Thursday, March 3, 2016

Green Burial in Medford

The movement to allow "Green Burials" at Oak Grove Cemetery is moving forward.  This is an important effort to provide this option in our city for both cultural and environmental reason.  Read more about this movement here!

Local Press on Green Burials:
Medford City Council, local clergy want plan for green burials
Medford resident requests space for natural burial at Oak Grove
GREEN BURIALS: Movement for natural burial gathers steam across U.S., Massachusetts
Members of the Medford Interfaith Clergy sent the following letter to the Trustees of Oak Grove Cemetery:

Medford Interfaith Clergy
c/o the Reverend Noah H. Evans
Grace Episcopal Church
160 High Street Medford, MA 02155

February 15, 2016

James McDevitt, Chair, Oak Grove Cemetery Board of Trustees
Stacie Clayton, Vice Chair, Oak Grove Cemetery Board of Trustees
Susan Dee, Oak Grove Cemetery Board of Trustees

Dear Members of Oak Grove Cemetery Board of Trustees:

We write to you today as the faith leaders of the City of Medford, the people who are often given the privilege and responsibility at presiding at the funeral and burials of many people in Oak Grove cemetery. Oak Grove is a beautiful cemetery and truly an important part of the spiritual and religious fabric of our City. We are aware that for a number of reason the practice of “green burial” has been brought to your attention. We are writing you today in encouragement and support of the Board of Trustees of Oak Grove Cemetery developing practices and policies which will allow this to happen at Oak Grove.

Though we understand that green burial is not the right choice for all people, we believe that the practice of green burial values the importance of care for the earth that is present in many of our individual religious traditions and would be a faithful choice for members of our community. As you know, green burial does not put toxins into the earth as embalming does; nor release toxins into the atmosphere as cremation does, rather, green burial allows for the body to decompose naturally, unlike the embalmed body placed inside a vault or liner. Therefore, green burial promotes the preservation of unpolluted land and conservation land as well. Green burial allows for the person's last wish to be a gift to the earth, because it does not pollute the land or atmosphere. We believe that green burial is a respectful way to handle the dead.

We understand that this is a traditional practice for burial, though it is only recently being reclaimed in the United States. We hope that your deliberations about the best ways to accommodate green burial at Oak Grove can move forward swiftly and in a timely fashion.

Please know that we are all available to continue to support your efforts.

Thank you.

Rev. Tess Baumberger, Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford
Rev. Brenda Bennett, Community Baptist Church, Medford
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade, Sanctuary UCC, Medford
Rev. Tony Jarek-Glidden, Community Methodist Church, Medford
Rev. Gerald Bell, Shiloh Baptist Church, Medford
Rev. Matthew Rasure, Frist Baptist Church, Medford
Rev. Noah H. Evans, Grace Episcopal Church, Medford

Cc: Stephen Brogan, Superintendent, Oak Grove Cemetery
Stephanie M. Burke, Mayor of Medford
Mark Rumley, Medford City Solicitor
Medford City Council