At the advent of the COVID-19 lockdown, the faith community of Marion rallied around Marion General Hospital (MGH). Initially, surrounding churches delivered items of appreciation for the health care workers, including cards, snacks and even meals. One pastor and family created murals and messages of encouragement, drawn in chalk on the sidewalk entrances to MGH.
During Holy Week and concluding on Easter evening, the churches banded together to have a week-long prayer vigil for MGH, all the patients and the nation. Austin Everson of Life Community Church met with MGH Chaplain Jeff Horsman to organize the event. Each night, the faith community gathered in the main parking lot of MGH for the hour-long vigil. In order to maintain social distancing, participants remained in their vehicles in the hospital parking lot. Pastors from different churches opened and closed the meeting in prayer. Prayer guides and focus scripture verses were distributed via Facebook to assist each person in their prayers. Worship music was played during the time of prayer. The vigil was presented over Facebook live so that those who were sheltering in their homes could still take part. After the concluding prayer, all participants put on the emergency flashers in their vehicles and honked their horns to signal their support for MGH and the community.
The hospital staff was emotionally moved by the vigil and the outpouring of support. Many came to the windows of the hospital or stood at the front doors to witness the vigil. The encouragement influenced many to step away from fear and hold firm to their faith as they began to face the unknown battle.