In the church minutes for April 1910, it is recorded “the Pastor stated that we would hold Memorial Services on the third Sunday in May.” This seems to have been the beginning of Wake Chapel’s traditional Memorial Day.
Newcomers will be interested to know that in those early years (prior to 1945) Wake Chapel did not have a full-time pastor. Sunday school was held each Sunday morning, but a Worship Service was only on the third Sunday of each month, with a preaching service on the prior Saturday afternoon.
Then on Sunday morning, everyone brought homemade arrangements, wreaths, baskets, sprays, and bunches of flowers for the graves of their friends and relatives. These were placed at the edge of the pulpit platform and around its base until the space was completely covered. Since Wake Chapel had the only cemetery in town from about 1910 until “Greenlawn” was opened, many visitors from the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches also attended and brought flowers for their relatives’ graves. In order to accommodate the crowd, in those early days seats from cars were brought in and placed at the front of the sanctuary. The children sat on these seats, and the sanctuary was filled to capacity.
Following the sermon, people picked up the flowers they had brought and proceeded to the cemetery to decorate the graves. Mr. Charlie Ballentine always brought trays of single roses, sprays of blooming shrubs, etc., to place on the graves of those who no longer had relatives in the area, so that not a grave in the cemetery was bare. It was a beautiful sight. Folks walked from grave to grave remembering those who were gone and chatting with old acquaintances. For many years, families in the community have set their family reunions to coincide with Wake Chapel’s Memorial Day.
It is also part of our tradition to honor all those whom God has been pleased to call home since last Memorial Sunday. This morning we honor the memory of James Bunker (12/26/2017), Elizabeth McKinney (02/13/18), Frances Cotten (07/14/2017), and Barbara Bailey (05/03/2018).
We thank God for their lives and continuing testimony in our church and trust that God will enable us to carry on in the tradition that these sweet people left for us.
Pastor Emeritus Ross Marion