Black churches have formed national networks to fight pandemics with a sense of purpose that reflects their acceptance of civil rights issues. A working group in Florida led by black churches has linked guns to historically black colleges and universities and offered sanctuaries as vaccination sites. The Black Coalition Against Covid-19 issued guidelines for faith leaders with tips on pandemic and vaccination.
The Rev. Matthew L. Watley of the AME Church of the Kingdom Fellowship in Silver Spring, Md., Who shares vaccine information with communities across the country, bluntly confronts the black community’s deep suspicion of vaccines. He tells skeptics, “The ultimate conspiracy could be simply, ‘Wait until there’s a global pandemic that disproportionately affects African Americans and then convince them not to take the only medical intervention that has been shown to save lives.'”
At Shorter, Rev. Dr. Timothy Tyler spoke about vaccinations on his online services, participated in panels and posted his recordings on Facebook. Now, as UCHealth, the University of Colorado-affiliated health care system, sends the message that it will deliver 500 doses to Shorter on a Sunday, Church members are pressing the phones, persuading senior members, and providing transportation.
One last Sunday, after a tough year outside of church, Dr. Love back in Shorter to get vaccinated. She greeted Pew Mates, whom she had not seen in a long time. She knelt in front of the sanctuary’s altar and wept.
“I prayed for those who did not have the opportunity that I was blessed with and for a healing for our nation,” she said.
Then she went to the Church’s Omar D. Blair Fellowship Hall, named after a Tuskegee Airman who campaigned for civil rights. Here she had led scouting activities. Where the Church celebrated her husband after he died.
Now a new milestone.
She sat at a table to receive the shot, hoping it would free her from the pandemic and restore her to the community life she cherished.