A number of families have been contacted and asked to reclaim private graves based at St Johns Church, in Stoneyford, next month.
Two special days have been set aside at the church hall for relatives to lay claim to family plots on June 4 and 11 from 2pm to 4pm.
Letters have been sent out to a number of relatives already, some who live as far away as London and the church also placed newspaper advertising in an attempt to locate relatives.
The church plans to set out new graveyard rules too regarding the upkeep of the graves, which are likely to be implemented, if agreed by the congregation, by the end of this year.
The rules will include no plants, shrubbery or grave surrounds allowed on the plot and all graves must be kept clean and tidy at all times.
The last time the church had a grave reclaim was back in 1993.
“This is basically to let relatives know if they want to re-use a grave at St John’s they need to reclaim it.” said Jennifer Kennedy, secretary at the church.
“All graves need to be reclaimed. We have old addresses of family members but we do not know if they are still alive and what plans. if any, they have for the family plots. Some plots have never been reclaimed.
“If one member of the family does lay claim to a plot we will need to get permission from other relatives. That is, if a parent has left the grave to one member of the family and it was willed to them we will need to get a letter of authority from the other siblings.”
Anyone who would like to reclaim a grave is asked to ring Jennifer or contact the treasurer Jason McCourt on 07812-195501
The original St John’s Church, Stoneyford, opened in October 6 1841 by the Rev Savage Hall, vicar of Derriaghy. The church was renovated in 1934 and re-roofed, a new heating system installed, an organ added and the graveyard improved. The rectory, which was purchased in 1862, was demolished and replaced by a modern building in 1991.