One of the nation's most prominent megachurches will host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic after a Sunday morning service this month to allow members of the church and surrounding community to get vaccinated.
The May 16 event sponsored by First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, will take place as polling shows 45 percent of white evangelicals say they won't or probably won't get the vaccine. White evangelicals are the religious demographic most skeptical of the vaccine, according to Pew.
Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor of First Baptist in Dallas, has endorsed the vaccine and has argued it's the quickest and easiest way for churches to meet again at full capacity.
"Dr. Jeffress, using CDC data, urges Christians who are fearful of COVID-19 to get the vaccine because it is nearly 100 percent effective and is the best way for churches to fully open," the First Baptist website says.
Ben Lovvorn, the church's executive pastor, recently told members during a service that the church is "not pressuring anyone to get the vaccine."
"But if you're one of those who desires to get the vaccine and you just haven't had the opportunity to do that yet, you will have the opportunity to do that here," Lovvorn said.
The vaccine clinic will be held following the May 16 Sunday morning service. Jeffress and Lovvorn have been vaccinated.
"We are doing that for you, and we are doing that for our community," Lovvorn said. "We're inviting other churches to participate in that as well."
The clinic will administer the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses. A second clinic will be hosted at the church on June 13.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins invited First Baptist to host the clinic, the church says. It is part of a city-wide effort to deliver the vaccine to communities that are hesitant to take it.
"That may change minds," Jenkins told the Dallas Morning News. "We're just trying to get to every community. ... What we can all identify is that we're stronger together. We all need to do our patriotic duty and get the vaccine."
Photo courtesy: ©First Baptist Dallas Church Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.