Lights of remembrance, hope

Holy Week memorial a space for grief, prayer to God who is with those who suffer

Luminaries lit a path that ended at the historic Salford schoolhouse, built in 1883, where a space for prayer was available. Participants could reflect with art, light a candle and write a prayer to hang on a prayer wall. The prayer wall tags included names of people who died from COVID-19, as well as hopes for the future. — Sondi Good Alderfer Luminaries lit a path that ended at the historic Salford schoolhouse, built in 1883, where a space for prayer was available. Participants could reflect with art, light a candle and write a prayer to hang on a prayer wall. The prayer wall tags included names of people who died from COVID-19, as well as hopes for the future. — Sondi Good Alderfer

The day before Palm Sunday presented a beautiful evening for a luminary walk through the cemetery of Salford Mennonite Church in Harleysville, Pa. The walk was the opening event for a weeklong outdoor memorial on the church grounds to remember those who have died from COVID-19.

The memorial, “Covid Remembrance and Hope,” invited members of the congregation and the public to reflect on losses due to the pandemic, both locally and around the globe.

“This has been a year like no other, for all of us,” Pastor Beth Yoder said. “We have known loss, disruption and upheaval, and we have seen more clearly some of the harsh realities that shape our nation and our world.”

Throughout Holy Week, an interactive prayer wall was open to the public on the porch of the historic stone schoolhouse behind the church.

Each of the nearly 550 luminaries, which stretched from one side of the meetinghouse to the other via the cemetery, represented the deaths of 1,000 people in the United States and 5,018 people around the world due to COVID-19. The earliest known burials in the Salford cemetery were in 1740. Descendants of some buried there are active in the congregation today.

“We believe that houses of worship can play a role in facilitating a space for the community to grieve and recognize the deep pain of this time we are going through,” Yoder said. “It is especially meaningful to provide this invitation to process our personal losses and those of others during the week when we remember how our God suffered and is with those who are suffering.”

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