Dr. Arthur King has stepped down as Chair of the Anglican Cemetery Committee of St. John’s and Mount Pearl. This Committee is responsible for the continuous operation, care for, and maintenance of the Forest Road and Kenmount Road cemeteries, with the primary objective of providing dignified interment settings. Art joined as a committee member in January 1999, was Vice-Chair between May 2000 – Nov. 2008, and was Committee Chair from December 2008 – May 2022. On April 7th, 2019, Art was presented with the Bishop’s Award of Merit by the Right Rev’d Dr. Geoffrey Peddle, in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.
At the Annual General Meeting of the committee on May 17th, 2022, Bishop Samuel Rose thanked Art for his 23 years of service on the committee, and for his ministry of care and concern for our cemeteries, and his compassion toward those in their time of grief. “Our diocese is grateful to you for all that you have done for others.” He presented Art with a framed painting of the Bonavista Lighthouse. Art thanked the bishop for his kind words noting that it has been a challenging but most uplifting spiritual experience. After a Cemetery Committee meeting in June, St. Mark’s ladies hosted a special reception in honour of his retirement. Art will stay on as an advisor to the committee. Art enjoyed working with committee representatives and clergy from the eight St. John’s and Mount Pearl parishes, and with the very dedicated cemetery supervisors, Clarence Best (now deceased) and Alton Newell.
Commencing in 2000, as Chair of Property and Maintenance, he initiated numerous major projects in both cemeteries. Forest Road Cemetery, with over 21,000 estimated burials since it was dedicated by Bishop Edward Feild on June 25th, 1849, required significant gravesite restoration as there were thousands of fallen and tilted monuments. This heritage preservation work is still ongoing, and all burials now receive “perpetual care,” although interment needs have changed over the years. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people choosing cremation interment, from 19% in 1998 to 89% at present. In order to meet the anticipated demand, and to extend the life of the cemetery, the first columbarium in the city was installed in Forest Road in 2000. Since then, eleven additional columbaria have since been erected in this cemetery in a park-like setting. Flowers and park benches are placed on these sites provide for remembrance and meditation.
Kenmount Road Cemetery has also received ongoing gravesite restoration. A Memorial Park with a large granite cross, floral gardens, park benches and three columbaria, have been set up in the southern part of this cemetery. A new 4-acre burial section has now been completed in the western part of Kenmount Cemetery; based on present land use, this site will provide interment spaces up to 2050.
Commencing in 2000, computer programs were set up with the assistance of Tara Hutchings (St. Mark’s) to record details of in ground and columbaria interments shown in numerous burial books. Since then, computerization of interment records by staff is ongoing. For Forest Road Cemetery, well kept records between March 19th, 1881 and May 17th, 2022 show 17,034 interments. For Kenmount Road Cemetery, from the time burials started there on December 13th 1971, up to May 17th, 2022, records show 5410 interments. The actual total recorded interments for both cemeteries between March 19th, 1881 to May 17th, 2022 is 22,444. Funding for the operation of Forest Road and Kenmount Road cemeteries comes mainly from the sale and servicing of casket and cremation plots and columbarium niches. Additional funding comes from memorial services donations and financial contributions from the eight Anglican parishes within the St. John’s and Mount Pearl region.
Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it. Serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Wishing Arthur a healthy, happy retirement!