Grosse Pointe church's white flag display honors Michigan COVID-19 victims

Thousands of white flags line the lawn of a church in Grosse Pointe to honor the thousands of Michiganders who have lost their lives to COVID-19

The tribute is at Christ Church on Grosse Pointe Boulevard, near Fisher Road. As of Monday afternoon, 7,640 deaths in Michigan related to COVID-19 have been reported. 

"We wanted to mark one flag for everyone who has died within Michigan," said Father Drew Van Culin. "We wanted to share with our community a visible reminder to give some scope to the magnitude of this pandemic for our local community."

They started placing the flags on the lawn to coincide with All Saints' Day on Nov. 1, a time to remember those lost. The reverend is grateful to all who came out to plant a flag and say a prayer.

He says plans are being discussed to plant trees for a living memorial here, but for now the white flags will be there. And, sadly, the church knows the memorial will continue to grow. 

"It is tragic that we have to order more flags. Those flags have already been ordered because we know the numbers are tragically going up," Rev. Van Culin said. 

The reverend says the memorial has sparked meaningful conversations in the community and raised awareness that no one is immune.

"Churches in general and Episcopal churches, in particular, have older congregations so we have been mindful of that since the outbreak," he said. 

As the weather cools and we head into what health officials call a very dangerous time in the coronavirus crisis, the church will now be returning to virtual services after having spent the fall worshipping outside as they encourage everyone to make safe decisions not just for themselves but for others.

"As a Christian community, our first commitment is to love our neighbor and if that means we wear a mask out of love for one another - amen - let's wear a mask."