Magic Marker Draws Cleveland Crowd

Cleveland, Georgia - Shortly after Christmas, 1997, Henry and Louise Parker (63 and 58 respectively) noticed what appeared to be a gold light shining from the small graveyard nestled between a statue of the Virgin Mary and the First Baptist Church's rose garden. Having traveled three hours from Brunswick, Georgia, they at first wrote off the vision as fatigue. On closer inspection, they found that the gravestone of William "Buck" Stephenson (1875-1943) seemed to be reflecting the bronze hue, despite the fact that the marker itself is made of grayish limestone. The glow appeared around an hour before dusk, and supposedly remained shining after the sun went down.

Deadlights are on - Stephenson's Glowing Grave

Church secretary Bernadette Walters, a fifteen year veteran of the church clerical staff, claims that the glow seems to emanate from the gravestone around Christmas and Easter of every year. Over the years, she has photographed the image repeatedly, collecting an impressive photo album commemorating Buck's glowing headstone.

Amazed by the light and believing it to be a vision of Christ's love of the church and Baptism in general, Henry and Louise returned two days later with a carload of friends and believers.

"The gravestone points due east, not west, and it shines for over an hour after dusk. It's no reflection!" says Parker, who plans to visit the grave every weekend as long as the glow remains. His fascination has drawn more than a few curious onlookers, including the local chapter of "Young Life," a pious Christian club from Cleveland High School.

Edmond Simms, CHS Earth Science teacher and sponsor of "Young Life" thinks that the gravestone is doing more than simply bringing Christian teens over to the church. "It's getting the kids to talk to their elders, something they rarely do voluntarily," he laughs. "Heck, I can hardly get them to listen to me."

The grave has certainly brought together this community, known only as the birthplace of "Cabbage Patch Kids" in the 80's. Some have planned to release post cards and tee shirts bearing the mark of the shining gravestone. Shirly Adams, the only local descendent of William Stephenson, has declined the community the right to do so, asking that her great uncle be allowed to rest in peace. Her refusal, however, has not hurt the collection plate of the First Baptist Church, however, whose congregation take the stone (which stopped glowing around mid-May) as a profound sign from heaven. Minister Charles Grosser, the pastor of the Baptist congregation would give no comment.


the Cleveland Register, January 2 1998

phone interview with Bernadette Walters March 12, 1998

Photo Courtesy of Cleveland Register

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