TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL) – Nearly 600 people are homeless in the Tri-Cities region. When those who are homeless and without families pass away, local funeral homes say their remains often go unclaimed.
News Channel 11 found out two local churches are coming together honor members of the community who have passed away, without loved ones to claim their remains.
Shades of Grace United Methodist Church and Immanuel Lutheran Church will dedicate part of Immanuel Lutheran’s Cemetery to bury the remains of those who died homeless or alone.
The pastor’s of both churches told News Channel 11, they hope this gesture will give them the dignity in death that many did not experience while they were alive.
“(We) started doing services for some of our own members and so far we have done about 27 services,” said Shades of Grace Pastor Will Shewey.
Shewey said for the last two years, local funeral homes from around the Tri-Cities have asked him to pick up urns.
“They were someone’s mother, someone’s father or child, or someone’s brother or sister. It’s just really sad that at this point in their life, when life ended, there was no one to come forward for them,” said Pastor Shewey.
Shades of Grace is now partnering with Immanuel Lutheran Church to provide a designated burial space for the unclaimed cremains.
“We’re all in it together, we’re all the body of Christ. We have this place that’s been set apart in our cemetery,” said Pastor Mary Louise Sitton.
The churches will hold a dedication ceremony for the space on Saturday October 15th.
Shewey said those who wish to participate can meet at Shades of Grace Church at 10:30 am and participants will then drive to Immanuel Lutheran’s cemetery, located across the street from Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Shewey said the ceremony is open to the public, and participants are asked to be at the cemetery by 11:00 am.
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