Adopt a grave

A letter from Gisela about the 175th anniversary, and adopting a grave...

Dear friends,

2016 is the year of our 175th anniversary and we are planning a variety of special services and events. Besides our Anniversary meal at  Chancellors for members of the congregation on Jan 23,  we will celebrate our Patronal festival, The Conversion of St Paul the day after,  when our  Area Dean Rev Stephen Edwards will preach.

As part of our anniversary  year we also want to pay attention to our churchyard.  St Paul’s was built at the start of the industrial revolution when the population of Manchester grew rapidly.  A walk around the church yard will quickly show that those early years in our parish were often difficult and that child mortality was high.  The church yard  was soon full, and officially closed in the 1893, except to those who had family plots with spaces still left.

As a Christian community we are connected not only to those in our parish and church today, but also to those who went before and to  those who come after. So this is an invitation to everyone to wonder around the graveyard over the next few weeks and ‘adopt’ a grave. It might be a name that leaps out of you, or the age of the person that lies buried there that catches your attention. However or whichever grave you chose, let Elizabeth our warden know which one it is, as she is the keeper of the master list.

We would ask you if possible to write briefly why you chose this grave, or share some information you have found out about those whose names are inscribed on the gravestone. Instead or in addition, drawings, poems and photo’s would also be great.  Our intention is  to collate all these things in a special album.

We are not asking people to clean the graves, this is likely to do more damage than good. But following an old tradition in some parts of the British isles we are planning a special  celebration on the Saturday before Easter Sunday,  Holy Saturday. People will be invited that afternoon to come and prepare the graves with flowers. In the late afternoon there will be a short service in the church and afterwards we will process into the churchyard to put lights and lanterns on the graves.

Holy Saturday is the day when we remember that Jesus himself was laid in a tomb, it is a day of quiet, of waiting, but also of anticipation, of hope,  of the promise of  new life and resurrection.  . What better place to anticipate Easter and to celebrate the Light  of Christ  there and then in our churchyard?