Faith leaders, community gather to remember those lost to COVID-19

A year has passed since the first life was claimed in Lycoming County due to complications from COVID-19, officials at a county interfaith service said.

Thursday through Sunday marked the somber anniversary and folks gathered on the front lawn of UPMC Williamsport Regional Medical Center Sunday to remember and find reason for hope.

“It is the compassion and faith of the community that makes us strong,” said Patti Jackson-Gehris, UPMC vice president of Strategy and Business Development, as the gentle breezes basked the small gathering of pastors and members of the community.

An untold number of scientists, doctors and nurses have served their communities and

continue to help provide vaccines and offer care and comfort to restore bodies, souls and heal minds.

Across the nation, more than 580,000 individuals’ have lost their lives due to the virus.

Around the globe, more than 3.1 million have perished due to the virus, according to the information shared at the event.

With those staggering figures, Tammey L. Aichner, pastor and director of United Churches of Lycoming County, offered a guidepost moving forward for those coping with the illness.

She noted how when David in the Book of Pslams in the Bible was in his darkest hour of despair he called out to the Almighty for intercession.

So, too, can those who are afflicted or caring for those sick — call for provision of hope, peace and rest. Another pastor provided those equally comforting words of hope.

Marvin Hurwitz offered a prayer of thanksgiving.

“May God swiftly send them a complete renewal of body and spirit and let us say, Amen,” Hurwitz said.

Melodie Russell shared a litany of prayer, noting how the disease has disproportionately and sadly afflicted so many individuals of color.

Russell shared excerpts from the Prayers from the African American Black Church adapted from a prayer by Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, president of the Skinner Leadership Institute and co-convener of the National African American Clergy Network.

“We thank you, O righteous God, for exposing racial discrimination in the distribution of vaccines, even as communities of color move from hesitancy to acceptance of the vaccine, now in short supply,” Russell said.

“We praise you, Holy God, for health professionals on the front line and for the scientists, including scientists of color who contributed to the creation of life-saving vaccines and for the role of the faith community as trusted vaccine distribution sources.”

The Rev. Brian VanFossen focused on Psalm 22, which are the words of what would happened hundreds of years later Jesus Christ while on the cross. It was his time of suffering but it ends in triumph, VanFossen said.

The inter-faith service included a table set-up for participants to light a candle in honor, memory, or thanksgiving for someone.

But the breezes were blowing too hard so the candles were provided for the participants to take home.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today