by Rev. Bill Gupton
I have some exciting news to share. Most of you know that seven years ago, in November of 2016, the HUUC Board of Trustees voted to create a separate non-profit business called Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary LLC. Since that time, while also serving as your Senior Minister, I have been involved in directing Heritage Acres and acting as its President.
Thanks to more than two dozen members of the Heritage Acres Founders Circle, and some incredible fundraising generosity, the first step of acquiring land – which turned out to be a beautiful 40-acre property just outside I-275 in Pierce Township – was accomplished within three years of incorporation. Then, in April 2020, just as the world was shutting down at the start of the pandemic, Heritage Acres opened to the public. Since that time, 71 persons have been laid to rest in its gently rolling hills. Nearly 90 percent of those folks had absolutely no connection to Heritage Church. We are truly serving the community with this ministry.
Indeed, Cincinnati and the Tri-State have enthusiastically embraced what is still the only completely natural burial ground within a 150-mile radius of downtown Cincinnati. In fact, Heritage Acres has become so successful that its Board has offered me an official, part-time, salaried position; beginning in January, I will become Heritage Acres’ Cemetery Manager.
While this is indeed good news – and reflective of just how well Heritage Acres is doing – it may raise some questions in your mind. Let me assure you that this will not affect my ministry at Heritage Church in any way. In fact, the new position of Cemetery Manager is simply a formalization of the work I have already been doing, without compensation, for Heritage Acres over the last several years. I expect to continue to serve both the congregation, and Heritage Acres, in the same way that I have been. But I must say, it is very rewarding to know that we have created – all of us, together – one of the brightest success stories in the “green burial” movement.
When Heritage Acres hired a consultant some years ago to help get the ball rolling, he told the Board that – given our prime location in a major metropolitan area – we could expect demand to build quickly, as people became aware of the option of natural burial. He indicated that he anticipated Heritage Acres would be a huge success. And you know what? He was right!
So it is with both pride and gratitude that I can now tell you that, starting in 2024, I will be not only your Senior Minister, but also Heritage Acres’ part-time Cemetery Manager. Who would have ever imagined (besides the aforementioned consultant)?
As we enter the winter holiday season, my wish for you, and all your loved ones, is joy and light. Happy Holidays! I hope to see you at church on Christmas Eve, and throughout the season.