On Saturday, about 45 members of the Brainerd ward (congregation) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered to clean a local cemetery, providing over 100 hours of community service for Ooltewah.
They raked leaves, picked up fallen tree limbs and cut back overgrown brush as part of the JustServe effort, which encourages everyone, everywhere to volunteer service where you live. Anyone can serve. “Look for something in your area that interests you,” as stated on the JustServe.org site – a gift from the LDS Church to communities across the nation. “JustServe provides opportunities to relieve suffering, care for the poor and needy, and enhance the quality of life in the community.” The site links organizations with volunteers, and is nondenominational. To learn more about JustServe.org, click on this link at https://www.justserve.org.
The Brainerd ward chose to clean up the Ooltwah cemetery out of love and appreciation for those who have completed their journey in this life. The LDS Church has a long history of supporting families, and genealogy – the search for one’s ancestors. This is because Latter-day Saints “believe families can be together after this life” (mormonnewsroom.org).
According to mormonnewsroom.org, “Since 1894, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has dedicated time and resources to collecting and sharing records of genealogical importance. Due to cooperation from government archives, churches, and libraries, the Church has created the largest collection of family records in the world, with information on more than 3 billion deceased people. This effort was originally facilitated through the Genealogical Society of Utah and now through FamilySearch, a non-profit organization sponsored by the Church.”
“FamilySearch provides access to information from 100 countries, including birth, marriage, and death records, censuses, probates and wills, land records, and more. These records are made available to the public free of charge through https://www.familysearch.org website, the world-renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and through a network of 4,600 local family history centers in 126 countries” (mormonewsroom.org).
Local Latter-day Saints share in this work because they believe, as all Latter-day Saints do, that “it is essential to strengthen relationships with all family members, both those who are alive and those who have died” (mormonnewsroom). Like most denominations, Latter-day Saints believe life extends beyond mortality.
Because the spirits of our loved ones are waiting on the other side, it is no small matter to care for cemeteries. Cemeteries are sacred places where the body is buried. One day, the body and spirit will reunite because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, who overcame death that all may live again – and who overcame sin that we might live in happiness and holiness, if we choose to keep His commandments and follow Him (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).