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PC(USA) leadership takes part in COVID-19 vaccination effort

Presbyterians are encouraged to get vaccinated, an ‘important step in ending the suffering of so many in our nation and world’

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

After receiving her vaccination Thursday, the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, planted flags on the Capitol grounds to honor Kentuckians who have died from the coronavirus. (Photo by Gail Strange)

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, and about 20 other faith leaders were in the Rotunda at the state Capitol Building in Frankfurt, Kentucky on Thursday to receive their vaccination against COVID-19 and encourage others in their faith communities to do the same when it’s their turn.

“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,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news release. “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 Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), receives his vaccination against COVID-19 on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Governor’s office)

“This pandemic has impacted every corner of our lives in the past year and there is still so much work to do,” said Nelson, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “If we are to gain control over this virus, it is important that all Kentuckians and Presbyterians take the necessary steps to get vaccinated. It is safe and it will make a difference in months to come.”

“From the beginning,” Nelson added, “this denomination has stood firm on the need for our congregations and ministers to be safe and during this time, we’ve found new ways to reach out and connect with our members and communities. Churches have an opportunity to continue that outreach by encouraging people to take the necessary steps to combat this virus for themselves, for their families and for their neighbors.”

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, receives her COVID-19 vaccination Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Governor’s office)

“I am grateful to Gov. Beshear’s office for this opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccination,” said Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “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,” Moffett said. “I believe being vaccinated is an important step in ending the suffering of so many in our nation and world.”

Other Presbyterian leaders to be vaccinated Thursday included the Rev. Philip Lotspeich, general presbyter of the Presbytery of Transylvania, and the Rev. Dr. Angela Johnson, pastor of Grace Hope Presbyterian Church in Louisville and, until recently, the moderator of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to witness to my community that the vaccine is safe and effective,” Johnson said. “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.”

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), plants a flag on the grounds of the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfurt after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination Thursday. (Photo by Gail Strange)

According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, as of Feb. 4 there were more than 104 million cases and 2.27 million deaths as a result of COVID-19 worldwide. The United States reports nearly 30 million total cases and more than 450,000 deaths of individuals infected with the virus.

Infectious disease experts stress the key to reducing the number of individuals infected and deaths from COVID-19 is getting people vaccinated with one of the vaccines developed by one of two approved to date by the government, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. Vaccines developed by other pharmaceutical firms, including Johnson & Johnson, await government approval following extensive clinical trials.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. But a recent Monmouth University poll reports “a bare majority of the public is ready to get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as it is available to them, while others take a wait-and-see attitude and a sizable 1 in 4 say they will avoid getting the vaccine at all if they can help it.”

“Half (50%) of the public plans to get the COVID vaccine as soon as they are allowed. Those willing to be at the front of the line represent a majority of American adults when combined with the 6% who report already receiving the vaccine. Another 19% say they would prefer to let other people get it first to see how it goes. However, 24% say it is likely they will never get the vaccine if they can avoid it,” the university reported.

Kandie Adkinson of the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office rings a bell in the Capitol Rotunda to remember those who have died of the coronavirus. (Photo by Gail Strange)

In a poignant moment before the vaccinations were administered in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, Kandie Adkinson, who works in the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office, greeted guests and proceeded to ring a bell 120 times, representing every county in the state and remembering those who have lost their lives to the virus. During the work week, Adkinson honors those in the state who have died from COVID-19 every morning at 10 o’clock by tolling the bell.

After all were vaccinated, Nelson, Moffett and the other faith leaders joined the governor and Kentucky’s first lady, Britainy Beshear, on the Capitol grounds to plant American flags to honor the more than 4,000 Kentuckians who have lost their lives to COVID-19.


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