St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Eugene, Oregon

St. Thomas’ Memorial Garden and Columbarium

Tucked between the church and the Sunday School rooms is one of the jewels of St. Thomas: the Memorial Garden courtyard in which the Columbarium resides. The creation of the Memorial Garden was approved by the Vestry in 2012, and work began the following spring. Consisting of a Columbarium with 49 wall niches for urns, an Ossuary, and plantings, the Memorial Garden was completed in 2013 and dedicated in October of that year on the occasion of Bishop Michael Hanley’s annual parish visitation. The Garden came into being as the  result of considerable efforts by a number of committed parishioners. The original Memorial Garden Committee members were Bill Duhaime, Donna Hall, Bob Loomis, Lindy Moore, and Burt Schwarz, along with the Rev. Court Williams, St. Thomas’ rector at the time.

In addition to the Committee members, parishioner Jim Hall did a great deal of work, including preparing the site before construction began. Jim also designed, created, and installed the stunning wooden cross on the Garden’s western wall. Donna and Jim do the seasonal plantings and keep the shrubbery pruned and mulched and the vases watered. Burt Schwarz is the principal overseer of the Garden–cleaning up as needed and chasing the birds away! Even more importantly, he is essentially the “keeper of the keys,” as it were; whenever there is an inurnment, Burt is present to open and close the niche with  a special tool.

In their 2012 Annual Report, the Memorial Garden Committee wrote what essentially is the mission statement for the Garden:

“The Memorial Garden will be a place for meditation and private prayer. When a person agrees to have his or her ashes inurned in the churchyard, that person leaves his or her name as well, and that name lives on as a witness. Burial in church grounds makes a statement that a person was a believer, in recognition of the belief in the community of saints, living and dead, and a witness to the faith. Persons inurned in the Columbarium or placed in the Ossuary remain a part of the parish and a part of the community that the parish represents.”