Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
November 4 - 5, 2016
North American burial practices are changing. Growing numbers of people are seeking simpler and more natural ways of returning to the earth. Today’s natural burial movement emphasizes a number of practices: dignified care for the body at the time of death, normally without embalming; attention to environmental concerns when practicing cremation; burial in simple coffins or shrouds; and an intentional return to the earth, with some burials offering legal protection for ecological burial preserves.
In most traditions, natural burial is marked by deep spiritual dimensions. From ancient traditions to emerging spiritualities, the practices of natural burial ritualize the intertwined identity of humans and the earth: ashes to ashes, earth to earth, dust to dust. Especially with increasing awareness of ecological concerns, many people are seeking spiritual meaning through burial practices that honor the body and embrace the goodness of earth.
This conference explores natural burial as a spiritual practice. With the help of a diverse group of experts and practitioners, we will pursue a number of questions:
- how is natural burial being practiced, and what are the spiritual and theological interpretations it is given?
- what resources do individuals need to plan both practically and meaningfully for natural burial?
- what steps can communities of faith take to develop or deepen ministries of natural burial?
- how can hospice, funeral providers, cemeteries, and land trusts offer services for natural burial?
- how do the spiritualities of natural burial connect to wider concerns of justice, environmental care, inter-religious dialog, theology, and human meaning?
While the conference takes place at a Lutheran Christian seminary and ample attention will be given to Christian theologies and practice, a number of different religious traditions will be represented. People of all faith — and no particular faith — are very much welcomed and honored. Indeed, because the basic practices of natural burial share some striking commonalities across lands, histories, and cultures, conference attendees will have some common motifs through which to approach a beautiful diversity of spiritualities and practices.
Who should attend?
- interested individuals (planning care for themselves or others)
- leaders of faith communities
- pastors, social justice/eco team members, church musicians
- scholars (especially in ecotheology, pastoral care, and ritual)
- funeral service providers, cemetery managers and board members
- land trust stakeholders
- hospital chaplains
- hospice care providers
Early registration (ends October 18): $75
Conference registration: $100 (after October 18, 2016)
Student registration: $35