A Message Regarding COVID-19 from our Pastor
COVID-19 is a serious disease caused by a virus discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It is very contagious and has spread quickly around the world in an unprecedented fashion. When the virus began, it forced communities around the world, and specifically in the United States of America to implement stay-at-home orders to possibly slow the spread of the virus. During this period of quarantine, we witnessed the increase of all of kinds of mental health challenges among people. Since the beginning of this pandemic in late 2019, hundreds of thousands of people have died from COVID-19 or complications thereof.
We know that people with underlying health conditions or those of older age, have been more susceptible to severe health problems, hospitalization, and even death. African Americans and miniorities have been significantly affected by this virus as well. In 2020, our local congregation and most faith communities across the country were closed and subsequently implemented online/virtual worship services in order to remain connected to their parishioners.
COVID-19 has certainly forced our congregation into a new and unfamiliar territory. And this is not necessarily a bad thing because there’s utility in moving out of our comfort zones to tread a new path or experience that we have not gone before. Technology and digital platforms have emerged as significant tools and are being used in new ways in order to offer spiritual encouragement to those hurting and devastated by the virus and other current events.
One of the worst things about this virus is that it has been used for political purposes at the expense of the safety of people. People’s lives are important. Human beings were made in the image of God and after His likeness (Gen. 1:26-27; Ps. 100:3). We choose people over politics. Several conspiracy theories have circulated to discourage people from receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. As the pastor of a predominantly Black congregation, I am writing this message specifically to the members of my congregation out of genuine concern for the health and wellbeing of those I serve. My message, however, is applicable to all people. African Americans share a mistrust toward the U.S. government because of its historical and systemic racism toward people of color and miniorites and the oppression that has occurred against us.
The distrust that exists among us must be validated and affirmed. I am not asking African Americans to forget the past. I am asking us to sincerely educate ourselves regarding this virus so that we can live and avoid needless deaths within our community. I am asking us to do the right thing and get vaccinated so that we can protect ourselves, our loved ones, our elderly, and our most vulnerable neighbors. I am aware that there are theological debates surrounding COVID-19. I cannot list all of the arguments here as that is not the aim of this pastoral letter. I do not preach that COVID-19 vaccinations are the mark of the beast or that receiving a vaccine is causing a re-ordering of human DNA.
Vaccinations, by the grace of God, have been the solution to countless severe illnesses throughout world and U.S. history. Science has come a long way and continues to make major progress. It is my belief that science (not scientific naturalism) reveals the wisdom of God in the world and His endowment of the human family with gifts, rationality, and ingenuity.
I am encouraging the members of my congregation and all of those who will take the time to read this letter to consult with your medical provider. Take charge of your health. Ask robust questions about vaccinations. Visit local, state, and national websites to learn more about what you can do to help reduce the spread of this virus and to safeguard yourself from catching it. God does not want us to live in fear, but He does want us to live wisely and cautiously. He wants us to live with humble consideration for the others around us. The choice is yours. No one can force you to receive the vaccination, but it will be helpful in deciding whether or not you will get it if you have all of the accurate information available to you.
Let us continue to pray for our families and neighbors around the world, as we further navigate these uncertain times.
Dr. Devale A. Hodge, Pastor
After reading Pastor Hodge’s message regarding COVID-19, perhaps you feel compelled to take action. We want to help you in doing that. Please peruse the following resources:
Testing in Norwalk, CT: https://www.norwalkct.org/2312/COVID-19-Testing
State contracted Testing Providers:https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Covid-19-Knowledge-Base/COVID-19-Testing
All CT COVID-19 Testing Locations: https://www.211ct.org/search?page=1&location=Connecticut&taxonomy_code=11048&service_area=connecticut
To Learn more about COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html