Friends General Conference

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Friends Burial and Memorial Garden Policy

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For the information of the meeting community and others in the local area interested in burial here, note that there is an updated Burial Policy (below) for the cemetery on the Meeting House property as well as our new Memorial Garden with its central stone.

Further inquiries may be directed to the Burial & Memorial Committee, Paul Forman, clerk.
(Phone: (207) 437-9368 Email

or Sue Haines Phone: (207) 923-3391  Email

Vassalboro Friends Meeting – Friends Cemetery and Memorial Garden–Burial Policy

1. The burial grounds are the responsibility of the Meeting. Administration of the policy is delegated to a Burial and Memorial Committee, appointed annually by Vassalboro Friends Meeting.  Members and attenders and their families seeking burial in VFM grounds will contact a member of the Committee to obtain specific guidance and approval of burial arrangements, location and memorials.  To assure that families can make timely decisions regarding memorial services and burial site availability, the Burial and Memorial Committee can act without the full participation of all its members, if they are not available.  It should be noted that the VFM Property Committee will be responsible for planning and logistics related to the use of the Meeting House and parking area.

2. The Meeting permits burials of deceased members and frequent attenders of the Vassalboro Friends Meeting, as well as their children, spouses or life partners.   It is the policy of VFM to permit burials of individuals not affiliated with the Meeting, when there is a documented or implicit understanding which predates the establishment of this policy or when unusual circumstances suggest an exception to the policy; it is the Burial and Memorial Committee’s responsibility to make this determination.
3. Vassalboro Friends Meeting encourages simplicity and the reduction of costs common in today’s funeral practice.  The Meeting does not require underground concrete vaults. It permits Green Burials. The Meeting encourages cremation and limits of the size memorial markers.  We embrace the guidance of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice (1963) which suggests that, “graves should be marked by plain, low stones, rising not more than eight or ten inches above the ground, giving the name of the deceased, with age or appropriate dates.”  If requested by families in need, the Meeting  may offer  to assist with the costs of cremations (at a predetermined price, at a predetermined business) for members and frequent attenders whose remains are interred in the burial grounds; the amount of assistance will be determined by the Burial/Memorial Committee.

4. No plantings or other permanent material of any kind is permitted     above ground in the cemetery (except the memorial stone referenced in paragraph 3).  Any other material left at a gravesite will be removed on an annual basis or as needed.  Flags or ornaments of any kind must meet the Friends tradition of simplicity and appropriate size, approved by the Friends Burial and Memorial Committee and embracing the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice (1963).

5. The Burial and Memorial Committee cannot make absolute commitments regarding the location of future burials, whether in the Memorial Garden or in the Friends Cemetery.  However, every effort will be made to honor the requests of surviving family members, demonstrating sensitivity to family closeness and concerns.

6. Due to the increasing use of cremation as a form of burial and due to the decreasing land available over time, the Committee may, after further study, determine the appropriate size for such burial plots.

7. The Burial and Memorial Committee will establish and maintain, in cooperation with the Library Committee, an accurate record of burials and their locations, accessible to the general public, including the Vassalboro Historical Society and Town of Vassalboro Library.

8. To encourage further simplicity, the Meeting has established a Memorial Garden where ashes may be buried, with birth and death dates recorded on a central stone.  To assure consistent appearance, orders for such inscriptions must be made through the Committee and the price paid by the family or individual at a standard rate.  In keeping with the tradition of simplicity, names will be listed plainly without titles, such as Dr. Mr., Mrs., PhD, or other similar titles.

9. As some members and attenders are interred in other locations, names of such members and attenders may be recorded on the central stone.  If an individual’s remains are buried elsewhere in the VFM Burial Ground, that individual’s name may not be recorded on the central stone, as well.  

For couples who would like to have their names engraved on the central stone in spaces adjacent to each other at the time of the death of the first partner, that will be possible, though the couple must understand that this is a permanent decision, literally etched in stone.  They must think about the seriousness of their request, taking into account unknown variables such as future relationships, name changes and geographic relocations.  Should they wish to proceed, both names will be engraved with the available dates at the time of the first death and the final date will be engraved when the second individual dies.  It is our policy to not allow spaces on the central stone to be left blank in anticipation of future intentions.

General Guidance to Families and the Meeting

In order to help the family and the Meeting, Friends are encouraged to plan ahead and make their wishes known through the use of wills, other documents and conversations with family and friends.  Living wills (5 Wishes, provided by the Committee) are encouraged to help families in their decisions.  Affirming the guidance of Faith and Practice of NEYM of Friends (1985), the policy of Vassalboro Friends Meeting is that we shall continue to develop and provide the necessary support and tools for families, at time of death.  When a death occurs in the Meeting, the Community of Friends should assist the family by providing a Package of Resources, offering support in whatever way may be needed, such as help with the children, with food or housework, or with hospitality for visiting relatives. The sympathy and affection of Friends for those in sorrow is best shown by compassionate support.   The family should arrange for the disposal of the body in accordance with legal requirements and the wishes of the deceased.  Friends should practice simplicity and avoid display or excessive expense.

A Meeting for Worship is the proper form for a memorial service or funeral. The presence of God brings comfort, hope and consolation. Ministry and Counsel is the committee that oversees all such arrangements. The monthly meeting should consider writing a memorial minute (New England Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, 1985, p. 250). Assisting in all arrangements for the memorial service (ibid.), members of the Burial and Memorial Committee should consider how many people are expected to attend, allowing alternative locations if the Meeting House is not large enough. Communication with the clerk of the Property Committee should be made to confirm fire codes, etc. Access to a sound system and arrangements for music should be organized, if desired. The Meeting clerk or other assigned Friend should explain the format of the service for those not familiar with Quaker practice. The service may be followed by a time when Friends can gather socially with each other and the family. The Hospitality Committee may coordinate the provision of simple foods.

Counseling resources may be suggested to the family as needed. The policy developed by the Burial and Memorial Committee affirms the guidance of Faith and Practice of NEYM Friends (1985), that it is the responsibility of Vassalboro Friends Meeting to provide the necessary resources for families at time of death, in the tradition of Friends.

  • Package of Resources for Family of Deceased:
    • Burial and Memorial Policy
    • List of  Burial/Cremation Resources
    • Advice for Arrangements, Necessary within a Few Hours
    • Five Wishes Living Will
    • Memorial Celebration Prep. List  

Revised, March 2013……final draft, agreed upon by VFM Cemetery and Memorial Garden Committee on Weds., Feb. 11….to be presented to Meeting for Business, on Sunday, March 29, 2015/now to be presented-revised on Sunday, April 26, at Meeting for Business….Approved May, 24, 2015.