First Congregational Church

Fremont, Michigan

   714 Hillcrest Drive, Fremont, Michigan 49412   †   231.924.4710

   Worship 10 am Sunday † Pastor Luke Schmalz

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Circle of Life Memorial Garden

Circle of Life Memorial Garden
From earliest times, Christians have included places of interment in their churches and churchyards.
What better site for a final resting place than near a church that held meaning during life? Today, churches are establishing memorial gardens akin to this historic concept. In 2004, First Congregational Church of Fremont installed and dedicated our own memorial garden for this use. It is fitting that we provide a final resting place for beloved church family, which serves as well as a place of peace and beauty where all may meditate and pray.

Interest in a memorial garden at FCC found expression about a decade ago. It was undertaken as a self-supporting project, and fundraising got underway. We selected a "circle of life" theme to accentuate the concept of life eternal for Christians, mindful that there would be no circle of life – only a straight line with a beginning and a final ending – without the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Because of His sacrifice, we do not remain in the garden, but enjoy life everlasting with Him. It seemed fitting that our modest and delightful new garden be named Circle of Life Memorial Garden

The garden was dedicated in June, 2004. While delighting in its beauty and serenity, the committee felt something was missing. A cross, we decided, would be the ideal symbol for not only death within our church family, but also the death of Jesus Christ, representing the promise of new life. The committee went back to work, establishing a special memorial fund drive to offset the costs involved, knowing that a fitting symbol would be expensive.

Local artist Cara O'Brien of Whitehall, Michigan was commissioned to develop drawings of the project, and she did produce some striking designs. Between continued fundraising and a significant donation by the family of Lois Kempf Reber as a memorial to their mother, the project finally became a reality.

As Cara set to work on the six-foot mold for our selected design, the committee doubled its fundraising efforts to have our beautiful memorial cross cast, installed, and lighted. We achieved our goal of fall, 2007 for completion of the project on the very last day of the autumn season, December 20. The heartwarming dedication service on that crisp evening appropriately included the interment of Dwight Austin, one of the original committee members, who had passed away earlier in the year. 

Since its installation, church members and the community at large have been moved by the beauty of our memorial cross, gloriously celebrating the lives of our loved ones day and night. Sometime later, church member Vicki Potter suggested a replica of the cross be commissioned in the form of a pendant, a special treasure for church members as well as any others moved by its beauty. The committee, Shirley Brooks, Mary Butterick, Pete Lindner, Chairman Georgia Paxton, and Artistic Advisor Nancy Johnson, picked up on the idea, and again, we called on Cara, whose work has brought us exquisite gold and silver replicas.