By Justin Soto
Church and funeral home leaders in Kingsport want to help people who cannot afford to bury their loved ones, they’re planning a church community cemetery for the homeless as well as working families who cannot afford funeral expenses.
Shades of Grace United Methodist Church in Kingsport, a church dedicated to helping Kingsport’s homeless and underprivileged, is part of those plans.
Pastor Will Shewey said the church has paid for around six community member’s cremation services, estimating $1,200 each. Many of the remains have sat in urns in a cabinet in the church while waiting for a proper place to place the remains.
Some remains have been laid to rest at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Blountville but this won’t be enough. Pastor Shewey said there is still space for a dozen more remains but they need another solution.
Weston Leonard owns Trinity Memorial Centers Funeral Home. His business is working with area churches to start a community cemetery for the homeless and for families who cannot afford to bury their loved ones.
“Almost half or more of the cost of a funeral is the cemetery side. There needs to be something on a larger scale that can be maintained for hundreds of years,” Leonard said.
The hope is that someone will donate land for the cemetery, churches will handle the upkeep. Money from families that can afford a plot of land will help offset those who can’t.
Sherry Harris has been homeless for three years and frequent Shades of Grace, “it’s a matter that comes right to the heart, right to the heart. Let’s not kill families with not helping them,” Harris said.
Church leaders are hoping for place of dignity for those who Pastor Shewey said are in the shadows.
“It would just be a source of comfort to all of us to know that in their final resting place there’s a place where they’re not forgotten,” Pastor Shewey said.
A community meeting about the plan is scheduled for April 28th at 10 a.m. at Trinity Memorial Community Center.