Douglas County School System employees place pinwheels in front of the central office on Veterans Memorial Highway representing family and friends that died from COVID-19.

Community and religious leaders in the county reflected on the passing of loved ones due to COVID-19 on Wednesday during a Pinwheel Memorial Garden ceremony sponsored by the Douglas County School System.

DCSS employees and members of the community were invited to place a pinwheel on the front lawn of the building to remember a loved one or friend that died from the deadly virus.

Pastors Billy Godwin and Kevin McKoy gave remarks of hope and encouragement while Benjamin Lang offered a prayer during the 45-minute ceremony held at the new DCSS central office on Veterans Memorial Highway.

“We wanted to share our love with those that have lost a loved one because of COVID-19,” Superintendent Trent North said. “We want to also remember those that have survived COVID-19 but are still experiencing complications.”

As of Friday, 183 residents in the county had died from the virus over the last 15 months, according to the state Department of Public Health.

“This is a special time to remember those that have passed,” said Board of Education Chair Tracy Rookard, who lost her father-in-law to COVID-19. “We want the community to know that we support you. We want to make sure that our schools are safe and have support for them.”

Godwin, senior pastor at Ephesus Baptist Church, spoke from the Book of Psalm during his brief remarks.

“It is a time like this that we need a rock,” Godwin said. “Sand is being pushed all around us. I want you to know that there is a rock. David made a choice to trust in the Lord.”

McKoy, senior pastor at First Baptist Church Lithia Springs, also told those gathered on the lawn in front of the building to trust in the Lord.

“Regardless of their age or situation, we are never really ready to let them go,” he said. “I ask you to trust in the Lord.”

Lang, senior pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church, prayed for healing and guidance.

“As we grieve, I call on the God of comfort,” he said. “As we feel lonely, we are are not alone.”

Following the remarks, employees and others in the community placed yellow pinwheels in front of the building’s sign at the corner of Veterans Memorial Highway and Burnt Hickory Road.