Church Ruins and Hidden Graves

Bethlehem Baptist Church Ruins

Just off I-78 in Union township, New Jersey, beyond a thin wall of trees can be found a picturesque old cemetery. Although located in close proximity to the major through-way, things are peaceful here. An aged stacked stone wall with a black iron gate surrounds the property. At it's forefront can be found the ruins of the Bethlehem Baptist Church, abandoned over a hundred years ago, in 1906. The church had come to be in ruin before I-78 even existed. During the construction of the interstate a crew handling the excavating equipment offered to plow over the church ruins as they passed by, an offer which was declined by the gentleman who owns the property to this day, and who's family had once been of the congregation when the church was still in operation. This same man also acts as the groundskeeper here, and has kept the lawn surrounding the church ruins in immaculate form. Within the church however, a wild and dense forest has taken root. Left to its own devices this miniature patch of woods has utterly consumed the entirety of the church’s former interior. Plant life roots in and upon whatever it possibly can. During the full bloom of the warm summer months, there is an explosion of life within the old church. Where once the roof of the former church stood now sways a thick canopy of green limbs, the mass of which blots out the sun, and casts a massive shadow upon the graves below.

Not far away, toward the rear of the property grows a giant shrub. Like the rest of the grounds it has been kept well manicured, and does not strike one as seeming outwardly strange in any way. Upon closer investigation however, one may notice a fallen gravestone, the carving “Elnor, wife of John” still visible upon its weathered face. The small fallen stone has kept plant life from growing, and in doing so creates a small passageway into the interior of the bush. Crossing from the bright summer sun to the hollow darkened interior results in a moment of temporary blindness as your eyes adjust to the shadowed surroundings. As you regain your orientation, you come to see that the interior of this giant bush is home to more than just you and Elnor. An entire family plot has come to be encapsulated here within these gnarled branches. Though at first it may seem sad that these graves have become lost, it only takes a short while to realize that this may be the most tranquil place on the entire grounds.

This large shrub in the rear of the church hides away a small burial plot.

A strange serenity is present around the hidden graves.