Can I resell the niche and are they refundable?

No. It is agreed in the purchase contract that neither the buyer nor their heirs are acquiring any property interest or rights to the columbarium or any niche. Columbaria are not real estate, thus can’t be resold. The niches at St. Paul’s are non-refundable. 

13. Can I reassign who is to be placed in the niche?

Yes. Prior to any ashes being interred in the niche the contract holder may reassign who may be placed in the niche. There is a “consent to assignment” provision on page one of the contract. If a faceplate has already been manufactured for the person originally assigned, the price of a new faceplate will be charged before ashes can be interred.

14. Can ashes be removed once interred?

Sometimes there are circumstances where the buyer has the desire to remove the deceased ashes such as moving across the country and wanting the ashes close by. This can be considered by St. Paul’s and if agreed to by all parties, an Indemnity and Hold Harmless Agreement can be signed and the ashes taken. The buyer is responsible for any and all paperwork that may be required by the government for transporting the ashes and the buyer forfeits all rights to the niche.

15. Can I or my loved ones visit the niche outside of Church hours?

Yes. All gates to the Memorial Garden are open 24/7 the year round. St. Paul’s asks only that they respect the property and the rights of any attendees should there be an event occurring at the time of the visit.

16. Can friends or loved ones leave flowers or other forms of memorial at the niche?

See question 7 regarding criteria for flowers and decorations. Inappropriate items will be removed immediately by St. Paul’s personnel.

17. What is the process to purchase a niche?

Contact the church office 775-358-4474 or [email protected] to obtain an information packet which includes a sample contract, an application form, St. Paul’s official Policy regarding the Columbarium and some other papers and forms not addressed in this FAQ section.


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