It was a cold, drizzly day in October.
The funeral director, the senior pastor and I all squeezed into the front seat of the hearse. Conversation was subdued as we drove to the cemetery. The casket in the back of the hearse contained the body of the woman to be interred.
It was my first year in seminary. I was shadowing the pastor to learn about the various responsibilities of being a pastor. This was my first time riding in a hearse and being part of a graveside funeral.
When we arrived at the cemetery, I looked for the people who would have gathered to mourn this woman’s death and give honor to her memory. The only other people in the cemetery that morning were the two men who had dug the grave.
I asked the senior pastor where everyone was. He grimly said, “We’ll be the only ones here.” I was shocked and greatly saddened. No one? No one would be there to remember her, give honor to her life, be saddened by her death?
We solemnly read appropriate Scriptures and offered prayers. The casket was lowered into the grave. And we then left the cemetery.
This made an indelible mark in my memory: a child of God, gone from this earth without anyone to remember.
There is an opportunity available to everyone to keep this kind of scenario from happening again. County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel has coordinated with local pastors of numerous traditions to gather once again at the Lazarus Field in Beal Memorial Cemetery to inter those who died this past year without family or friends to take care of their final resting place.
At 10 a.m. Nov. 2, there will be a memorial service for more than 50 persons whose cremains will be interred at the cemetery, 316 Beal Pkwy. NW, Fort Walton Beach.
Their lives will be celebrated, their memories honored, and will not be forgotten. Their names will be read and then entered into a Book of Life kept at the cemetery office.
You are invited to attend this memorial service. I lovingly encourage you to attend to help us remember these children of God and commend them to his loving care.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.