The trustees and history committee of Epworth United Methodist Church, in Palmyra, NJ, recognize the importance of their cemetery to not only the history of the church, but also the community. Stories of its residents include a man who served in the supply train under General Custer at the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn, veterans of the Civil War and supsequent wars, a section of land used for the burial of African Americans at a time when a multi-racial cemetery was nearly unheard of, and a young African American girl who was loved enough to have not only a headstone, but a footstone. Unfortunately this cemetery has been the victim of time, damage, and lack of funding.
There is good news for Epworth’s cemetery. The church has made a commitment to its repair and is hosting a workshop by Jonathan Appell, nationally known gravestone conservator and founder of New England Cemetery Services, on October 9 and 10. This workshop is the only one to be held in the northeastern part of the U.S. in the remainder of 2010 and is open to all interested parties. Mr. Appell will educate all who attend the workshop on conservation and preservation of gravestones. His hands on approach will allow the church, and all attendees, to care for the deteriorating cemetery and bring it back to a condition that is worthy of its history and its residents. Mr. Appell provides written materials and encourages photographing, recording, and videotaping of the workshop which will allow the church to continue its work with confidence.
In conjunction with the church’s commitment and invitation to Mr. Appell, a young man has decided to make the repair and care of the cemetery his project in reaching for the coveted Eagle Scout designation. While work needed on the entire cemetery is more than he projects to do, the effort provided by him and other scouts, supplemented by members of the church, will be significant. Renewal of the cemetery will bring joy to the church and the families who have loved ones in the cemetery, including the young man himself.
Please join Epworth UMC for Mr. Appel’s workshop on October 9 and 10. For more information on Mr. Appell go to www.gravestonepreservation.info and www.gravestoneconservation.com. For more information and to register for the workshop contact Joy Malessa at firstname.lastname@example.org or Epworth United Methodist Church at 856-829-1908. The church’s website is www.palmyranjumc.org