St. Mark's Columbarium

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1.    What is a columbarium? “Columbarium” is a term derived from the Latin word Columba, or dove, a symbol of God’s spirit and peace.  It is a structure, often a vault or wall, with niches for urns containing the cremated remains of the dead.

2.    Why should I choose the Columbarium at St. Mark’s for myself or my family?  Historically, Christians have laid the dead to rest in churches, where they are remembered and their remains safe‐guarded.  Burial within the church itself, or in the adjacent churchyard was once a common practice.  In San Francisco, where there are no public cemeteries, our columbarium offers parishioners a final resting place within our own church building.

3.    Where is the Columbarium at St. Mark’s?  The columbarium is inside the church and spans 8 feet on the west wall outside the chancel.  There are a total of 14 single niches, each 12” high x 8 ¾ ” wide x  9 ½ ” deep and 14 double niches, each 12” high x 18 ½ ”wide x 9 ½ ” deep.

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4.    Who is eligible to buy a niche?  Current or former members of record at St. Mark’s may purchase a niche subscription.

5.    Who is eligible for interment here?  Parishioners eligible to purchase a niche subscription and their designees are eligible for internment.

6.    May I specify a de­sired niche location? Yes.  Niches are selected and assigned on a first‐come, first served basis. Upon first payment to‐ward the niche subscription, the subscriber may specify by number the desired niche/niches. Upon complete payment of each niche subscription, the subscriber will receive a signed certificate for permanent use of the specified niche.

7.   Could the remains or partial remains of more than two people be placed in a double niche if that were the family’s wish? No.

8.   How much does a niche subscription cost? The price range for niches is as follows: Single Niches are either $1500 or $2500 depending on location Double Niches are either $3000 or $5000 depending on location. 

9.   Will there be extra costs at interment? No. But note – the subscription cost does not cover the cost of cremation nor the purchase of an urn or other receptacle for cremated remains; these arrangements are to be made separately by the subscriber or the family of the deceased.

10.   Is some portion of the subscription cost counted toward my annual contribution to St. Mark’s? No. No reference will appear on your St. Mark’s statements of contributions.

11.   Is some portion of the subscription cost of a niche tax deductible? St. Mark’s Lutheran Church recommends that you consult with your tax advisor on this point and offers no tax advice.

12.   What if I buy a niche, and then eventually decide to make arrangements for burial or interment someplace else? May I get a refund? St. Mark’s will not issue re‐funds. May I resell my niche subscription? If you discover that you don’t need the niche after you’ve purchased a subscription and you want to resell it, you must first offer it to St. Mark’s at your original purchase price.

13.   Will visitors have access to the columbarium outside of regular church hours? (e.g., Saturdays or evenings?) For security reasons, the area containing the columbarium is open to visitors only during church hours on Sun‐days or other times when there are worship services. Otherwise, you may obtain access through the church office during regular church office hours, Monday through Friday. It is suggested that visitors phone the office in advance so that they will be expected and arrangements can be made for access to the church. Phone 415.928.7770.

14.  Will visitors be allowed to leave flowers or other forms of memorial at the foot of the columbarium? Family and friends who wish to honor their loved one with flowers are encouraged to contact St. Mark’s church office to sponsor dedicated floral arrangements for the worship services on a Sunday.

15. Is St. Mark’s pledging to tend the columbarium in perpetuity? As long as St. Mark’s Lutheran Church exists, it will exercise thorough and reasonable care in maintaining the columbarium.

16. There are a limited number of niches. How will St. Mark’s accommodate future generations who wish to be interred here? An outside garden may be considered in the future, when landscaping is redesigned.

17. Why doesn’t the church convey an estate or tenancy in real estate with a niche? If St. Mark’s Lutheran Church conveyed an estate or tenancy in real estate, this would mean that title to our land would be encumbered with estates or tenancies of the number of subscribed niches. If we ever wished to use the church as collateral for a mortgage, for example, this would involve gathering the signatures of all the niche holders or their heirs on a subordination agreement or other document.

18. How is the columbarium administered? The Committee of the Columbarium at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, a committee of parishioners and clergy, administers the columbarium.