Memorial Garden and Columbarium

Mem Garden
The Columbarium was dedicated on Sunday, November 3, 2000. This monument holds the cremains of deceased loved ones.  For more information about the Columbarium, click here.
Thanks to Joyce Fisher for her work, initiative, and generous gift of the columbarium in memory of her late husband, Red Fisher.
COLUMBARIUM DEDICATION   The word “columbarium” is derived from the Latin word, “columba” meaning dove.  The “dovecote”, or nesting area, is made up of many niches where doves make their nests.  The Ascension columbarium is an arrangement of recessed niches to hold cremation urns containing the remains of those who have died in Christ.   On Ash Wednesday the language of the liturgy includes these words from scripture… Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.   The cremation process returns our bodies to dust.   Many are familiar with the rural tradition of the cemetery located alongside the church building.   The columbarium enables us to preserve the spirit of this valuable tradition as well with the Ascension communion of saints including both those who are alive and those who have died in the faith.

sculpture3ASCENSION’S FIRST MEMORIAL GARDEN SCULPTURE  was dedicated on Ascension Sunday, May 12, 2002.  This graceful work of art, sculpted by local artist Jon DeCelles from white marble with silver-grey veins, sits on a boulder especially selected to serve as its pedestal.  Titled “Ascension”, the work symbolizes Christ ascending into Heaven and serves as a reminder that our loved ones have also ascended into Heaven to be with God for eternity.  The piece was commissioned as a memorial for Tom Doench  by the Doench family.  For more detail about the installation of this statue, click here.

Ascension Lutheran Church is Metro Phoenix Exclusive Home for “Homeless Jesus”

On Sunday, November 23, 2014, Ascension Lutheran Church unveiled a life-size bronze sculpture titled “Homeless Jesus” with a community dedication, hoping that this life-size bronze sculpture will inspire spiritual reflection and human compassion within our community.

Created by Canadian sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz out of bronze, Homeless Jesus is inspired by Matthew 25:40-  “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The sculpture is a representation that suggests Christ is with the most marginalized in our society. The Christ figure is shrouded in a blanket. The visible wounds on the feet are the only indication that it is Jesus. The life-size version of the work has enough room that someone is able to sit on the bench.

“The sculpture is an invitation to everyone – church-goers and non-church goers, to be part of a community that cares for one another,” says Reverend Ryan Hersch, pastor of Ascension. “This statue is for all of us.”

Ascension is the exclusive location for the sculpture in Phoenix; currently, four other major markets worldwide also have a sculpture. The sculpture’s powerful image, intended to elicit compassion, reflection and un-ease amongst onlookers has sparked controversy in other cities.  In 2013, Pope Francis blessed the original wooden statue of Homeless Jesus, following a meeting with the artist. The wooden statue will remain in the Vatican until a location for the full-size sculpture is identified in Rome.

“Homeless Jesus sitting there on a park bench is speaking with an invisible loudspeaker to all who pass by, saying ‘Come and sit awhile with me, talk to me. I understand and I am walking with you through all the trials of your life’,” says Deacon Jayne Baker of Ascension. “The sculpture speaks volumes, without saying a word.”

Miniature statues are available for purchase through Ascension, with all proceeds to directly benefit the church’s outreach to ministries serving the homeless. Click here for our online store.

The church installed a new water station in close proximity to Homeless Jesus to welcome the many hikers and bikers that use Mockingbird Lane regularly.