By LOIS KINDLE
Calvary Church will celebrate the grand opening of the Oasis Columbarium & Prayer Sanctuary at 10 a.m. Nov. 12.
The public is invited to view this peaceful and reverential space, where the cremains of loved ones can be interred, and those left behind can go to reflect, remember, meditate and pray.
Built at a cost of $300,000, the Oasis at Calvary currently includes a columbarium of two completed towers, offering 448 niches and the potential for five more towers and a total of 1,568 niches; a Memorial Wall at the end of each tower to honor deceased loved ones with special granite plaques; and a prayer sanctuary, featuring a labyrinth-style walking path, on which visitors may pray or meditate. It also includes a straight view east of a spring-fed pond and fountain.
“Walking this path from the entrance to the center and back out again is a symbol of a spiritual journey,” said Calvary Lutheran’s Tesa Myatt, who promotes and manages the day-to-day operation of the site. “Use of the columbarium is open to the entire community.”
Oasis visitors are greeted by a gateway of two columns, one that reads “Oasis at Calvary” and the other the Bible verse, Luke 23:43, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
The grand opening event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and light refreshments. The church’s recently retired pastor, The Rev. Jack Palzer, will return as guest speaker to provide a brief history of the Oasis and its meaning to the entire community.
“We built this for two reasons,” Palzer said. “It’s good stewardship of the land God has given us. We celebrate birth, death and eternal life. The Oasis brings [these] all together.
“It’s also an entrepreneurial means for the church to support itself and fund its various ministries,” he continued. “It’s long-lasting value in faith and life is revealed physically, emotionally and, mostly, spiritually.”
The project is a long-held dream of the congregation, which began 18 years ago when Palzer envisioned it. The idea for the Oasis was taken up by Kevin Kleinschmidt, who ultimately planned and supervised its construction, with a committee of volunteers.
The entire site has painstaking details, like the placement of its columbarium niches, which are completely within arm’s reach so folks can touch them. Its massive labyrinth includes 9,000 square feet of stone pavers.
“I’m relieved,” said Kleinschmidt about completing the Oasis. “It was a long process, but as we know, everything’s done in God’s time. It’s been a true labor of love.”
Anyone attending the event who is interested in learning more about the Oasis will find literature and pricing information inside the foyer area of the church.
If you can’t make the grand opening, you can email email@example.com or visit the Calvary Lutheran Church website at www.calvaryalive.org/. There you’ll find a one-minute video on the Oasis, which is “dedicated to the respectful care of the people of God, who even in death remain a part of our community and our spiritual heritage.”
Calvary Lutheran Church and the Oasis at Calvary Columbarium & Sanctuary are at 1250 E. College Ave., Ruskin.