T hey heard the call from Wayne Hewlett, pastor, as people were waiting socially distanced in the sanctuary. Community residents, nurses, first responders, teachers, and church members were in attendance for the COVID 19 vaccination clinic. The clinics were the efforts of the Port St. Lucie First and Macedonia Ft. Pierce district. The clinics provided first and second round vaccinations for those within the CDC guidelines and local and state policy. The district was seeking ways to fulfill the Southeastern standards for a mission-driven church. This vision encompasses spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word, and being a church in action. 1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” With volunteer nurses and doctors, who are members of the district churches, more than 500 people have been vaccinated, with a projection to reach 700. Many testimonies and stories have been shared with the church, and there have even been commitments from two for baptism.
The vision began with coordination between Hewlett and a member, local primary physician, Dwight Dawkins, M.D. Seeing the need in the church and local community, the logistics were worked out and the first vaccination clinic took place, with 78 people vaccinated. After the first clinic, leadership recognized a need to encourage and educate as many as could be reached about the vaccine. A live stream event, “To be or not to be vaccinated,” was broadcast to bring clarity and reliable information to the public. Oteni Hamilton, M.D., Dwight Dawkins, M.D., and Tiffany Minnis, N.P., with Hewlett as the moderator, led a well-informed question-and- answer session for the internet audience. With further coordination of local doctors and the local Crosstown Pharmacy, more vaccinations were secured and made available to those in the local area.
The impact the clinics have had on the community has been varied according to who you speak to. “This church has been a blessing to not only me, but my husband and my grandfather,” remarked a local teacher in the community. “He has tried to get the shot as far south as Ft. Lauderdale and has not been able. But, we were told by one of the church members that their church was giving vaccinations, and we just thanked God.” A worker at the local food bank, after receiving her vaccination, asked how she could become part of the team to help work the vaccination site. These and many more testimonies and thanks were expressed each week. These and all the many thanks are not for us, but they truly belong to God. Psalm 126:3 says, “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.”
How can other places of worship participate in social integration by becoming a vaccination clinic? Many of our members have a local family physician; these offices are registered on Florida shots and are given a member number. This number can be used to set up vaccine clinics in more than one location in their local area. Churches can coordinate with these local physicians and offer their facilities to accommodate the clinic. Another opportunity is to connect with your local health department and share with them your desire to accommodate a vaccine clinic. These clinics will yield a great opportunity to bring awareness to your local church location. In addition, those who come to receive the vaccination usually sign in with basic information of name, phone number, and email, which can be used to make connections for events that the church may have later.
is the pastor at Port St. Lucie First and Macedonia Ft. Pierce district churches.
Southeastern | July 2021