Graveyard lantern tour helps keep Lawncrest church’s spirit alive

Parishioners of Trinity Church Oxford in Lawncrest will keep the spirit of their church alive during a historical lantern graveyard tour this Saturday.

Kate Sampson, director and producer of the lantern graveyard tour, incorporated stories from prior tours with new material found in burial records, archives and tombstones. She said she believes that the lantern tour is an opportunity to engage the community.

“The church holds 314 years of history,” Sampson said. “I feel it’s our responsibility to see that it continues to be passed down.”

However, guests will learn more than the history of the church. Many of the streets in Northeast Philadelphia are named after families buried in the graveyard. Benjamin Cottman and his family plot, which dates back to the 1700s, is just one of the stops on the tour.

Guests will also be invited to a funeral where a ghostly organist plays a somber tune and hear the legend behind a tombstone from 1686 thought to belong to a Native American and his horse. A crypt keeper may reveal some creepy stories along the way while “ghosts” wander through the graveyard.

Tours begin at 6 p.m. and will run every 15 minutes until 9 p.m. Guests can enjoy apple cider and a bake sale at the end of the tour in the “Buchanan Building” on the church grounds. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children and can be bought in advance.

Jessica Lopez and Lucia Volpe are students reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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