A cemetery service project brings people together to give back to community

Pastor Richards III shares some history of New Hope's cemetery and the meaning of the cleanup event to the 35 volunteers.

Credit: Contributed.

Credit: Contributed.

Fourteen years ago, the Buckhead Heritage Society was formed by residents with a collective vision to protect and preserve its historical resources. Cemetery landscapes are among their sights.

“The first cemetery I was involved in was Mount Olive, adjacent to Frankie Allen Park, partnering with the Atlanta International School in cleaning up, restoring and preserving the historic space,” said board member and committee chair Ivan Allen.

Buckhead Heritage had received a sizeable grant funded by the Massey Charitable Trust to have an archaeologist come in to inventory and map gravesites inside New Hope’s AME church’s cemetery site. Archaeologist Matt Matternes identified 334 potential gravesites, he stated.

Allen had driven past the church on Arden Road numerous times - curious about the church, cemetery and its history. The work of Matternes impassioned the engagement between the Heritage Society and New Hope to set about the event.

“We pride ourselves on being a culturally diverse organization,” said the committee chair.

“This service project was an opportunity to bring people together to give back to our community. We believe there is a pent-up desire within the community to engage in some meaningful way to address the injustices we are hearing about,” Allen said.

Thirty-five volunteers gathered on a recent Saturday morning to clean up and restore the overgrown cemetery.

The Rev. David F. Richards III of New Hope shared some history and the meaning of the cleanup, said the board member.

“The pastor told us that the cemetery’s oldest grave is believed to be from 1860, which supports the oral tradition that slaves’ graves are buried there, and at one time a small schoolhouse for first through seventh graders was on the property,” he said.

“Volunteers worked with new friends together outside. We left knowing there is plenty left to do and look forward to coming back,” Allen wrote in an email to the AJC.

Buckhead Heritage thanks Pastor Richards III, Ashley Shares, Peachtree Road UMC and Chris Hastings with Arbormedics for their acts of service.

Visit, www.BuckheadHeritage.com or www.NewHopeAMEChurch.org

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