Since the beginning of the coronavirus vaccine roll-out, our national Member Churches have played their part in supporting this national health initiative.
Buildings have been turned into vaccination hubs; worshippers have donned hi-vis vests to become volunteer marshals; church leaders have used their voices as Covid-19 vaccine ambassadors.
Last weekend the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, visited a pop-up vaccination centre at Jesus House in London, part of the Redeemed Church of God (pictured above). HRH The Prince of Wales also visited the church’s centre on 9 March. The church and denomination is led by Pastor Agu Irukwu, CTE’s Pentecostal President who said “We are grateful to God that at a time like this, His church can be salt and light, a beacon of hope in the nation.”
Ecumenical groups, such as Churches Together in South London, have issued joint statements encouraging uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine as the best way to control the pandemic and save lives (see South London’s image to the right).
And individual church leaders have given encouragement. The Anglican Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin said: “When you are offered the Covid vaccine, please take it. This is our chance to show we care for ourselves and our neighbours. Don’t let misinformation rob you of your opportunity to protect yourself and others.”
Rev Dr Joe Aldred from the National Church Leaders Forum (and a former CTE staff member) said “The vaccines are the best way to protect ourselves from Covid and offer a way out of the pandemic. Most importantly, they are safe. I’ve had mind and I urge you to get yours when you are invited to.”
Many of our national Member Churches have hosted webinars providing an opportunity for medical experts to answer questions and debunk many of the myths that have exacerbated vaccine hesitancy. This includes the Church of God of Prophecy two-part webinar, co-hosted by CTE’s newest staff member Shermara Fletcher, Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural Relations.
Shermara said of the webinars: “They provided a great platform to demystify the vaccine, its medical purpose and processes, whilst giving the opportunity to listen and legitimise genuine concerns about the vaccine from a socio-political, theological, economical, and cultural perspective. The webinars also highlighted the need in this pandemic to focus on the nation’s health from a holistic perspective, and areas such as mental health and health inequalities became a key topic of conversation and opportunity for action.”
CTE itself also hosted two webinars in support of the vaccine programme. As well as question and answer sessions with medical experts, they provided the opportunity for church leaders across traditions to put the vaccine programme in a theological context.
In our first webinar on 18 February, Bishop of Woolwich Karowei Dorgu said “when we take the vaccine we help stop the NHS from reaching breaking point.” And in our second on 25 February, Rt Rev Michael Beasley, one of CTE’s Trustees, explained: “Tomorrow I’m going for my jab. Why do I have confidence? The reason I’m confident of the process being used is that it is so rigorous.”
Supporting Covid-19 vaccinations is just the latest aspect of how our Member Churches have been active in their communities during the pandemic. Over the next couple of weeks, as we approach the one year anniversary of the first national lockdown and of #PrayersOfHope, we will be reflecting on their contributions.