We come to you with another update about Clergy and COVID-19 Vaccinations, with the hope that the information we provide helps.

And we know this process has not been clear. Much is beyond our control, like so many things during these pandemics. But we do have choices. We may not have all of the choices, but we do have some choices. We are not giving you answers, but the information we have, so you can make faithful decisions for your ministry and your witness. 

We anticipate that there will be more changes, more updates, and more confusion. This process is largely outside of our control. And we remind you, if you would like to advocate for a different status for clergy, or a more just process for all, please advocate to the Baker/Polito COVID-19 Advisory Board. Information on how to do so is in the our first update issued last week. 

We know clear communication helps when so much is uncertain. And we won't offer  answers that we do not have. We have to live with so much uncertainty in these times. 

Below, in the news update on our website and on our social media we've shared the most recent update on Clergy and COVID-19 vaccination protocols. As always, you can check the state website onTuesdays and Thursdays after 5pm for any new updates on vaccination protocols. 

 Again, MCC staff has been working on clarifying the status of clergy for weeks with the state and in coordination with interfaith partners and the heads of MCC member denominations. Given the very different roles clergy play in various parts of the Church and the vastly different experiences of medical discrimination or care, it is not surprising that the Church is not of one mind about vaccinations. Where there is not consensus, we've offered our counsel. We also promise to update you with any future changes. 

with hope,

Rev. Carrington Moore, Rev. Kenneth Young, and Rev.  Laura Everett

PS - We are grateful that so many of you find these resources helpful. Thank you. We can only continue to be a wide-ranging and trustworthy source of information and faithful counsel with your support. If you are grateful for Mass. Council of Churches' work on issues as wide ranging as vaccination and hate-crimes, bi-vocational clergy, and food-insecurity, please become a monthly contributor to the Massachusetts Council of Churches.  
Second Update:
This update is also available as a 1-page PDF on our website here for easy sharing.

January 27, 2021:  Second Update on CLERGY AND COVID-19 VACCINATIONS  

January 21, 2021: First Update from Massachusetts Council of Churches on Clergy and COVID-19 Vaccinations

The Massachusetts Council of Churches core values commit us to delight, excellence, diversity, relationships and gratitude. During the pandemics, we’ve been particularly aware of the need for equity in all of our work, especially through the work of the One Church Fund. We believe access to information is an issue of equity.  And, there has been unequal access to information and resources throughout COVID-19 because of racism, classism, sexism, and geographic privileging.  We may be in the same storm, but not everyone has the same boat. Some have been left adrift without trustworthy maps, enough life vests, or sufficient food while others can ride out the storm in far safer boats with greater access to life-saving supplies. As Christians, we trust Jesus Christ to always be at the helm, and yet it is incumbent upon us all to see, name, and act faithfully upon our very different situations.

According to the current Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Timeline (as of 1/27/21 2:00 pm), clergy are only mentioned as a distinct category in one place in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine guidelines: at the end of Phase 1 as “Health care workers doing non-COVID-facing care.” We confirmed this again this week with our contacts in state government. If you disagree with status, you are strongly encouraged to advocate to the Baker/Polito Administration COVID-19 Advisory Committee at COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-MA@mass.gov for a different status in the process outlined in the first update.  Thus, according to the state’s guidelines, clergy are only eligible for vaccination at this time if they are “members of the clergy (if working in patient-facing roles),” employed by nursing homes, prisons, jails, hospitals, long-term care facilities or other congregate care settings.

Given that there has been information shared to some clergy but not all, we want to share the information below with you, even though it is outside of the official state protocols for clergy vaccination. The Massachusetts Council of Churches is not endorsing this route. But the information is available in some spaces. We believe access to information is an issue of equity, as each clergy person makes their own faithful decision in discernment with their family, their community, their Church, their tradition, their personal ethics, their sense of trust in the health care system, historic inequality and many other concerns. We also need to name that the vaccines for clergy through Steward will privilege some clergy over others, particularly those on the Eastern half of the state, those who can drive and have the flexibility to travel, those who can easily and quickly take time off to go for a vaccination without caregiving responsibilities, and those who already trust the health care system to serve them safely.

Outside of the state’s guidelines, the nation’s largest private, for-profit provider Steward Health Care system is offering vaccines to Massachusetts clergy. Steward Health Care was founded when the former non-profit Roman Catholic Caritas Christi health care system was bought in 2010. Steward’s decision to offer clergy vaccinations is outside the state’s guidelines, but within their purview of what the private business has the right to do since they, as a private business, bought these vaccines. If you wish to pursue this route for vaccination, the number to call is 877-358-8794. Identify yourself as clergy and someone will return your call. Steward hospitals are in Dorchester, Brockton, Haverhill, Methuen, Taunton, Ayer, Stoughton, Norwood, Fall River and Brighton.

We hope this helps to clarify some what we know is an unclear process. The Massachusetts Council of Churches will continue to post updates on our social media, website, and newsletter if there are changes to clergy status in the Massachusetts distribution timeline.

Bless you, Church. We know and share the weariness of these days. May we continue to see and support one another, trusting Jesus Christ our Savior at the helm.

Black Church +
White Domestic Terrorism 

 Again and again, when white supremacy seeks to terrorize the Black community, it attacks the Black Church. In late December 2020, the Martin Luther King Jr. Presbyterian Church in Springfield, MA was burned after multiple arson attempts. When white nationalists gathered in Washington DC, they attacked and desecrated Asbury United Methodist Church and Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church. When those seeking to overturn the results of the election attempted to enter the Capitol, the raised the name of Christ along with weapons of war. 

Why is it that white domestic terrorism is so fixated on destroying the Black Church? What do non-Black Christians need to know about the fears that Black Christians are enduring now? How can the Church respond in ways that are just and true? Listen to the Rev. Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery, the pastor of Martin Luther King Jr. Presbyterian Church in Springfield, and MCC staff Revs. Carrington, Kenneth and Laura for this conversation. 

Watch the discussion here. Our deep hope is to deploy MCC's statewide reach to increase awareness of yet another Black church burning, use that reach to raise more funds and assist non-Black clergy in understanding understanding the fear among Black clergy of white domestic terrorism. Since the discussion on 1/12/21, we've been thrilled to learn of multiple churches and clergy associations watching the interview, raising funds to support the rebuilding of MLK Presbyterian, and engaging in conversations about how white supremacy is incompatible with Christ's teachings.  

Please consider contributing to the fund to support the church in rebuilding. To make a donation, you may go to psne.org/donate and select MLK Church Fund Fire. Send cards and letters of support to 14 Concord Terrace, Springfield MA 01109. 


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