WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — All Saints Sunday is a day to remember the lives of church members who have died over the past year, but this year, First United Methodist Church of Wichita Falls is not only honoring those they’ve lost, but those lost in this community as a whole.
Members of First United Methodist Church of Wichita Falls feel the loss left in the community by COVID-19 each day.
“We had a woman named Sue who was in assisted living, but she had been so integral to this church and done so many amazing things — Joyce as well,” Education Pastor at First United Methodist Church Georgia Harrison said. “They were pillars of our church, and it was hard to lose them.”
Senior Minister Reverend John McLarty said he was inspired to do a flag memorial after a recent visit to the National Mall, where he saw the flags there, honoring the more than 750,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in the United States.
“Each of these flags is a neighbor, someone that we worked with, someone that we were in community with, someone who was in our schools, and each life is important. Each life matters, and we grieve their loss,” McLarty said. “This is a way just to honor their memory, but also to remember, as a community, what we’ve been through together.”
466 flags, to represent each life lost to COVID since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, were put on the church lawn. They represent lives that McLarty and Harrison said they feel honored to remember.
“I feel honored that we are able to represent every single individual in our county that has lost their lives to COVID-19,” Harrison said. “It makes me really sad we’ve lost several of our beloved members.”
“It’s sad, certainly it doesn’t diminish the lives that we’ve lost to cancer or heart disease or tragedies or anything else, but this pandemic is a unique experience in our history, so we thought it was important to take a moment to grieve,” Pastor McLarty said. “Grieving is a natural part of our healing process.”
McLarty said this is all a part of his mission.
“I think it’s a part of our witness as a Christian community to stand together as people of faith with the people of our community,” McLarty said. “We care for one another, we care for our neighbors, and this is a way we can express that.”
466 lives gone, but never forgotten.
McLarty said it’s important that the community continues to work together to fight the virus and do what’s best for one another.