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Faith communities will partner to 'Save a Cemetery'

[File art: Pexels]
[File art: Pexels]

Faith groups will gather on Saturday for a unique project designed to aid genealogists and historians searching for information and clues into the past.

The Oklahoma City Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is spearheading the "Save A Cemetery" project in partnership with other Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints groups across -the state, the Interfaith Alliance and other individual congregations.

Peter Adams, public affairs director for the Oklahoma City Latter-day Saints, said many volunteers from different faith organizations will meet from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Trice Hill Cemetery, 5101 N Coltrane Road, to digitize sections of the burial ground for the BillionGraves mobile application. BillionGraves describes itself as the largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data to make such data easily accessible to people around the world.He said the goal of the project is as simple as its mission statement: "Find a grave, take a picture, record a life.

He said volunteers will take pictures of headstones and transcribe the information on the markers. Both the pictures of the headstones and the transcribed information will be downloaded on the app.

Adams said Trice Hill will be the main focus for the metro project but faith groups in other areas of the community and state will participate by turning their attention to cemeteries in Lawton and Norman.

A similar project was conducted over the summer by Grant Lyon, a member of a Scouts BSA Troop 0314 affiliated with the Oklahoma City Latter-day Saints. Lyon coordinated the event for his Eagle Scout project.

As part of Lyon's efforts, volunteers collected information from about 1,000 headstones in the west portion of the cemetery. Adams said he hopes to see volunteers fan out over the rest of the cemetery on Saturday to obtain more information to be downloaded to the BillionGraves app.

Janie Kirt Morris with the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma said the organization is excited to be part of the cemetery project and to partner with the Latter-day Saints. She said Save A Cemetery fits the mission of the Interfaith Alliance's Many Beliefs Serving Together committee, which she chairs.

"What we want to do is serve our community, foster relationships between people of different belief systems and this is one way we can do this," she said.

Morris said the project's emphasis will help numerous people for years to come.

"It's a service to those who have family members who are buried there," she said. "Some people will want to find their roots and now it will be publicly accessed."

Meanwhile, Adams said the faith groups would love to see more volunteers from area churches and throughout the community become part of the project on Saturday.

He said volunteers simply need to go to the Trice Hill project meet-up location on Saturday morning.

HOW TO HELP

For more information or to volunteer for the "Save A Cemetery" project, call Peter Adams at 425-614-6366 or email Sarah Bushman at sarah.bushman@LDSpublicaffairs.org.

Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›

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