By LOIS KINDLE
Officials from the Florida Church of God hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 15 to celebrate the grand opening of South Shore’s newest cemetery.
Lake Wimauma Memorial Gardens began six years ago as the dream of a group of congregants and ministers who wanted to build something for pastors, missionaries and area residents, said Bishop H. W. Dusty Wilson, state ministries director and liaison to the cemetery board.
“Our intent was for us to give back to the community,” he said.
Lake Wimauma Memorial Gardens is set on five and one-half acres of the Wimauma Convention Center grounds on North Street between Ninth and 12th streets. The cemetery will allow for about 2,300 plots, Wilson said.
“This is something much needed in the South Shore area, said Mike Langjahr, Sun City Center Funeral Home director and a consultant for the Lake Wimauma Memorial Gardens project. “Our population is growing rapidly, so it’s a welcome addition and service to our community.”
In January, the church got a construction loan and officials broke ground in February or March, Wilson said.
Due to contractor and weather delays, much remains to be done, Wilson said.
“We’re in the process of laying sod and getting the permitting for a fence to go completely around the cemetery,” he continued. “We will offer traditional casket burial, cremation spaces and niches. We’ll eventually have a mausoleum.”
Wilson noted a section of the cemetery will be set aside for Church of God pastors and missionaries and retired church members who live on the Wimauma Convention Center property.
The memorial gardens will include $40,000 in landscaping, trees and a paved prayer walk where families can pray and visit their loved ones.
“It will be a beautiful place of serenity and dignity,” he said.
The cemetery board is working with Veterans Funeral Care in St. Petersburg to encourage military veterans to choose Lake Wimauma Memorial Gardens as their final resting place.
The cemetery is being developed in three phases. Phase one includes the sodding, columbarium (storage place for cremated remains), gravesite plots, apron and fence (not yet installed). Phase two, a pavilion (pad already placed) and bathrooms. And phase three, two more columbariums, a mausoleum and the addition of two and one-half acres, bringing the total for the cemetery to seven and one-half acres.
Money paid for gravesites, vault spaces, bronze markers and more will go toward loan payment, property maintenance and expenses related to development.
The completion date for the entire project is 2022 or 2023.
Lake Wimauma Memorial Gardens, a ministry of the Church of God, is at 5408 S.R. 674, Wimauma.
For more information on the cemetery, email email@example.com or call 813-634-7537.
The Church of God is an international, Bible based, Pentecostal, Protestant organization, based in Cleveland, Tenn. with more than 4,500 congregations in 185 nations around the world.
For information, visit www.flcog.cc.