A group of McMinn County residents have plans to honor the lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic later this month.
The Athens Ministerial Association is planning to host a COVID-19 Memorial Service to honor the memories of those who were lost during the past year.
The event is currently scheduled for Sunday, June 27, at Athens Market Park Pavilion starting at 7 p.m. The event is open to the public free of charge.
According to Keith Memorial United Methodist Church Pastor Dave Graybeal, they are currently planning the program for the ceremony.
“We are in the process now of arranging some speakers in some of the different aspects of the worship service,” Graybeal said. “A lot of people in the community may or may not have gotten to hold a memorial service for a loved one, so we thought it would be a good time to offer the community to come together and remember the way the county has been affected by this and the people that we lost.”
Throughout the lockdowns that took place as a result of the pandemic, memorial services were a victim of limitations on gatherings and were often postponed, held with a very limited number of people or never happened.
Graybeal believes the event will help provide some closure to families who have experienced loss during the pandemic.
“This provides us an opportunity to come together and acknowledge our grief and loss in the midst of COVID,” Graybeal expressed.
“Hopefully this will also provide hope for our future together.”
Graybeal has experienced some positive feedback in support of the event.
“Groups we have talked to have been supportive and felt that this would be an important thing for the community to do,” he said. “We haven’t really had an opportunity to mark some of the losses we experienced as a community and once the number of deaths hit 100, which even losing a single life was too much, we felt that we really needed to do something.”
Graybeal expressed his gratitude to Mother Claire Brown of St Paul’s Episcopal Church for her leadership in preparing for this event.
“She has really helped and developed the order of worship and organized some of the different aspects of that, so even though she has only been here a couple of months she has really thrown herself into helping out and we really appreciate her help,” he expressed.