1. Are natural or “green” burials ecologically sound?
Very much so. Embalming fluids are toxic and pollute the earth and ground water, whereas humans have naturally returned to nurture the earth for tens of thousands of years with only positive environmental consequences.
2 Are coffins allowed?
Coffins of re-cycled wood or simple pine boxes are allowed but not recommended. Modern coffins are often constructed of precious woods from our disappearing rain forests and then buried to rot. This is contrary to the wishes of God the Creator. We recommend simple shrouds of bio-degradable materials.
3. If embalming is not allowed, how soon must the body be buried?
According to Texas statute, un-embalmed bodies must be buried within 24 hours of death. An exception may be for bodies that have been property refrigerated until time of burial. Texas State Law must be followed in this regard.
4. May our family pets be buried on our plot?
Of course. God created, and loves all creatures both great and small and especially those animals that have provided your family with love and affection. They too are worthy of eternity with you in Paradise. Who would want to go to a “heaven” devoid of puppies, singing birds, or kitty cats? Sky burial at our Ethician Vulture Sanctuary is recommended for all pets before burial and is mandatory for very large pets such as horses.
5. How deep must the grave be?
According to Texas Law, graves must be at least 24” deep if there is no impermeable coffin. For bodies that are wrapped in a blanket, the depth of the grave will be 36". It is recommended that the body of the deceased by covered as tightly as possible to prevent scavengers from digging into the grave. Although philosophically we are happy if some of God’s creatures, such as coyotes find nourishment for their families, we suspect that the public health authorities and the public at large would not understand.
6. May we plant roses or other plants or flowers at the grave site?
As this is a wilderness cemetery that is already blessed with dozens of beautiful native species and is a protected native gene pool preserve we do not allow any planting of exotic or alien species which could disrupt the native biota. Families are expected to remove any invasive species such as Chinese Tallow that might appear naturally in the sanctuary.
7. How will the grave be dug?
We encourage family and friends to dig the grave using hand tools. Mechanical means, such as backhoes are not allowed. The family of the deceased may use outside contractors to dig and fill the grave but they must use only hand tools.
8. Who will perform the burial service or ceremony?
We encourage family and friends to conduct the graveside services according to the wishes of the deceased or according to family spiritual tradition. Clergy may be asked to perform the services as well. The adjacent Chapel of the Nativity is available 24 hours a day for wakes, services, or ceremonies.
9. What about cremated remains?
Cremated remains may be scattered or buried. We prefer the burial of whole bodies as the act of cremation wastes precious fossil fuels, creates air pollution, and contributes to global warming.
10. Is the “Ethician Family Cemetery” a “perpetual” cemetery?
The answer to that question is a little bizarre because according to Texas State Law a cemetery cannot be called “perpetual” unless there is a formal fund established for perpetual maintenance which means lawn mowing, poisoning the grounds, and wasting precious water resources. Our cemetery is “perpetually maintained” by God at no cost. God will not send a bill for bringing the rains and scattering the seeds. Thus, although the cemetery is in fact “perpetual” we are not allowed to legally say so, but I challenge the bureaucrats to say that we cannot say that it is “perpetually maintained by the loving hand of God”.
11. What kinds of monuments or markers are allowed?
Only 1% of the ground surface may be covered with tombstones or other memorials. As the average family plot is around 10,000 square feet or more, 100 square feet may eventually be covered with memorial markers, benches, or monuments. We recommend a family history marker at the edge of the plot along the adjacent woodland trail and require that each grave be marked at the head and foot with some kind of aesthetically pleasing non-toxic marker such as native stones with inscriptions.
12. Is there any limit to the number of graves allowed on any given plot?
We suggest a limit of 12 human graves and a maximum of 24 pet graves. An exception may be requested of the stewardship committees of The Universal Ethician Church and Natural Area Preservation Association.
13. I’m gay and have a partner. Is he (she) considered a part of my family?
Of course. Families take many forms. The only requirement to be considered a family member is that the person is “considered” to be a part of the family to whom the plot has been assigned and that the person has attempted to live according to the “golden rule” and meets or has met the basic requirements for membership in the greater Ethician family.
14. How much does a family plot cost?
As an Ethician Church Cemetery, we are not in the business of selling plots. Plots are assigned to families upon application to the Church. Dormant plots may be reassigned. However, we must have funds in order to purchase, preserve and protect examples of God’s Creation as Wilderness Cemeteries or Wilderness Cathedrals, thus we expect a donation based on family income and ability to pay. We also expect that the estate of the deceased and/or surviving family members will continue to contribute financially to the missions of the Ethician Church.
15. Are there tax advantages associated with the acquisition of a family plot?
There certainly can be. For example, let’s us assume that the appraised real estate value of a given plot is $1,000 and the family acquiring the plot contributes $10,000 to the Ethician Church, which might represent the cost savings of avoiding just one “modern” materialistic funeral and burial, then $9,000 would be a tax-deductible donation to our 501 c 3 church. Please consult your accountant to make sure that you follow current IRS guidelines and procedures. 100% of future contributions would thereafter be tax-deductible. As our Church has no paid staff, jet planes, parsonages or other perks, you can be sure that your contributions are being used to further the work of the Church and its missions.
16. May we place a bench on our plot to use while visiting?
Sure. Be sure to purchase a chain and lock and make sure that the bench is secured to a nearby tree. (Please do not purchase benches made of teak or other precious woods) While meditating, praying or celebrating the life or lives of deceased family members and pets you may drink a glass of wine or eat a snack. Please, please remove any bottles, paper, or trash from your family plot and pick up any refuse that you may find that others may have left. Smoking of tobacco products is strictly forbidden in the cemetery for both health and fire prevention purposes.
17. I don’t live in Texas. Are there “green cemeteries” in other states?
America’s first “green cemetery” was established in South Carolina. Visit www.memorialecosystems.com for more information. America’s second “green cemetery” was established in Florida. Visit www.glendalenaturepreserve.org. There are around 200 “green cemeteries” in England and we are hopeful that the United States will be blessed with many hundreds in all 50 states in the next few years.
18. What if I have other questions?
Please feel free to ask and we will add our answers to your questions to our FAQ’s.