Black church leaders hope to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines

Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 9:28 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Promote it and they will show up.

Crowds recently attracted to Bank of America Stadium during two weekends, when Atrium Health and Tepper Sports transformed the home of the Carolina Panthers into a haven for COVID-19 shots.

By the thousands, they responded, but this NFL stadium site wasn’t the only place serving those in need.

Dr. Ricky Woods of First Baptist West is among local ministers behind an effort sponsored by African American churches choosing to turn their places of worship into clinics of outreach.

“What a better time than in a pandemic for the church to step up to the plate,” Woods said.

Early numbers exceeded initial expectations at local congregations.

“We’re over 6,000 shots in arms since we started this program,” Woods told WBTV. “That’s all African American with the exception of one mosque.”

Back in January, C.N. Jenkins Presbyterian on Statesville Avenue opened its doors and parking lot to individuals seeking shots.

This coming Friday, C.N. Jenkins will partner with its nearby neighbor Our Lady of Consolation.

Ron Berry is one of the event’s organizers.

“You’ve got people you know that need every bit of help you can give, and you’re a church and that’s what churches do,” Berry said.

However, there is perhaps another reason connected to delivering COVID-19 vaccines, and that is bridging a wide racial divide.

In the past, we’ve reported more than 80 percent of the doses here in Mecklenburg County have gone to whites.

However, African American congregations are now stepping up with the goal of reducing the number of pandemic related deaths in black and brown communities.

“I’m hoping that’s gonna be the case. It will be. We’ve just got to stay at it, and not feel that we’re through the calamity we’re in the middle of,” Berry said.

Dr. Woods agrees and says vaccines must also be targeted at other ethnic group that are too often marginalized.

“We are now reaching out to the immigrant community to get a site done at a Vietnamese community, We’ve been working with our Latin X and Hispanic brothers and sisters,” according to Woods.

In recent weeks more than 300 vaccines were delivered through an outreach program at an African American church in Cleveland County.

Pastor Woods also tells us new sites are being considered in Union and Anson Counties.

Friday’s event runs from 8:00 until 2:30 at CN Jenkins Presbyterian which is located at 1421 Statesville Avenue.

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