First United Methodist Church - Wausau Wisconsin
Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Conference & Connections

This article comes from the United Methodist Church website,

What are the Church’s views on Cremation, Organ Donation?


The Bible does not speak about cremation vs. burial, but usually assumes that bodies will be buried. In the cultures that produced the Hebrew Bible, if a body was burned, it often would have been a sign of disrespect for the person or a punishment for sin (Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 20:14; 21:9; Joshua 7:25). However, it appears cremation may have occurred with no intent to dishonor the dead after a plague or large massacre
(Amos 6:9-10).

At the time of Jesus, cremation was widely practiced by the Romans, occasionally by the Greeks, but rarely by Jews and Christians. This was because of the belief of both religions in a physical resurrection to come. With the spread of Christianity, cremation disappeared almost entirely as a practice in the West until about 200 years ago. Notable exceptions occurred during times of plague and war when large numbers of the deceased needed to be cared for quickly.

Some of those opposing cremation argue the body must not be cremated because at some future date the believer's soul will be reunited with his or her body. Even some who do not hold the soul is separable from the body may express hesitancy to embrace cremation. Still others conclude that since cremation only does rapidly what nature will do also more slowly, cremation is acceptable.
References to "urn" and "interment of ashes" in our Services of Death and Resurrection indicate the practice of cremation is considered an acceptable means of honoring the deceased.

Organ Donation

United Methodists encourage organ donation. Our Social Principles explain:

"Organ transplantation and organ donation are acts of charity, agape love, and self-sacrifice. We recognize the life-giving benefits of organ and other tissue donation and encourage all people of faith to become organ and tissue donors as part of their love and ministry to others in need." (¶ 162 W). The church urges all United Methodist congregations to celebrate "Organ Donation Sunday," preferably on the second Sunday in November, as "a time to come together around the issues of life and Thanksgiving.” This date is recognized in interfaith circles in the U.S. as "National Donor Sabbath.”

Read more: How is cremation and organ donation consistent with resurrection of the body?

Have questions? Ask The UMC or talk with a pastor near you. And check out other recent Q&As.
This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.

First United Methodist Church of Wausau is a member of the Wisconsin Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC). The beauty of being a member church is that we are connected with all UM churches around the world, a connection that strength-ens us as a church and as a denomination. Through this connection we’re able to support missions and ministries far from home. We can respond to disasters and emergencies through our apportionment giving. ( )
Through the connectional system, we have many re-sources at our fingertips. Some you may find helpful are:

The General Board of Global Ministries is the mission agency of The United Methodist Church. Its purpose is to connect local, district, and conference churches in mission. The GBGM equips and transforms people and places for God’s work around the world.
As part of Global Ministries, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering around the world.

Discipleship Ministries provides leadership and re-sources in the areas of spiritual growth and development, including devotional literature, curricula, evangelism, worship, stewardship, and ministry of the laity.

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