Mormons join forces with Methodists to improve Stones River National Battlefield

Nancy De Gennaro, The Daily News Journal, October 8, 2017

Members of the local Mormon congregations gathered recently with St. Mark’s United Methodist Church parishioners for a labor-intensive project at the Stones River National Battlefield location off Northwest Broad Street.

Battlefield staff members struggle to keep the national park as natural and native as possible.

“But they’ve got these invasive plants — Chinese privet and honeysuckle — putting up a wall and overtaking the native grasses,” explained Zeph Isom, assistant director of public affairs for the Murfreesboro Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the 1800s, the natural landscape would have featured fields of native grasses waving in the breeze, set against a backdrop of split-rail fences and groves of cedars. Much of the battlefield park, part of the National Park Service, features that scenery. But there are other less-visited locations of the battlefield that are fighting a more vigorous battle against the exotic species of plants.

“They helped us remove nearly 2,000 invasive exotic plants improving the appearance of the historic landscape at our McFadden Farm unit,” said Jim Lewis, chief of interpretation, education and cultural resource management at the battlefield.

Crews met at the old McFadden Farm, now National Park Service property, located just off Northwest Broad Street.

More than 100 volunteers cut, pulled out and sprayed the invasive plants for nearly two hours on a hot summer Saturday morning.

“We got done early, and did about twice what the battlefield (staff) thought we’d get done,” Isom said.

The Rev. Craig Goff, senior pastor at St. Mark’s, said his church members were happy with the partnership between the two religious groups.