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DYK - Do Good

Posted: May 26 2021 at 02:02 PM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson


Can an annual conference launch a massive initiative in 10 days? I'm glad to report that the answer is yes! 

For 14 months, the mantra of the United Methodist Churches in Northern Illinois has been "Do No Harm." As we contemplated every step in our ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have done so with an eye toward keeping each other and our communities safe by stopping the spread of disease. 

Almost as quickly as we pivoted into virtual ministry, we are now moving back into in-person life. The mantra of "Do No Harm" will always be part of our mission, but today we are also asked to actively "Do Good." 

In early May, the Illinois Department of Health contacted us. They're charged with getting as many shots in arms as possible before the State of Illinois moves to Phase 5. Their Faith Community Outreach Coordinator, an African Methodist Episcopal pastor, Rev. Garry Mitchell, quickly realized that the largest religious protestant body across the state is the United Methodist Church. We have almost as many United Methodist Churches in the state as there are post offices. Between the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and the Northern Illinois Conference, we blanket rural, urban and suburban communities from the Wisconsin border to Iowa, Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky. 

A few weeks ago, a small group of clergy and laity came together to think through the initiative (via ZOOM, of course). We met our counterparts in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, and soon, I was meeting daily with Rev. Curtis Brown, the Director of Connectional Ministries to our south. 

To date, we have almost 100 churches signed up to host vaccination sites, and we have overwhelmed the Illinois Department of Health. Little did they realize what they were asking when they approached the UMC! They are overjoyed by the response and have shifted additional coordinators to this project. The goal was to run an intensive campaign the last week of the month from May 30 to June 6, but we will now spread out that effort well into June. 

Being a vaccination site is not the only way you can support this effort. Those who cannot host can also be ambassadors to "Do Good." We have distributed materials to all our Illinois churches via the eNews and our website, almost 1,200 strong, asking you to encourage vaccinations in your area. 

When contacting churches to be host sites, we heard that many of our congregations have a high percentage of members now vaccinated. Still, we know there are pockets of people in every community who have not yet taken this step. For many reasons: fear, confusion, access, hesitation, or language barriers, these are people to whom we can offer an encouraging word or help guide to a vaccination site. 

Check out the web, video and social media resources you can use to "Do Good"!

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