Meeting set for cemetery work

Published 10:42 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Macedonia Baptist Church cemetery has suffered severe erosion, which has left several graves and vaults exposed.

The Macedonia Baptist Church cemetery has suffered severe erosion, which has left several graves and vaults exposed.

Officials at a church in Hobson hope they’ll learn this week how to move forward with fixing an erosion problem that has left some graves and vaults in the church cemetery exposed.

In the last several months, the Macedonia Baptist Church cemetery landscape has changed drastically. Due to poor drainage, the ravine that ran along the outskirts of the cemetery — which is now shored up — has severely eroded the site. Several graves are sinking, which is leaving burial vaults exposed.

“We need someone to get this solved,” said Gladys Mills, a church member.

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A meeting Thursday among church officials, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a city councilman could help them determine their next steps.

The Rev. Stanley Eley, pastor of the church, said the congregation is worried about the erosion, because it is disturbing the graves of loved ones and former members of the church.

However, the first hurdle the church had to cross was finding the money it will take to make whatever improvements are determined to be necessary. That would be a challenge for the small church on Crittenden Road, according to the pastor.

“My congregation is mainly elderly folks on fixed incomes,” Eley said.

Earlier this year, though, Blair Brothers Inc. volunteered to help the church restore the cemetery.

“We had seen stories run on Channel 3 and in the Suffolk News-Herald, and we made contact with the church,” said Aaron Ketchum, executive vice president of the company.

The company agreed to cover all costs required for the restoration. The project is expected to cost upwards of $17,000.

“We know the severity of the situation and the importance of visiting of loved ones,” Ketchum said.

The church has also raised funds through, a crowd-source funding site. As of February, friends, former members and families of the church have given more than $11,000 in donations. That money will be used to help pay for any extra costs involved beyond what Blair Brothers has agreed to cover.

Blair Brothers has sought help from the archeology department at William and Mary and the James River Institute for Archaeology help assess the situation.

Meanwhile, the problems at the cemetery have grown worse, so the church has contacted the Corps of Engineers and the city for their input.

In an attempt to catalyze the process, church members reached out to city councilman Mike Duman and the Norfolk branch of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

According to Mills, the Corps had submitted proposals to the city to begin work on restoration.

But the city is hesitant to take on the project because the cemetery is on private property, according to Duman.

Duman and other city representatives plan to join Janek and church members to assess the site on Thursday.

Despite, the various entities involved in the project, Mills is optimistic.

“There are a lot of coals in the fire, and it’s good to see some of them are burning,” she said.