Cornerstone United Methodist Church
Friday, March 01, 2013
To Reach, To Grow, To Send

Sacred Ground Ministry

 
 
The Sacred Ground Ministry is dedicated to the memory of the United States service men and women of both Ft. Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, who have lost their lives in the war on terrorism since  2002.  These men and women hold a special place in our heart as we have lived with them, eaten with them, our children have gone to school with their children, our wives and husbands have worked with their wives and husbands, and they have been a saignificant part of the Fayetteville, Hope Mills, Spring Lake, and Raeford communities.  We have chosen to honor them in this way, that they may always be remembered. 
 
The memorial garden, which can be seen for two weeks around Memorial Day each year, previously occupied Barbara Morris' lawn. In 2011 a member of our church approached her with the idea of transferring the memorial garden to our church grounds. After several meetings with the members of our church Barbara Morris agreed to this proposition, saying "I think more people will see it here than at my home."  So, in 2011, we dedicated a portion of our church grounds to be used for the "Sacred Ground Ministry".
 
Starting in 2012, for about two weeks around Memorial Day weekend, we have dedicated ourselves to placing hundreds of American flags and hundreds of handcrafted wooden crosses, each baring the name of a soldier or airman killed in war since 2002 (who was stationed at Fort Bragg or Pope Air Force Base), on the ground that we have dedicated to memorialize them.

It is very important to understand and acknowledge how the memorial garden came to be, and what it means to the families of those who have been lost. For without Barbara Morris's dedication, the "Sacred Ground Ministry " would not have come to be.
 
Since 2008, Barbara Morris has carefully clipped out of the paper the fallen's photo, obituary or whatever she can find about the soldier and laminated it, preserving their memory until it can join the ranks of other heroes in the garden.

She then crafts a wooden cross, paints it white and writes the name of the soldier across it.

"I was watching the news one day and they showed this little boy," Morris said. "I thought, he must have been 12. From the moment that I looked in that boy's eyes, I had to let their families know that someone else cares."

Morris said when she began the garden, she didn't think the community cared about the cost of war, but she was quickly proven wrong.

"I didn't have three rows down and there was a widow laying beside her husband's cross," Morris said.

During the next three years, hundreds of families and friends of the fallen - all strangers to Barbara Morris - visited her home, told her the story of their loved one and left tokens in Morris' yard.

Morris keeps the gifts, along the crosses, in her garage and each year lays them back out.

"For every cross out there, I know how they died because someone has been to my house to tell me the story," Morris said. "Every time I go to put these out, I get emotion. It's remembering them all over again."

Morris carried a faded black T-shirt and American flag patch to the cross inscribed with Sgt. Jason Hickman's name. The handwriting is different from all the rest because Hickman's best friend made this cross.

"He carried him out of battle on his shoulder," Morris said recalling the story. "When he laid him down, he had died."

Hickman's friend, now stationed in New York, charged Morris with looking after the shirt and patch, she said.

Wes Carter was the third or fourth person to visit Morris' first garden in 2008, now he helps Morris lay and care for the crosses each year.

"I thought it was really incredible, what she was doing," Carter said. "It's unfortunate that it has grown in number each year."

This year, about 32 new crosses were made.

"I hope that it gives people pause ... that they realize ..." says Carter, his voice cracking with emotion.

"That they realize they are still dying," Morris said finishing the thought.

 
The public can visit the memorial garden, for two weeks around Memorial Day each year, at Cornerstone United Methodist Church, 1411 Rim Road, in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
 
OUR SUNDAY SCHEDULE
8:30 AM Set Up for Service (all are welcome!)
9:30 AM
Sunday School for Adults, youth, and children
10:30 AM
Fellowship
10:30 AM
Worship Team Warm-Ups
10:50 AM
Music and Song in the Sanctuary!
11:00 AM
Worship Service
 12:30 PM
Various Programs and Community vents (see The Weekly e-Bulletin)
 
Our Location
Cornerstone Church
1411 Rim Road
Fayetteville, NC 28314
 
Phone
(910) 868-5686