Lay Me in God's Good Earth: A Christian Approach to Death and Burial, By Kent Burreson and Beth Hoeltke
Lay Me in God's Good Earth
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: August 20, 2024
  • Item Code: A0760
  • ISBN: 978-1-5140-0760-0

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A Christian case for natural burial

The promises of the Christian gospel are never more precious or more beautiful than in the context of death and burial. And yet current burial practices in Western society are archaic and impersonal. They fail to confront us with the reality of death, and they make it harder to process death or to grieve properly.

Kent Burreson and Beth Hoeltke have been teaching a Christian understanding of death and natural burial for many years. They argue that natural burial—laying the body into the earth in a way that allows it to decompose naturally—is not only better for the environment but is also a more accurate picture of Christian hope of the resurrection. Grounded in sound Christian teaching about death and burial, they advocate for natural burial and offer practical instructions for navigating the complex questions around burial practices.

Lay Me in God’s Good Earth is not only an immensely practical guide to natural burial; it is also an application of the hope of the resurrection to those grieving the loss of their loved ones.

"In this well-researched and compellingly written book, Kent Burreson and Beth Hoeltke thoughtfully address important, and sometimes difficult, end-of-life questions. They guide the reader well through the many options for caring faithfully for the bodies of the dead, and they make a compelling case for natural burial. A very provocative book!"

Thomas G. Long, author of Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral

"Lay Me in God's Good Earth is a much-needed guide to equip the church to teach the theology and art of dying. Sound, pastoral, sensitive, and practical, this book empowers honest conversation about our common journey of death and God's intention to raise us and all creation. Burreson and Hoeltke advocate thoroughly and convincingly for natural burial as a witness to and participation in God's purpose of restoring us and all creation. Rich in biblical words and images, this decidedly Christian book inspires meaningful conversation in home and church. Its practical wisdom also supports and guides any who must respond to the death of a loved one or prepare a loved one for their own death."

Craig Alan Satterlee, teacher of preaching and worship and bishop of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod ELCA

"This is a delightful, insightful, and timely book that can and should be used in a variety of settings (parish and other classes in planning Christian burial, counseling with the bereaved, and by pastors). Firmly rooted in the creedal affirmation of 'the resurrection of the body and life everlasting,' this readable study examines traditional (including cremation) and newer more ecologically sensitive manners of burial in affirming and nonjudgmental ways. I highly recommend this book."

Maxwell E. Johnson, emeritus professor of liturgy, University of Notre Dame


1. In Christ the Dead Will Rise
2. In the Ground: Burying the Body Naturally
3. Remembering the Dead in Hope
4. Knowing the Way Home: The Story of This Earthly Journey to Resurrection
5. Caring for the Body of Our Dead
6. Dying with Hope
7. The Particularities of Death

Appendix 1: Our Final Journey: A Burial Planning Guide
Appendix 2: Cost Comparisons
Appendix 3: Resources for Caring for the Body at Home
Appendix 4: Resources for Burying Naturally
Appendix 5: State Funeral Boards and Licensing Agencies
Appendix 6: Resources for Further Reading


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Kent Burreson

Kent J. Burreson (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Together with Beth Hoeltke, he is the author of Death, Heaven, Resurrection, and the New Creation.

Beth Hoeltke

Beth Hoeltke (PhD, Concordia Seminary) is the retired director of the graduate school at Concordia Seminary and an adjunct instructor at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri. Together with Kent Burreson, she is the author of Death, Heaven, Resurrection, and the New Creation.