Hallowed land

Today, we laid to rest the cremated remains of much-loved church member and churchwarden Tom Quantrill. Tom died a year ago and in burying his ashes immediately after the main Sunday service, there was a special sense of completeness. It's 126 years since the churchyard at St Mary's was closed for burials. The monuments that once crowded the burial space were moved to the edge and the grounds landscaped as beautiful gardens. Today, they are used by hundreds of people every day. It's not just precious green space. It's land hallowed for God and his people. And it's always been that way.

About a thousand years ago, a group of local people set up a place of worship here. We don't know who they were, or even what kind of church they built. But they did lots of the same things that we do today at St Mary's. They prayed and worshipped God, they shaped their lives around the teachings of the Bible and they looked after each other in times of sadness and sorrow.

We may not have any trace of their building or know their names, but the ground that they chose to hallow for God is the ground on which we worship today.

So it was right for us to begin the lengthy process of obtaining the legal permissions for burials of cremated remains. Under a new policy not only church members, but residents of the parish, will be able to be have their ashes buried here, without mark or monument, save for a Book of Remembrance and the records that we keep.