Faith leaders encourage communities, congregations to take COVID-19 vaccine
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/OFFICE OF GOVERNOR ) – With concerns in the commonwealth and across the country about distributing vaccines equitably, Gov. Beshear is partnering with leaders of different faiths and denominations from throughout Kentucky to educate communities and address vaccine hesitancy on the front end.
About 50 faith leaders from throughout the commonwealth have received their vaccination in the Capitol rotunda in the last two weeks, according to the governor’s office.
They are encouraging others to take the vaccine to save lives, so children can safely return to in-person classes, and so more Kentuckians can safely return to in-person religious services.
More than 20 of those faith leaders who were in Frankfort on Thursday joined Gov. Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear to plant the latest American flags on the lawn of the state Capitol for the more than 3,800 Kentuckians lost to COVID.
“No one is more trusted in their communities than our faith leaders, who work every day to better the lives of those in their congregations and communities,” said Gov. Beshear. “Thank you to our faith leaders for again setting the example by rolling up their sleeves to get the vaccine and encouraging others to be vaccinated. They have a powerful voice and platform, and I appreciate them using it.”
The Governor said the supply from the federal government remains limited and that is a barrier to vaccinating more Kentuckians more quickly, but he continues to push for more doses and to establish more sites and programs to speed up vaccinations as more doses arrive in the commonwealth.
“We want every Kentuckian to take the vaccine so our children can get in the classroom safely, so my family and others can return to in-person services and so we can reignite our economy,” Gov. Beshear said.
Faith leaders who participated in the vaccination said:
Rev. Dr. Kevin W. Cosby, Senior Pastor at St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville and President of Simmons College of Kentucky
“My faith teaches me that God works through both prayer and pills … meditation and medication. In the middle of the word ‘life’ is the word ‘if.’ We can save lives if we are united in getting everyone vaccinated.”
Rev. Robert Fox Jr., Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Kentucky
“I join with clergy from a variety of denomination traditions encouraging everyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. As people of faith, it is important that we take advantage of this scientifically validated solution to the global pandemic not just for our own well-being, but for the protection of others.”
Rev. Dr. Charisse L. Gillett, President of Lexington Theological Seminary
“This vaccine is a step towards reclaiming our lives as individuals and as a community. It is a moral imperative that when one is able to do so, one should take the vaccine.”
Rev. Dr. Donald K. Gillett II, Executive Director, Kentucky Council of Churches
“I believe that the opportunity to take the vaccine is not only a biblical mandate in expressing love for one’s neighbor but as African-American pastors it is vital that we do so. We must not let our historical and current legitimate concerns about the medical treatment of the African-American community impede us from taking this vaccine.”
Rev. Dr. Angela Johnson, Pastor of Grace Hope Presbyterian Church in Louisville and immediate past moderator of the 50 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, Presbyterian Church USA
“I am grateful for this opportunity to witness to my community that the vaccine is safe and effective. Presbyterians trust that God works in all things for good. I celebrate the good that God is bringing through the COVID-19 vaccine. It is one giant step toward ending the pain and suffering of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, Chabad of the Bluegrass, Lexington
“The Lubavitcher Rebbe, the foremost leader of world Judaism in the modern era, when asked about medical advice would often say you should speak to a doctor who is a friend. The Rebbe pointed out that trust is an integral part of the medical process. Today, we’re working with the Governor to inspire that trust in the community, so I got my vaccine. I hope you get yours and trust the process, believe in your community, and together we can get through this.”
Rev. Philip Lotspeich, General Presbyter, Transylvania Presbytery
“Having this vaccine available is a game changer for our churches. We’ve practiced loving our neighbors by wearing masks, social distancing and worshipping online. Now we can take the next step of showing love both to our neighbors and ourselves by getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available to us. By showing our love in this way, we make a bold statement about what it means to follow Jesus and live in community. Our hope is that we can soon gather again for worship and fellowship, boldly but safely.”
Rev. Dr. Anthony Middleton, Pastor at Cable Baptist Church, Louisville
“I believe it is more than fitting to think positively about taking the COVID vaccination, especially during Black History Month. We should think history and health, for it is good health which helps enable us to have a stronger history. I’m taking the shot because history and health are important to me.”
Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, President and Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency
“I am grateful to Gov. Beshear’s office for this opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. I hope everyone will consider getting the vaccination, especially those in the BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) community who, given the history in our nation regarding ‘medical experiments’ done on people of color may be hesitant. I trust what we are being told about the vaccine. I believe being vaccinated is an important step in ending the suffering of so many in our nation and world.”
The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
“This pandemic has impacted every corner of our lives in the past year and there is still so much work to do. Gov. Beshear has led the way to keep Kentucky citizens safe and healthy. We appreciate his continued leadership by working to make the vaccine available to everyone. If we are to gain control over this virus, it is important that all Kentuckians take the necessary steps to get vaccinated. It is safe and it will make a difference in months to come.”
Rev. Dean Phelps, Transitional General Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky
“Our pastors have worked exceptionally hard during this pandemic. Receiving the vaccine honors their dedication. I hope this helps us to be, in some small part, an answer to the prayers we pray.”
Rev. Dr. Deborah Phelps, Minister at New Union Christian Church, Versailles
“I’m humbled and grateful beyond words to be able to receive this vaccine, knowing it comes from the sacrifices of so many people working together to get this deadly pandemic under control. In addition to being a pastor, I also have a background in medical microbiology and know what could happen. Receiving this vaccine is my commitment to help with this fight. As I go from here, I hope to express my gratitude through my example, encouragement and efforts to help us all see this fight through to the finish.”
Rev. Dr. Frank M. Smith Jr., Founding Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church for Our Community and Executive Vice President and Special Assistant to the President at Simmons College of Kentucky
“I am grateful to have a Governor who considered the unique work of the reverend clergy by offering us the opportunity to be an example to those we serve by receiving the Moderna vaccine. My shot was virtually pain-free, was given in a most professional manner, and I have felt well since receiving the first dose. Thank you to our Governor and his administration for serving us as we serve others. Mask up Kentucky, and when your opportunity comes to be vaccinated, please do so. May God bless you.”
Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., Catholic Diocese of Lexington
“I just received my vaccination for COVID-19 and hope all of our faithful will do the same. This promotes the common good and helps us to promote a healthier Kentucky. Gov. Beshear has done a wonderful job in leading our community to think about each other. He has personalized the many losses that our state has experienced through COVID and is trying to keep us on one team in one place as one community to make our state, our commonwealth, more healthy and to overcome this terrible challenge.”
The Rt. Rev. Mark Van Koevering, VIII Bishop of Lexington, The Episcopal Diocese of Lexington
“As leaders of faith communities, we want to encourage all to receive the vaccine as a mark of love for our neighbors. A strange gesture in strange times, but an effective one nonetheless.”
Rev. Dr. F. Bruce Williams, Senior Pastor at Bates Memorial Baptist Church, Louisville
“Gov. Beshear should be commended for the marvelous job he is doing shepherding the state through this horrendous pandemic. I have had the privilege of receiving the vaccine and I encourage my congregation at Bates Memorial Baptist and indeed all Kentuckians to take advantage of the vaccine. If you are hesitant to do it for yourself, then do it for those whom you love who may be particularly susceptible to the virus. We will beat this virus and come out facing a new normal and a bright future!”