Monroe Street Cemetery Gatehouse, Gate Cleveland, Ohio

Monroe Street Cemetery
Gatehouse, Gate
Cleveland, Ohio

Monroe Street Cemetery Gatehouse Restoration

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Allen V. Harris

Pastor, Franklin Circle Christian Church (Cleveland, Ohio)



Every life has a story. No matter how few days or how many years a person has been granted on this earth, every life has a story. No matter how famous, no matter how quiet, no matter how matter-of-factly-everyday a life may have been, each one reveals a story. And every story is precious and should be valued.


As we gather to celebrate the restoration of the gatehouse for the Monroe Street Cemetery, and give thanks for the vision, hard work, and dedication of so many who cherish the legacy of this cemetery and who believe in maintaining its beauty, history, and place in the community, we must rededicate ourselves to listening to and retelling the stories of those buried here. For in doing so, we will connect ours and other people’s stories to those lives marked by mausoleums and gravestones, and every story will find deeper meaning and perpetual life.


Let us pray:

O Divine One, who is invoked by many names and in in diverse ways, but whose presence in this solemn and sacred space is assured, we ask that you receive our presence and prayers this day.


We begin by asking, as always upon entering this place, that you help us to honor the lives of those buried and interred here. May our actions and our words and even our thoughts do nothing to disgrace but only revere those whose lives are memorialized here.


We then ask, O God, that you help us celebrate the ongoing work of those who have made it their mission to keep this cemetery in such a condition that it both respects those buried here and inspires those who visit to better lives and more noble causes.


And finally, O God, we ask that you bless this day as a celebration of community, past, present, and future. May the creative and ardent work of the Monroe Street Cemetery Foundation and the Monroe Street Players continue to be fruitful and effective in bringing to life the stories and memories of those honored here. May the commitment and vision of officials, from the leaders at Ohio City, Inc. to the Mayor of Cleveland be consistent, ready, and sufficient to maintain this landmark. May the labor of those who rebuilt the gatehouse, and other facets of the cemetery, be respected and celebrated, for without them these stones would yet still be strewn about. And bless all of us gathered here today, that we might be inspired to share our own stories as we share the stories of those memorialized here at the Monroe Street Cemetery.







Please join me in a final word of reflection and prayer:

Sacred storyteller, we thank you for all whose memory is forever linked with this place… We pray for landowners Josiah Barber and Richard Lord, whose gift made this place possible. We pray for all the funeral directors, casket makers, stonemasons, gravediggers, sextons, gardeners, caretakers, religious officiants, and even florists whose efforts played a part in remembering lives. We pray for children who died far too young, soldiers who died in service to our country, for abolitionists, factory workers, saloonkeepers, mayors, stable owners, mothers & fathers, canal builders, soapmakers, and even ministers who are buried here. We pray for those whose names included titles as dignitaries, those whose headstones simply offer their names, and even for those who go unnamed sadly designated as “baby” or with no name at all.


As we conclude this ceremony and celebrate in festive style, let us not simply celebrate stones returned to their proper places in a beautiful gatehouse. Let us celebrate the rich tapestry of stories of those for whom this gatehouse welcomed them in their one last journey of life. May we never forget that our work here, as well as our life’s work, will always be built on and of the stories of those who have gone on before.