- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Suburban Philadelphia churches are responding to a growing trend toward cremation by creating memorial gardens or vaults for their members’ ashes.

Pastor Steve Morton of Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downingtown says the church wants to provide a sacred place for remains.

Industry experts tell The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://goo.gl/odkY9l) that more Americans are choosing cremation for financial reasons or convenience.

Funerals cost an average $7,000 in 2012. That compares to $1,600 for a spot in Hopewell’s columbaria, and $350 to scatter ashes in the garden.

Other churches are revising their policies on cremation. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia now teaches that ashes may be buried, but not scattered.

Debra Boyd has traded her Hopewell burial plot for a columbaria niche. She jokes that she’ll have the top corner - and a great view.

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