UK’s black majority churches unite in support of Covid-19 vaccine rollout

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  • On Sunday 60 black majority church leaders issued a joint statement in support of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout
  • Jesus House church in Brent Cross, north London opens as a pop-up vaccination site in March 
  • The interdenominational initiative comes as a third of UK adults have received the first dose of the vaccine and follows a series of church-led Covid vaccine Q&A events and talks

60 of the UK’s black majority churches came together to deliver a powerful message about the Covid-19 vaccine to their congregations. 

Black church leaders from across the country, some of whom have already had the jab, have joined forces to publicly demonstrate their support of the Covid-19 vaccine.

They said: “We support the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine programme, and we urge our congregations to seek out the facts about the vaccine from trusted sources. Faith in God demands action, so when it is my turn, I’ll be having my Covid-19 vaccine/I have already had my Covid-19 vaccine.”

The alliance of Christian leaders, which includes Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop Tedroy Powell, Reverend Canon Yemi Adedeji, Bishop Mike Royal,  Reverend Yinka Oyekan and Bishop Dexter Edmund will encourage their members to seek information about the vaccine from reputable sources and underscore how getting the vaccine is a way to show love for their neighbours.

The Christian leaders felt compelled to inspire hope in the vaccine among their communities in response to data that shows black people are among those most likely to be hesitant about receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

This particular demonstration of support follows a series of online Q&A events and outreach work by majority-black church leaders to dispel misinformation and ensure their members get the facts about the vaccine.

Pastor Agu Irukwu, Pastor of Jesus House and head of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the UK, is hopeful that by sharing his confidence in the vaccine, members of his congregation will take it when they are invited to do so.

He has volunteered the use of Jesus House as a pop-up vaccination site. Members of the church and people within the local community will be able to come along to the church in March to receive their Covid jab.

Pastor Agu said: “We are committed to doing the best we can in bringing reassurance about the Covid-19 vaccine to our congregation and the wider community. We hope that having the church as a vaccination site will go some way in doing just that.”

On Thursday 25 February, Emmanuel Community Church International in Walthamstow, became the first black majority church to open its doors as a pop-up vaccination site. 

Rev Doug Williams, pastor Emmanuel Community Church International, who has had the vaccine,

said: “As a church, we cannot dictate the choice our congregants make but we were happy to support a borough-wide initiative in Waltham Forest to encourage residents, especially black and Asian community members, to receive the vaccination. 

For the church leaders involved in this synchronised action, the connection between taking the vaccine and Christian values is clear. 

Rt Revd Dr Woyin Karowei Dorgu, Bishop of Woolwich, said: “I believe it’s in keeping with God’s Word for us to love our neighbour as ourselves, as our Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 22:39, because in taking the vaccine we not only protect ourselves but our family and friends and we also save the NHS. I had my vaccine when I was invited to do so a few weeks ago and I prayerfully advise everyone to do the same for the Love of God and neighbour.” 

Pastor Ian Sweeney

This most recent initiative has been organised by Christian umbrella organisations Churches Together in England, Evangelical Alliance and YourNeighbour.

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