Robbins, N.C. — The Maness family has deep roots in Moore County. At a cemetery on the grounds of Acorn Ridge Baptist Church in Robbins, at least a dozen gravestones bear that family name.
But Bernie and Todd Maness say their legacy has been disrupted by the church's refusal to bury their mother on the cemetery plot she reserved 32 years ago.
"My family gave them the ground it sits on. My direct (ancestors) gave them that," Bernie Maness said. "Now my mom can't be buried there with her family."
The cemetery sits on a hill that was called Maness Hill until the family donated the land to the church on Feb. 25, 1891.
"They gave it because they needed a church in the community," Bernie Maness said.
On Monday, exactly 122 years later, their mother, Delphia Lee Maness, passed away. She was 69.
Delphia Maness had wanted to be buried on the family land, in the plot where her husband and sons would eventually rest, the brothers say. But Acorn Ridge Baptist Church says she can't be buried in the cemetery because she wasn't an active member of the church.
"My mom was everything, everything – the first lady I ever loved," said a tearful Todd Maness.
"When she died, that's where she thought she was going to be buried," Bernie Maness added.
The family laid burial markers for Delphia Maness, her husband and two sons at the cemetery in 1981. At the time, the brothers said, there was no rule that only active church members could be buried there.
Pastor John Williamson said the decision was made by the church's Board of Trustees and that his hands are tied.
Todd Maness said he's disappointed in that decision.
"Our parents always taught us that, if you didn't have a friend in the world, you could always go to a church," he said. "If you were starving, they would help feed you. They're supposed to be there for you. When we need them, it's like a business."
The brothers say they have offered to pay extra for their mother's burial, but the church isn't budging.
A funeral for Delphia Maness is slated for Thursday.