8 Durham churches team up to vaccinate 500 parishioners, neighbors

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- On Saturday, 500 people got a COVID-19 shot at Peace Missionary Baptist Church in south Durham.

Eight Black and Latino churches across different faiths pulled off the COVID-19 vaccine clinic with the help of Durham County Public Health and the state health department.

Those churches include:

Peace Missionary Baptist Church, Fisher Memorial United Holy Church, Monument of Faith Church, Northeast Baptist, Nehemiah Christian Center Church of God in Christ, and a network of other Latino churches included in the Durham Chapter of the North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations (NCCLO).

Black and brown faith leaders met with those health agencies several weeks ago seeking help for their parishioners who were concerned about access.

"We want the vaccine. We just can't get it. And they felt they were somehow being excluded. They were being overlooked," said Rev. Gregory Ceres, senior pastor of Peace Missionary Baptist Church. "We tried to assure them that we as church leaders were advocating for them."

Reverend Gregory Ceres says his community sees this sacred space as a trusted and accessible place to get the vaccine.

The pandemic impacted his church family.

"The word devastating comes to mind," said Ceres. "This is not the first time we've experienced this type of devastation to our community. But we are resilient people."

Even in a pandemic, Ceres believes the crisis is also emphasizing how the church is a refuge for those in faith both spiritually and physically.

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

"The Latino church, the African American church has never turned its back, and that's not to say other churches have, but we can always rely upon those persons who frankly look like us," said Ceres.

Any unused vaccine from today's clinic will be given back to the health department for other vaccine appointments.

Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.