Dumbarton UMC Transfers Cemetery Deed to Mt. Zion

Dumbarton, which has owned Mt. Zion’s cemetery for decades, has finally transferred the deed to the predominantly African-American church down the street.

In the 1800s, Dumbarton leased the cemetery to Mt. Zion for a dollar for 99 years. That lease expired in the 1970s, when Dumbarton’s small membership was tempted to sell the land for development. But Mike Beard refused to go along with the plan, convincing the congregation that it was a bad idea.

Since then, the cemetery has been designated a historical site and is off limits to sale or commercial development. Transferring the deed was considered especially important since Mt. Zion and Dumbarton have increasingly sought reconciliation and worked to strengthen our shared ministries and friendships with another.

(The photo shows Mike Beard, David Cook and Connie Wilkinson of Dumbarton with Vernon Ricks and Catherine Bowman of Mt. Zion.)

The plan to transfer the deed to Mt. Zion was more complicated than expected, but Connie Wilkinson, an attorney, shepherded the process to completion. On Feb. 9, Vernon Ricks, chairperson of the Mt. Zion Trustees and David Cook, then chair of Dumbarton trustees, signed the paperwork for the deed transfer. A ceremony honoring the transfer was held at Mt. Zion on March 5.