The future of a Lower Saucon Township cemetery in which local citizens have been buried ever since the Civil War era will be decided at an upcoming meeting.
The Lower Saucon Church Cemetery Association has scheduled a meeting about the cemetery and whether it should close or remain open for Saturday, March 30 at 10 a.m.
The meeting will be held in the Fellowship Hall of the former Christ Lutheran Church of Lower Saucon, 2190 Easton Road, Bethlehem, which is located next to the cemetery.
Christ Lutheran Church of Lower Saucon merged with New Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church on Apples Church Road in the township several years ago, and the building is now occupied by Saucon Community Bible Fellowship Church.
Treasurer Tina McCardle explained that the current congregation is unaffiliated with the cemetery, as was the former congregation.
“It’s ecumenical. It’s for anyone who wants to be buried there,” she said, noting that the Lower Saucon Church Cemetery opened around the time the Civil War ended, and that numerous veterans from that war and subsequent conflicts are interred there.
The Lower Saucon Church Cemetery was a “new” cemetery that opened when an older graveyard across the street became full, and ultimately closed around 1880, she said.
McCardle has been on the cemetery association board for the past 18 years.
Everything was running smoothly until several years ago, when the board’s president died unexpectedly in his 50s. After that, “the board basically kind of fell apart,” she said.
As a result, McCardle said she alone has been shouldering the various responsibilities involved with keeping the cemetery open, including coordinating burials there with local funeral directors.
Although there are no longer many burials taking place in the cemetery, there have been two so far this year and there are plots available for purchase, she added.
That will all change if there is no one willing to lend her a hand, however.
“I need some people to step up and be on the board,” McCardle said. “If nobody steps up–close it. I can’t do it forever by myself.”
McCardle said the board should have eight members, including four officers: president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.
Assuming that interested parties attend the meeting and volunteer to be on the board, McCardle said she will continue on as treasurer.
The nonprofit cemetery is licensed by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has been well-maintained by its volunteer caretakers over many years, McCardle observed.
The time commitment required of someone who serves on the association board is minimal.
In addition to an annual meeting, the board participates in spring and fall clean-ups at the cemetery.
McCardle said she has mailed letters about the reorganization meeting to about 35 families who have relatives buried in the cemetery, for whom she had contact information.
She added that current residents of Hellertown with names common to the area–names such as Werkheiser and Boehm–likely have ancestors at rest in the burial ground.
Additional information will be shared and questions will be answered at the meeting, which anyone interested in volunteering to serve on the board is invited to attend.