Mandeville church leader encourages congregants to take COVID-19 vaccineWednesday, August 11, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Chairman of the Mandeville Ministers Association and minister at the Ridgemont United Church, Rev Anthony Chung, says he is encouraging his congregation to get vaccinated against the infectious novel coronavirus.
“The options are vaccination or the virus. We have seen what the virus can do, so from a practical and a medical point of view I think it's best to get vaccinated and I encourage my congregation to get vaccinated. Get informed, talk to your doctor, get the facts, but be encouraged to get vaccinated. The virus is not going to go away by itself,” he told the Jamaica Observer by telephone yesterday.
Jamaica is now in the third wave of the virus which has led to an increase in infections and hospitals exceeding their COVID ward capacity.
Chung, who has received his first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, said he was looking forward to getting his second dose.
When asked if the association has come to a consensus regarding vaccination, he said it has not been a subject of conversation.
“The association has not spoken about it. It has not been a subject of conversation. We know that there are different opinions and people have different ideas about the vaccination and what it represents and all these kinds of ideas,” he said.
“I feel that we must listen to the health professionals and those who are experts. A lot of people got their information from non-medical sources. Vaccination has been a part of our lives for centuries. Things like polio, measles and mumps, those things were [treated] by vaccination,” he added.
With 15 active ministers and church leaders representing about 10 churches in Mandeville, the association has encouraged members to have multiple and online services on Sundays to accommodate congregants.
This follows continued changes announced by the Andrew Holness-led Government regarding measures to curb the spread of the virus.
On Monday, Holness announced that churches will be restricted to having no more than 50 people in physical attendance, including clergy and support personnel. This number is still subject to the physical distancing rules. In addition, no crusades, conferences, or conventions will be permitted.
Chung said the association is “fine” with the measures announced by the Government.
“Speaking for myself and to some extent the association, we understand the thinking behind it in light of the numbers. We think it's right, because anything that is helpful in trying to reduce the ongoing spread of COVID is fine with us,” said Chung.
“Some of us have done different things. Andrew Memorial United Church... did two services on the first Sunday [of the month]. Here at Ridgemont United Church where I am, we do two services every Sunday — one at 7:00 am and another at 9:00 am — we stream one of those services, so that those who are not able to make it can share in the service,” he added.
“Most of our churches in the association do the same thing. They either have multiple services or along with that (the use) of social media platforms, they are encouraged to have multiple services where that is possible and those who have the resources to go online,” he continued.
When asked what impact the change in curfew hours on Sundays starting at 2:00 pm, Chung said churches have adjusted to it.
“It has not had any real impact. We were 2:00 pm before and now we are back to 2:00 pm. We have adjusted to it. It would have been those who would have night services that would have been most affected. Most churches have recognised that you can't have night services,” he said.
With most churches conducting worship services mainly on Saturdays and Sundays, Chung said he believes the 6:00 pm curfew start on Saturdays is to accommodate commerce.
“I think that Saturday has less to do with worship and more to do with commerce and business… I don't think it has so much to do with Sunday versus Saturday. I know there are people who share that opinion, but I think that they (Government) are thinking more of the business sector and not wanting to shut them down at 2 or 3 o' clock,” he said.