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Purpose and Policies

In 1995 First Presbyterian Church first considered the possibility of a Memorial Garden on the church property. Because of a pending major renovation project (Horizons21) this notion was deferred.

In March 2003 relatives of the late Kathrine McIndoe Mattice and Reverend Doctor Gordon Mattice and their daughter Joan, expressed interest in seeing the church develop a memorial garden as a place for cremain burial.

April 2003 the Session and Trustees formed a special committee to pursue development of such a garden. A subsequent poll of members showed significant interest.

The First Presbyterian Church Memorial Garden was created summer 2004.

The Memorial Garden is a place set apart where cremated ashes are placed. As noted below, there are two phases to the First Presbyterian garden, one of which is in effect now. That phase allows ashes to be scattered in the soil, becoming part of a living garden.

CREMATION - There is nothing in the bible or our theology that prohibits cremation.  Genesis 3:19 says "by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken: you are dust, and to dust you shall return".  Cremation is simply a speeding up of that natural process that returns our earthly bodies to the soil. This is consistent with our belief in the resurrection and eternal life. The New Testament teaches we, when finished with these earthly bodies, will be given a new resurrection body fit for the heavenly kingdom.

For cremation one does need the services of a funeral director to arrange with a local crematorium. However, embalming is not required if the cremation is done within 48 hours of the death. A casket is not necessary either.

The Garden at First Presbyterian provides an appropriate place for cremains.
The Garden provides a quiet place for meditation or just to enjoy the lovely plantings.
The Garden benches provide a place where a small discussion group might meet.
The Garden provides a place where a simple committal might be had either before or after a memorial service in the sanctuary.

PHASE ONE - provide for scattering of cremated ashes, turning them into the soil. No particular spot will be designated or reserved for any individual.

A limited number of bushes and plantings are available for memorials.  The kinds of plantings have already been selected as part of the master plan. No individual plantings will be designated, but the memorial will be noted in a Memorial Book on display in the Sanctuary. The cost for the planting and its perpetual care varies according to the particular plant. The Memorial and Gift Committee can provide information on what is available. The plantings are designed to enhance the garden setting and complement the beauty of our building.  No flowers, plants, decorations or other items may be placed in the garden without prior approval of the Memorial and Gift Committee.

PHASE TWO - The master plan does allow for, at some future time, the possibility of niches where urns containing cremains might be placed. This policy will be further defined at that time.

PERSONS ELIGIBLE - The Garden is church property and is a non-commercial venture. It is not a cemetery.

Those eligible: members and former members, their spouses, children, parents, stepchildren, stepparents

Ordained ministers who have served the church or had a relationship to the church, their spouses, children, parents, stepchildren, stepparents

And with approval of the Session, friends of the church, their spouses, children, parents, stepchildren, stepparents

MARKERS - There will be a plaque upon which bronze name plates are attached, noting persons whose cremains are in the garden. There shall be a uniformity of inscription and text. The maximum inscription shall consist of:
   (top line) first, middle and last name of deceased
   (bottom line) year of birth - year of death 
    
To ensure correctness of inscription, an inscription form will be provided and shall be typed and signed by the person or persons entitled to do so. The church will then handle the preparation of the bronze name plate.

ARRANGEMENTS  - Application shall be through the church office or the minister. Acceptance of the policies of the garden are indicated by signing the application. Prepayment is required.

The fees shall be reviewed and set annually in December by the Session and Trustees. The current fee is $ 450. Once payment is made there is no obligation for any further payment. Fees will be invested in a perpetual care fund.

The fee covers: 
   1. scattering of ashes 
   2. Bronze name plate on plaque
   3. recording in memorial book
   4. maintenance and perpetual care of the garden
 (Does not cover the usual costs or honorariums for a funeral/memorial service)

Arrangements, when possible, should be made in advance of need so that decisions can be calm and devoid of a sense of emergency. If time is a factor and decision is needed, the Memorial and Gift Committee may poll the Session for approval.

If at some future time an individual or family member decides not to use the garden, a request for refund with reasons stated, should be forwarded to the Memorial and Gift Committee. The entire amount may be returned.

Each applicant understands that ashes will be scattered directly into the soil, in the presence of a minister, and will not be recoverable or preserved intact. No applicant or other person may acquire any right to the physical location or appearance of the memorial garden. It is understood that the garden may have a variety of uses, as noted above.

OVERSIGHT - The oversight of the Memorial Garden shall be by the Memorial and Gift Committee which is responsible to the Session and Trustees. The Memorial and Gift Committee shall ensure the garden is maintained. The maintenance shall be funded from the designated Memorial Garden Fund.

The church office will maintain records of each person with whom arrangements have been made.

POLICY - these policies have been adopted by the Session and Trustees of the church and can be changed only by subsequent action of that body. The Session and Trustees will decide any matters not covered by these policies.


Adopted by Session and Trustees
05/19/04

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First Presbyterian Church of Corning NY