This past year has been difficult for so many of our churches. I serve as the Pastor of the Federated Church in Colchester, Connecticut and we formed a Reopening Team in the early days of the pandemic to help see us through this crisis. We have done our best to abide by the health guidelines communicated by our local health district, the State of Connecticut, the CDC, and the SNEUCC.
With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, hope is certainly on the horizon! And our congregation here in Colchester has recently had the opportunity to become a COVID-19 vaccine clinic site. This came about because we are fortunate to have a church member who works for our local health district. As their staff considered local sites to offer pop-up vaccination clinics, her own church came to mind. Our church member reached out to our church’s leadership to see if it might be possible for us to host larger clinics than they were able to offer in other locations. Some of their considerations included: a convenient location in the town, ample parking for staff, volunteers, and those receiving their vaccines, handicap accessibility, and large enough spaces for registration, people receiving their shots, and an observation area to ensure people don’t have immediate adverse reactions. Our church also offered the added bonus of being able to have several rooms stay set up with tables and chairs so that the health district staff would not have to set up and break down the spaces each time they host a clinic.
Our church is 310+ years old and is the church on the Green. We pride ourselves on having opened our doors many times throughout our town’s history to welcome our community and serve the people of Colchester. We do our best to love our neighbors. Our church staff and Reopening Team didn’t hesitate to offer up our space to our local health district to utilize for vaccine clinics. 200 people were vaccinated at the first clinic and another 200 people will be vaccinated later in March. Some of those vaccinated even included our own church members. We anticipate that more clinics will be scheduled as needed in the future. And we are truly honored to play a small part in providing hope and healing for many. If your church has some of the characteristics outlined (convenient location, ample parking, handicap accessibility, several large rooms, and willing congregational leadership) you could reach out to your local health district and see if you could be of service as a COVID-19 vaccine clinic site in your community as well.
The Rev. Lauren Lorincz is Pastor of the Colchester Federated Church in Colchester, CT
This reflection can also be found on the Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ Blog
Photo by Nicole Hosford.