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A Time for Angels goes virtual

-Messenger file photo
Rob Gunderson lights candles in memory of lost loved ones during the A Time for Angels service of remembrance at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in December 2019. This year's service will be virtual.

Christmastime can feel lonely after the death of a loved one. Grief doesn’t have a timeline and doesn’t care if the rest of the world has turned to the jolly holiday season.

To help those grieving cope with that loss and loneliness and to honor the memories of those lost, Gunderson Funeral Home hosts A Time for Angels, an annual service for area families to mourn and remember loved ones they’ve lost over the past year. This year would have been the 22nd year of the service, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the funeral home to find an alternative way to hold the service.

The A Time for Angels service video will go live at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at youtu.be/r1Z52aAQaYE. It will be posted on the Gunderson Funeral Home website, www.gundersonfuneralhome.com, shortly after.

Owner Phil Gunderson said the event has changed and grown since it first started 22 years ago.

“We did this so that people would remember that they are not alone and the angels have always been a great symbol and significance the Christmas season,” he said.

-Submitted photo
The 2020 A Time for Angels keepsake is handmade by local artist Chris Jondle.

The service will feature sermon messages by the Rev. Emily Sauer, pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, and the Rev. Brian Feller, of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. After the messages, Gunderson staff will read the names of lost loved ones from over the past year — those whose families were served by Gunderson and those who were submitted by other families from the area.

“The messages are very good,” Gunderson said. “We’re very much disappointed that we cannot do what we’ve done in the past, but we’re looking forward to providing a service that will help people stay safe at home.”

By moving the service to a virtual platform, it not only means that there won’t have to be a large gathering of people indoors at a time where COVID-19 activity is high in the community, but it allows those who may not have been able to make it because of quarantine or isolation or other reasons to be able to enjoy the service as well.

Along with the memorial service, Gunderson Funeral Home staff hand out handmade angel keepsake ornaments, which are designed and handcrafted by local artist Chris Jondle with a new color and design every year.

The funeral home has angels for families who have been served by Gunderson Funeral Home over the past 12 months and will also have plenty available for purchase for $15 at the funeral home.

-Messenger file photo
Guests hold illuminated electric votive candles during the A Time for Angels service of remembrance at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in December 2019. This year's service will be held online.

Some visitors come to the service year after year to purchase each year’s angels, Gunderson said.

“We have people who have collected the angels, some from the very, very beginning,” he said.

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