by Mike Knaak
First United Methodist Church announced plans for a Garden Sanctuary as part of the church’s master plan.
The congregation’s plans include a memorial garden, where cremains will be interred; a large patio with a wood-fired bread oven; outdoor worship and concert space; and a labyrinth.
The plan and fundraising efforts were announced April 29, with a goal of raising $250,000. Anonymous donors have offered to match gifts up to $80,000.
In a statement, the church said ministries envisioned by this project include activities such as outdoor worship, concerts, meals from the bread oven, receptions, weddings, and spiritual growth and renewal.
The Memorial Garden part of the project is designed for the interment of ashes providing an economical and ecologically responsible alternative to traditional burial practices, according to the church. Ashes will be interred either by burying directly into the earth in the formal-garden area, or a prairie scattering in the restored prairie grass section of the garden, according to Bill Meier, co-chair of the Memorial Garden Committee.
The capital campaign is set to conclude July 29.
First United Methodist moved from downtown St. Cloud to Sartell in 2013. The church says the garden plan is part of its ministry to the whole region and to practice good stewardship of its large property.