Last year, the Church of the Holy Spirit in Wayland voted to close. In April 2015, the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and the diocesan Standing Committee (the elected governing body that oversees aspects of church closings and property sales) consented to the congregation's request to close and assumed responsibility for the property.
In June of 2015, the Standing Commitee approved the marketing of the property. It was sold in January of this year to a local congregation of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Diocesan leadership were pleased to effect a sale that would continue the property's use for Christian worship. A stipulation of the sales agreement was that the cremated remains interred on the church property be relocated. This stipulation is not negotiable, and diocesan personnel have been working diligently to meet this requirement along with the needs of the families involved.
The relocation process has proved to be somewhat complicated, involving many necessary consultations and the navigation of various approval processes, as well as numerous practical and pastoral considerations. Throughout, the intention has been and continues to be responsible and sensitive stewardship as the diocese seeks to honor its responsibilities and obligations to all parties involved.
Diocesan personnel are endeavoring to work with families to make arrangements for the removal and re-interment of the cremated remains of their loved ones, with care and dignity, to a location of each family's choosing, with the diocese covering all costs and making available to the families both pastoral care and appropriate liturgical provision. A specially designated area in Wayland's North Cemetery is being made available to families as one option, as are spaces in memorial gardens of nearby Episcopal churches. Some families are making arrangements for relocation of their loved ones' remains to other locations. The hope is to be able to conduct removal in such a way as to minimize disruption of the church property while also ensuring proper accountability for all cremated remains.
Although this relocation process has been unexpected and disruptive for many, Bishop Gates and those entrusted with leadership in the diocesan community are grateful for the prayerful and constructive cooperation of the many people involved in working toward the best possible resolution for all.