Members give service, work to clean up local cemetery

Trees and shrubs covered a small cemetery in the community of Nightown here, which after 40 years without maintenance, was unrecognizable.

Graves lay unmarked, unidentified, on the one-acre lot.Then on a hot, muggy summer day recently more than 80 members of the Kannapolis Ward, Charlotte North Carolina Central Stake, worked together to clean up and reclaim the site.

The project was the ward's annual service project.

Bishop Jay Sistrunk said members of his ward decided a year ago, after participating in the Church-wide day of service in celebration of the pioneer sesquicentennial, that they wanted to participate in a yearly project. The sesquicentennial day of service "brought to focus to the membership of the ward the importance of doing meaningful projects in the community," said Bishop Sistrunk.

For years, the poor people of the community who died received free burial at the cemetery. In unmarked graves, their names had never been recorded and over time, shrubs had consumed the site.

During the service project, Church members picked up trash and cleared away overgrown brush and trees. Some members cut back branches and collected bags of leaves, or worked on a flower bed at the cemetery's edge.

Others worked to prepare the lot before the project. Still more are continuing to volunteer at the site.

Joyce Loggans, director of the ward's Family History Center, is now working with older members of the community surrounding the cemetery and the Church across the street to identify as many as 40 graves.

Ward members also hope to complete a sign for the cemetery's entrance by the end of August.

In all, they have completed more than 375 service hours at the burial site.

"We tried to find a project that could involve a vast majority of the ward membership, from the Primary on up," said Bishop Sistrunk. "You can sure see the wisdom in having projects like these: it really pulls the ward together."

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