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ICF General Council Meeting 2022, 13-16 October, Puerto Rico


Dear ICF member,

Now many of the remaining COVID-19 pandemic related international travel restrictions are (being) lifted, we look forward to organizing the ICF General Council Meeting 2022 in-person! It is our pleasure to announce that the GCM will be held during the ALPAR (Latin American Association of Cemeteries and Funeral Services) VI International Symposium which will take place from Thursday 13 – Sunday 16 October in San Juan, Puerto Rico. More details including the program and registration options are to follow soon. Our member ALPAR is a leading association with great recognition in the Funeral Industry worldwide, which brings together the companies of the Funeral Industry in Latin America, promoting cooperation among its members, offering specialized services and channelling to them those provided by other entities, as well as training the employees of the companies to achieve maximum levels of efficiency in operational and excellence in the provision of services to families.

Don’t miss out! Many important topics will be attended and the exchange of information on worldwide developments between the different organisations and countries is a core element. In our industry, urgent issues and inequalities are worth exploring and extensive knowledge is available to be shared in order to achieve a professional cooperation at an international level. 

During the GCM there will be the opportunity for ICF-members to present a ‘country report’. The secretariat welcomes suggestions from members of representatives of their country that are willing to give a short country presentation on the local developments in cremation.

We have two vacancies within our Executive Committee concerning the position of Vice-president. The following candidatures were submitted:

  • Mr Andrés Aguilar, nominated by ALPAR, Colombia
  • Professor Hilary J Grainger OBE, nominated by The Cremation Society, UK
  • Mr Thies Heinrich, nominated by the RAL Gütegemeinschaft Feuerbestattungsanlagen e.V., Germany

The elections will be part of the GCM. The Executive Committee recommends the membership to elect Mr Aguilar in relation to the aim of a global spread of the activities and Mrs Grainger for representation of The Cremation Society, being one of the founding members of the ICF.  

As communicated we are happy that three of our sub-committees have been re-established. The purpose is to modernise the concepts and set general guidelines in order to enable relevant discussions that address for example the challenges concerning the environment, the technical specification of the equipment and the service to the bereaved. We are grateful for the many applications to take part and the following appointments will be formally confirmed during the GCM:

ETHICAL SUB-COMMITTEE                                        

  • Mr Craig Caldwell, The Mazwell Group (UK)
  • Mr Svend-Jörk Sobolewski, CremTec (Germany)

suggested issues to raise: general acceptance of cremation / handling of metals remaining from ashes, focus on cultural differences and local customs

LEGAL SUB-COMMITTEE                                       

  • Mr Uwe Claußen, REMONDIS (Germany)
  • Professor Heather Conway, The Cremation Society (UK)
  • Mr Hidde Verberne, Orthometals (The Netherlands)

suggested issues to raise: charting laws and regulations

TECHNICAL SUB-COMMITTEE                                  

  • Mr Brendan Day, Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (UK)
  • Mr Andrew Mallalieu, The Cremation Society (UK)                                         
  • Mr Jeff Pickard, FT (UK)                                              
  • Mr Slobodan Stojanović, Cremation Association of Serbia ‘OGANJ’ (Serbia)                                        
  • Mr Stephen Wright, London Cremation Company plc (UK)                          
  • Mr Tom Wustenberghs, VNOC (Belgium)                                            
  • Mr Dieter Zahn, IFZW GmbH (Germany)

suggested issues to raise: research on environmental circumstances and developments worldwide / new technologies     

It is with sadness that we are remembering the loss of Mr Harvey Thomas, who was appointed recently in the new ICF Ethical sub-committee and was former Chairman of the Cremation Society among other various positions. Mr Harvey Thomas died on 13 March 2022. We wish his family and loved ones every strength.

Take care of yourself and others. We look very much forward to see you in Puerto Rico in October next!

Executive Committee

Environmental awareness report (FBCA)

Also published in Resurgam.

Here you can read the Environmental awareness report by the FBCA.

Covid 19 and cremation in Serbia/why there should be more crematoria in Serbia

Contributed message by ICF member      

Slobodan Stojanović, MA, Vice President of OGANJ

Probably, the year 2020 will be historiographically recorded and remembered for the appearance and action of the virus Covid 19, which changed a lot and imposed various new preoccupations.

One, among the current planetary preoccupations, seemingly less significant, is the influence of Covid 19 on cremations as a form of burial. It is understandable that death, and thus funerals, ie cremation, as delicate and not so widely attractive topics, were suppressed, but Covid 19 imposed them again in a peculiar way.

Recently published comparative data from the Republic Bureau of Statistics on the increase in mortality by 3.5 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 (January-October), indicate additional information, analysis, views and activities, primarily related to the pavidemic Covid 19 and cremation. A special testimony is the number of obituaries.

It is no coincidence that the original cremationist ideas and activities came from doctors for primarily hygienic and health reasons and motivation to prevent the spread of possible infections by burning the dead and for fire and high temperatures to be a kind of isolation and shield.

Thus, in Serbia, the crematist activities of the Oganj Society, founded in 1904, were led by Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, Dr. Vojislav Kujundžić, Dr. Milan Batut, Dr. Aleksandar Kostić and gathered people who accepted the crematist idea in the broadest philosophical form or in the narrowest pragmatist.

Crematorium Belgrade

There are currently two crematoria in Serbia and they have been operating since 1964 and 2004. Data on the number of deceased and cremated for the period January-October 2019 and 2020 in Belgrade and Novi Sad, which are marked as hotbeds of the Crown, are full of special attention.

The increase in the number of deaths in both cities was at the level of Serbia (with a lack of data for KIM) and also increased by 3.5 percent, ie from 84168 to 86798 in Belgrade and from 2675 to 2768 buried in Novi Sad.

In contrast to the steady increase in the number of deceased (3.5 percent), the increase in the number of cremated is significantly higher (7.1 percent)cfor Belgrade and 9.7 percent for N.Sad. Data on the number of cremated in Belgrade show an increase from 2421 to 2592, or by 171 more funerals performed in this way, and in N.Sad from 482 to 529 cremated, or 47 more.

Cumulative increase in cremation in these two cities, from January to October 2020 compared to the same period 2019; is 7.5 percent, or the number of cremated has increased from 2,903 to 3,121 deaths. This increase of 7.5 percent can be accepted as an increase in cremation at the level of Serbia.

Public Utility Company Funeral Services from Belgrade and Lisje from Novi Sad very quickly and efficiently adapted to the new situation caused by Covid 19. They bore the greatest burden in July and April when the number of deceased and cremated was the highest. for their cremation activities developed by themselves using current best practice and reference recommendations from international and domestic institutions. Therefore, the employees deserve all the praise (and decorations), similar to the medical staff, although they were not in the center of attention of the general public.

However, data on the share of the cremated in the total number of deceased in both 2019 (3.4 percent) and 2020 (3.6 percent) indicate that Serbia is lagging behind many countries where cremation is much more prevalent.

Comparative data from secondary sources of the European Union of Crematists (EUC) and the International Federation of Crematists (IFC) unequivocally show the growing importance of cremation and the share of cremation that reaches 90 percent of the number of deceased.

Particularly noteworthy is the case of France, in which the number of crematoria increased by 5 in 2020, so that there are now 198, and the share of cremated from 38.1 percent to 39.9 percent, and in which, among other things, each city is considered over 50,000 there should be a crematorium and the local self-government must take care of that.

Thanks to that, not only in France, but also especially in Italy and Great Britain, the pandemic shock is, as much as possible, relatively easier to resist with less stressful situations at all levels.

The Oganj Association, which marked its 115th anniversary with an international conference last year, advocates for a kind of encouragement of cremation and new broader approaches than spontaneous, sporadic and lonely enthusiastic ones. Along with them, systematic and organized efforts are urgent. Additional engagement of the public sector and support of the appropriate administration on the principles of greater respect for modern principles of solidarity and dignity are a challenge that lies ahead.

The situation and tendencies regarding Covid 19 suggest this more strongly than ever, especially the culmination of cremations in November, which exceeds 10 percent.

The truth about cremation, even about Covid, as well as about many other historiographical ones, points to Schopenhauer's paraphrased thought "Every new truth has three stages. The first is when he laughs, the second when he encounters opposition and the third when he has always known about it."

Slobodan Stojanović, MA,
Vice President of OGANJ

Here you can read the article written bij Slobodan Stojanović about why there should be more crematoria in Serbia.