Copper Beech Tree
Durham's cherished Copper Beech Tree stood beside our congregation for about 125 years. From generation to generation, the tree witnessed countless baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and worship services. Many moments were captured under her boughs. Unfortunately, the beloved tree suffered from disease and insect infestation causing dangerous falling limbs. Arborists tried to treat these problems for years. Without warning on a calm sunny day large heavy branches began dropping, a sign her days were numbered. With heavy hearts, the tree was cut down for safety sake in October 2016. The tree trunk circumference was 184 inches and she stood 62 feet tall with a branch spread 92.5 feet wide. The spirit of the Copper Beech Tree lives on as a cross section of the trunk was studied in a course at Wesleyan University and was placed on permenant display at their College of the Environment.
Eulogy for our Copper Beech Tree
This historic Copper Beech Tree came on a boat in the form of a small sapling, along with a few others from England. Copper Beech Trees are ancient slow growing trees, all over Europe you can find them planted at cross roads as sacred symbols of wisdom, a reminder to take the wise path in life. This tree loved this land and grew. She grew proud, strong, majestic, and pointing toward the heavens. She stood as a witness to countless births and baptisms. Children have climbed her limbs and played in her shade. She has withstood storms and gales, floods and droughts. She loved this corner of the world. She watched a small community picnic grow into a booming Award-Winning Fair. She has seen horses and buggies become all sorts of automobiles. She has witnessed many brides and all their changing fashions. Many a confirmation class has stood proudly photographed beneath her boughs. She has mourned our losses and heard the bells ringing from the church tower all these many years. She has loved this land and this community. And we have loved her in return. We are grateful for her ever-present wisdom, her shade and her strength. Now as she drops her leaves, as her bark fades and her branches fall, she speaks clearly that her days are numbered. With heavy spirits, we must shepherd her into the next phase of being. She never really belonged to us, but she belongs to God’s creation. She will return to the earth. Like all living things that are loved, her spirit will remain vital to us and we will grieve like any other loss.
- J. C. Hicks 2016