Churches have an important role to play in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Pastors can share accurate health and theological information that can help their congregants make informed decisions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
It is helpful to understand the specific concerns of your congregation and not the ones you hear about on the news or social media. This article on Rural Churches and COVID Vaccinations lists some of the questions they hear in rural areas and provides a link to the National Rural Health Association’s COVID vaccine toolkit.
This article from the NC Rural Center encourages The Church’s Prophetic Call to be used to address vaccine hesitancy. It points to the story of Naaman in the Bible and to a recent study that discovered that “one-third of the Protestant Christians who are very worried about the safety of the vaccine said they would be more likely to get the vaccine if their church encouraged them.”
Or maybe you would like to share this article from United Methodist Pastor Chris Yost who volunteered to pray with staff and patients at the COVID unit in his local hospital.
The UMC Connectional Table has named COVID-19 vaccination as a “missional priority.” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper just released a letter to faith leaders directing three steps to help end the pandemic. Use the resources below as you follow these steps and help to save lives.
Mobilize Vaccine Turnout Handbook
United Methodist Pastor Dana Horrell, Ph.D. has published a very informative and useful PDF handbook that you can download for free. Mobilize Vaccine Turnout includes lots of resources to aid pastors in getting their congregations’ vaccinated. It also includes detailed instructions on having conversations about the vaccine, how to hold surveys and focus groups, as well as success stories to keep you motivated.
Rev. Dr. Horrell is also available for webinars on vaccine access or hesitancy. There is much more information in the handbook. Read more about the handbook and its author in this article from United Methodist News.
Christians and the Vaccine
A free online resource, Christians and the Vaccine, is an excellent tool to share with your congregation that addresses concerns about the vaccine held by many Christians. You can share these videos on your church website, social media, in small groups, or from the pulpit. Consider inviting a local expert to share about COVID-19 in your community and offering a vaccine clinic.
At the website for Christians and the Vaccine, you will find many more video and text resources including a pastor’s toolkit. The videos on the site address questions such as:
- Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
- Is the COVID vaccine a form of government control?
- Is the COVID vaccine the “mark of the beast”?
- Should pro-lifers be pro-vaccine?
- Can Black Americans trust the COVID vaccine?
- And more
The website also includes video conversations with prominent Christian figures such as:
- Bishop Scott Jones of The United Methodist Church
- Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX
- Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health
- Rich Stearns, President Emeritus of World Vision
- And others
You will also find a FAQ section that provides short answers to common questions such as:
- Does taking the vaccine support abortion?
- Does trusting the vaccine mean distrusting God?
- What does Christianity have to do with the vaccine?
- Should I be concerned about long term side effects?
- How were the COVID vaccines made so quickly? Were corners cut?
- How were the vaccines tested for safety?
- And more
Who is behind Christians and the Vaccine?
From the website: Christians & the Vaccine is a project of Redeeming Babel in partnership with the National Association of Evangelicals, COVID Collaborative, the Ad Council, Values Partnerships and Public Square Strategies. Our goal is to equip pastors and Christian leaders to help others apply biblical principles to this topic. Based on these principles, we encourage Christians to take the vaccine.
The founder of Redeeming Babel and featured speaker of many of these videos is Curtis Chang. As a theologian, Curtis is on the consulting faculty of the Duke Divinity School and is a Senior Fellow at Fuller Theological Seminary. His ministry experience includes serving as a senior pastor of an Evangelical Covenant Church in California. He also has been a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and has done mission work in Soweto, South Africa. Curtis graduated from Harvard University and is a former Rockefeller Fellow.
Meharry Medical College Answers Vaccine Questions
Meharry Medical College is a historically Black medical school supported by the Black College Fund of The United Methodist Church. The school’s president and CEO, Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, answers questions about the vaccine in a number of videos on their website. This article by the United Methodist News Service explains that Dr. Hildreth “has been involved with COVID-19 vaccine development from the beginning. He serves on the Food and Drug Administration committee that reviews vaccines and recommends approval, and led several vaccine trials at Meharry. In February, he was named to the White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.” The videos on Meharry’s website cover topics such as:
- Transmission & masks
- Vaccine risks & trials
- Race, COVID-19 & vaccines
- Vaccine alternatives
- Lingering effects of the disease
- Mixed messages in the news
- And more
In this short video for spiritual leaders, Dr. Hildreth says “People are not going to take the vaccinations unless they hear from people they trust that they should do so.” He encourages spiritual leaders to educate themselves so that they can be comfortable recommending the vaccine.
Lumbee Pastors Recommend the Vaccine
The Lumbee Tribe has put out a video that features Lumbee pastors saying that they received the COVID vaccine and encouraging others to do so as well. They all say together, “This shot is your shield.” The video features several pastors in the NC Conference of The United Methodist Church.
On the Lumbee Tribe YouTube channel, you can find several more videos featuring Lumbee doctors and others encouraging their community to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
NC Conference Coronavirus Page
Remember that the NC Conference keeps a Coronavirus information page up-to-date with guidance for churches. It also includes links to information from health authorities on the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine.
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