Woodstock church will hold online memorial service for COVID-19 victims

(L-R) Parishioner and artist Julia Santos-Solomon and the Rev. Sonja Maclary. (Photos by Dion Ogust)

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the loss of a loved one more traumatic and challenging than usual because social-distancing precautions prohibit traditional funeral services and derail the natural grieving process. An online memorial service through Christ’s Lutheran Church in Woodstock will help with the healing process.

“The ability to hold a wake, to hold a funeral service, to hold a funeral luncheon, they have all been cut off. And yet the grief remains,” Rev. Sonja Maclary said.


Funerals are largely off-limits, so families have indefinitely delayed funerals or memorials, opted for gatherings of close family members or streamed services online.

A service will be held on the church’s social media page, facebook.com/ChristWoodstock on June 30 at 7 p.m. It is part of a project called “In Memoriam,” featuring a mural in the parish hall and crosses on the church lawn designed by parishioner Julia Santos-Solomon, who lost four family members to COVID-19.

“We’ve also had members of the congregation who have experienced death in the family and have not been able to gather,” Maclary said.

The interior of Christ’s Lutheran Church in Woodstock.

A view of the church’s front.

“It’s an awareness of the grief and the inability to grieve as we normally do. This is our small way of remembering and honoring and giving thanks for the life of those who died.”

The June 30 service is the prayerful part, Maclary said.

The community is invited to submit names of loved ones who died and they will be honored in the service and added to the crosses on the front lawn.

“Folks walking by will remember and have an opportunity to pray, give thanks, reflect and grieve,” Maclary said.

Church membership is not necessary to submit names to beacon@christwoodstock.org by noon on June 30 for inclusion in the service. Names will be added to the crosses at 26 Mill Hill Road after the service as they are received.

To date, 122,000 people have been lost to COVID-19 in the United States, more than double the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War.

Maclary said it is important to acknowledge the death rate from COVID-19 is much higher in minority communities.

“We believe we are united as one in the body of Christ,” Maclary said.

“Unity is very central. When one part of us hurts, we all hurt. Right now, it’s important we all recognize that pain and grieve together.”