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Baptist pastor finds calling in post-Holocaust cemeteries

ROHATYN, Ukraine (AP) — Steven Reece pulls a shield over his face, takes a weed whacker in hand, and begins trimming tall grass in an overgrown, tick-infested Jewish cemetery in western Ukraine.

For years now, Reece, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, has been cleaning Jewish cemeteries and erecting memorial plaques at mass grave sites in Poland and Ukraine. The region, once Europe’s Jewish heartland, saw millions of Jews shot and gassed by Nazi German forces during World War II.

The 63-year-old American says cleaning up old cemeteries is his way, as a Christian, of honoring Holocaust victims and supporting the surviving Jewish communities here.

“I saw the Jewish cemetery as a way to bring Jew and Christian together in a common place where they could work together with one another,” he said.

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