FORT WALTON BEACH — A burial rite and service was performed at Beal Memorial Cemetery on Saturday for about 52 people who passed away this year and could not afford a funeral.


"... I think we often overlook the people who need us the most and I was just thrilled to hear that the county is willing to do something like this to provide an area for these people who need it so desperately," said Karla Pezdirtz, an attendee of the event.


The Lazarus Field Service began with ringing of the bells and ended with "Amazing Grace."


During the opening remarks of the service, the Rev. Ray Angerman explained why they had chosen to name the service Lazarus. He told the story of Lazarus, the man who begged for table scraps, and the dogs were the only ones who had mercy. They licked his sores.


"Every life is important, and so today we come because we value life," Angerman said.


The remains of the deceased honored Saturday will be buried in plots in Beal Memorial Cemetery between two benches.


The tradition of the Lazarus Field Service began four years ago when Okaloosa County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel wanted to give a burial to those who could not afford a funeral.