April 12th, 2013
12:01 PM ET
By Sara Sidner, CNN
Sea of Galilee (CNN) - When I am visiting the United States and tell people I live in the Middle East I generally get one of two responses:
“Seriously? Isn’t it dangerous? Stay safe out there.”
Or some version of:
“Wow. There is so much Biblical history there. I have always dreamed about going to the Holy Land but doubt I’ll ever get the chance.”
I never thought I’d be able to give the latter this option for a visit.
A new business called Holy Land Ash Scattering is targeting U.S. Christians as customers.
Company president Larry Deverett says he has found the perfect spot for people of the Christian faith to have their own or their loved ones cremated remains scattered.
The spot is located in a small garden in an orchard on a hill above the Sea of Galilee, the area where the New Testament says Jesus prayed, taught and performed many miracles including walking on water.
“I researched the market and found that there is a strong need and demand for this type of service and the No. 1 location on the planet, when you are talking about spirituality, is the Holy Land,” Deverett said.
Deverett knows there will always be potential clients. The funeral industry will always have a source of clients since we all have to go sometime, and many of us will likely have a funeral of some sort.
U.S. Funeral Directors Association statistics show the rate of cremation has doubled in the past 15 years. The association says in 2011 about 42% of people who died were cremated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show about 2.5 million people die each year in the United States.
Most folks in the funeral industry are well aware that with the baby boomer generation headed into its “golden years“ there will likely be a ballooning number of funerals on the horizon.
One reason for an upswing in cremations may be economics. Simply put, cremation is cheaper than a burial.
As Deverett found out, there are also business opportunities to be had with remains that are already cremated.
"There are literally tens if not hundreds of thousands of urns sitting in people's homes, and people really don't know what to do with those ashes. You know at some point in time whether they are moving or after a few years they want to do something proper with the ashes," he said.
For $750 after cremation, you can have your ashes shipped and scattered near the “Jesus Trail,” where a bearded man resembling a person right out of the Bible performs a ceremony. It is all put on a DVD and sent to the family.
The company is looking into trying to do a live feed over the Internet so you can watch it in real time.
“It’s a great privilege to be able to do this act of loving kindness for our Christian brothers and sisters, ” said Benzion Lehrer, who says the prayer and scatters the ashes.
Deverett is hoping to draw business from far and wide.
But the President of Holy Land Ash Scattering can’t use the service for himself or his family. He is Jewish and adheres to the traditional belief that his faith forbids cremation.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.