Anglican priest Fr. Steve Kelley and his wife Lorita have been uniquely called to serve St. John Lutheran Church in Roanoke, VA. Lorita contacted Anglicans For Life to share news of their church’s Remberance Garden project in hopes that additional Anglican churches would be interested in replicating their efforts.
“The Remembrance Garden for the Unborn” honors all babies that do not have a grave. As many as 26% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, miscarriages usually occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In addition to the number of miscarriages, there is the loss of life through infertility, abortion and stillbirth – any of which may cause depression and grief for individuals connected to the unborn baby. Many of these reproductive losses are compounded because there is no memorial or grave to acknowledge the grieving process. Men and women need a personal place to mourn their child’s death, no matter how long ago it occurred.
St. John Lutheran Church members identified this need to create a sacred outdoor garden to honor the unborn, and allow people to move forward in their grief. Designed and built by local businesses and church volunteers, it was dedicated in September 2021. The memorial boasts a large, intricate ironwork window. The ironwork was designed so padlocks can be attached in honor of an unborn child. These padlocks can be decorated or personalized with initials, or customized with jewelry and art to memorialize the loss of each life. The padlock keys are usually kept by a parent in remembrance of their loss.
In addition, a unique, interactive website has been developed to coexist with the actual Garden. The goal of the website is to reach affected individuals virtually and offer healing and reconciliation at a global level. To access the website, visit GardenForTheUnborn.com.
Through this innovative “Garden experience,” people can access the website while visiting the garden, or in the privacy of their home, to experience healing through art, poetry, blogs and music.
Anyone is welcome to visit the Remembrance Garden for the Unborn and attach a padlock to remember their pregnancy loss. Individuals who cannot visit the Garden in-person, but wish to participate, can mail a padlock to the church, and it will be secured to the lattice for them. The Garden is open year-round and located next to the visitor parking at St. John Lutheran Church, 4608 Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke. For more information, visit GardenForTheUnborn.com.