Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Jim Rozier says it is the best deal around.
Rozier, the former Berkeley County Supervisor, is talking about the columbarium at Mepkin Abbey, which sits peacefully along a gravel walkway with an oak-tree lined grassy knoll on one side and sweet grass plants on the other.
Since the monks are often busy and have little contact with the outside world, Rozier oversees columbarium activity. He has been involved with the Mepkin community since he was a child. “The goal is for the columbarium to blend in and become part of Mepkin,” Rozier said.
There are single and double columbariums available, the latter of which allow two people in the same spot, such as a husband and wife. The columbarium is four levels high on one side and two on the other.
“The foundation is already here for the next two sections,” Rozier said. The columbarium has an unlimited capacity to expand, he added.
The columbarium, which serves to raise funds for the monastery to keep it self-sustaining, was successful in its first year, Rozier said.
“It’s been well received and embraced by the public,” Rozier said. “It’s open to everybody. These people are thought of and prayed for seven times a day by the monks.”
People from all over the country – from Oregon, California, New York, New Jersey and Florida just to name a few – have bought their place in the columbarium.
“It’s easy to ship ashes,” Rozier said. “A bronze urn comes with each purchase. It includes everything but the cremation. A portion is tax deductible. All in all it’s a heck of a deal.
“When they purchase they also do a tremendous service for the (Mepkin) family and assure the monastery will be in operation.”
Rozier has a management plan for the property, which has a conservation easement. “It’s an insurance policy you don’t have with private cemeteries,” he said.
As guests walk past the columbarium Rozier stops them to say hello. One visitor saw Rozier and thanked him profusely for helping with her own plans for eventually being placed in the columbarium. Rozier said everyone’s reaction is equally enthusiastic.
Rozier ran a cemetery for 11 years starting in 1983. He gave it up when he became Berkeley County Supervisor in 1991, a position he held until 2007.
“Mepkin is a place of life, not a cemetery,” Rozier said. “Twenty-five thousand people visited out here last year.”
The abbey gift shop is open Tuesday – Sunday, although the columbarium is open seven days a week, Rozier said.
For more information on the columbarium, Rozier can be reached at (843) 729-6508.