Churches Hosting Vaccination Clinics as Community Outreach
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By LORETTA FULTON
Several Abilene churches are expanding their community outreach by offering COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
On Wednesday, Aug. 18, University Church of Christ added free vaccinations to its list of offerings during its annual back-to-school block party. Three other Church of Christ congregations also are providing vaccinations–Oldham Lane, Minda Street, and Highland.
Halfway through the three-hour clinic at University Church of Christ, 18 people had gotten a shot, which was pleasing to the people hosting the clinic. Bradley Steele, lead minister at the church, said the idea was well received as soon as it was mentioned.
“Everybody immediately got behind it,” Steele said. “It’s been very encouraging for us.”
The vaccination clinic was manned by health care providers who are members of the church and was supervised by health care professionals from the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District. Volunteers from the United Way assisted with registration.
Among the people taking advantage of the opportunity were Jesslyn and Zach Davis, who both got a vaccination while their daughters, Raylee,7, and Charlee, 8, waited patiently. The family lives in the Wylie area, and University Church of Christ is located on E.N. 16th Street. But the drive was worth it because of when the clinic was held and because it was at a church.
“I knew it wouldn’t be as busy,” Jesslyn said.
University Church of Christ will offer more vaccination clinics in the future if needed, Steele, the minister, said. The church is adjacent to the Abilene Christian University campus, and during the school year a free meal is served at 5:45 p.m. each Wednesday, with worship afterward. Future clinics would be held in conjunction with those Wednesday evening activities.
The ministers of the four churches all agreed that offering the clinics was a good way to serve the community. Ian Nickerson, evangelist at Minda Street Church of Christ, said his church, 701 Minda St., hosted a clinic on Aug. 8 and will have another on Aug. 29. The clinic will be open 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Following the Aug. 8 service, Dr. Annie Drachenberg provided information about the vaccine and conducted a Q&A. Several members of the congregation and people from the community got the shots after her presentation.
Nickerson, the minister, said the church strives to be sensitive to community needs. All the congregational leaders of the church are vaccinated, Nickerson said, and having a physician explain the vaccine and possible side effects hopefully convinced others of its safety.
“We wanted to supply credible information from a local doctor,” Nickerson said, “and easy access to our congregants and our community.”
Chris McCurley, preaching minister at Oldham Lane Church of Christ, said the church hosted a clinic Aug. 18 and another one is scheduled in three weeks, probably Wednesday, Sept. 8. The church is located at 5049 Oldham Lane.
“We had no agenda other than making the vaccine available to our church and anyone in our community who wanted to take it,” McCurley said.
Highland Church of Christ hosted a clinic for the neighborhood earlier in the summer and may schedule another one, said Shane Hughes, preaching minister. The church is located at 425 Highland Ave.
“We see hosting opportunities like a vaccine clinic as a way to serve our community,” Hughes said. “We value our partnership with our city and Hendrick Health to provide access to resources for people in our neighborhood whose work hours, transportation access and schedule was an obstacle in the past.”
Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene