Though the town’s highest elected official said recently that he doesn’t understand the Congregational Church of New Canaan’s claim regarding ownership of God’s Acre, an email obtained by NewCanaanite.com shows that the church’s pastor had outlined the position to him early this summer. The Rev. Chapin Garner told First Selectman Kevin Moynihan in a June 9 email, “Our understanding is this: God’s Acre is not only a cemetery, it is our church cemetery.”
“Indeed, it is named ‘God’s Acre’ because that is the 17th century term for a church burial ground,” Garner said in the email, whose copied recipients included Town Attorney Ira Bloom, attorney Gabriella Kiniry, a congregant who has advised the church, and Nick Williams, a selectman who also is a a member the church. “We have had pastors and parishioners buried on that hill, and it is our sacred obligation to protect that hallowed ground in which they were laid to rest,” Garner’s email continued. “We do not want anything built on our ancient burial ground—not a terrace and not sidewalks. Not only is that our desire, but we strongly believe Connecticut State law prohibits any construction on an ancient burial ground.”
He referred to a state law that prohibits towns from using ancient burial grounds for anything other than burials.