GoFundMe funerals. You’ve probably heard of them.
Suddenly, on the motorway, a mother and her two toddlers are killed in an accident. The mother happens to be “too poor to die,” so her Christian church rallies to pay funeral expenses in excess of $20K. One member mounts a GoFundMe campaign that makes the rounds on social media. It comes to me via Facebook feed.
Thanks to “Fund-Me Fatigue,” I scroll by.
There IS a better way. My proposal: Christian churches, like the other Abrahamic faiths, should adopt a standing committee to bury their own. I call it the John 19 Committee, after the New Testament verses that describe the burial of Jesus.
Others, including J. Mark and Elizabeth J. Barna, call it a proper Christian ending. Their A Christian Ending is a handbook for churches that want to move the “home burial” into the context of a Christian community. Church members receive the body and prepare it for burial.
There were no funeral homes in ancient Palestine. Jesus’ contemporaries buried him a la Jewish custom — according to John 19:39-40 — using linen, myrrh, and lignum aloes. Basically, strips of cloth and spices.
Avoiding GoFundMe funerals — advantages
Christians: You can still do this today. A DIY church funeral in most states (exceptions here) is legal and practical. You’ll be sending home your own in a special way, hewing to early church roots. You’ll be reclaiming for your community a sacred right, a spiritual work of mercy that binds dead to living and living to each other. The power is deep.
Moreover, you’ll be saving families thousands of dollars — and fighting the need for GoFundMe funerals.
Yes, there’s a green aspect to a church funeral, and here I mean greenbacks, or cold cash. The John 19 Committee, in my conception, would ask from the family a standard donation. The amount covers costs plus a little extra. In this way, the church diverts into its coffers part of a revenue stream that is currently going to funeral homes. So a John 19 Committee benefits a church spiritually and financially.
How to start such a committee? Call us at Piedmont Pine Coffins, 919-704-6392. We’d be glad to help set you up for church funerals.
Finally, we’ll be pushing out this good news soon. Watch Facebook for our GoFundMe campaign about GoFundMe funerals. 😉 Not.
And finally finally, let’s zoom out and say that on this path of reclamation — well, you don’t have to be a Christian church at all. You could simply be a group of friends in a small town who find valuable, for various reasons, the idea of a burial society. Like these friends in Australia did. Explore their reasons in a 2013 documentary called Tender.