Dear Friends in Ministry,
We are writing to ask for your help and prayers amid a pandemic that has continued to stretch us to the limit of our energy and wisdom. You may know this up close and personal and/or through the lives of your members and neighbors that have faced the disease and its numerous repercussions. You have probably given pastoral care to someone who has become ill and perhaps cared for grieving family members.
In recent weeks, the pandemic has taken yet another turn and forced many institutions to make decisions that could further challenge us all. We are speaking of the decision nearly all the hospitals in our state have made to require that all health personnel be vaccinated. In the case of Wake Forest Baptist Health, this will take effect at the end of October.
We believe this is the right decision for reasons of both science and faith. The science supporting the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines is very strong; even better than the annual flu vaccine which we already require of all our healthcare team. The faith reasons are even stronger. Only a handful of small religious groups oppose vaccines on principle. All major faiths regard vaccination in a pandemic as a gift of God for the protection of the people God so loves. The vaccines express respect for the members of the Body and for all the children of God who would otherwise be exposed to entirely unnecessary suffering.
You may have members or neighbors who are healthcare professionals, yet troubled by the requirement to receive a vaccine. We ask for your help, not in convincing them this way or that, but encouraging and supporting their Spirit in a time when they are under very heavy stress. The mandate to receive a vaccine is only one of the stresses they may be experiencing. So, we ask your special attentiveness to them during this time.
We also ask for you to be a good model and witness. We believe that you are a vital part of the health care team. We hope that you, too, choose to be vaccinated prior to visiting vulnerable patients who are also your members. It will take all of us working together to defeat this pandemic.
Our chaplains and FaithHealth staff are happy for the partnership with you and glad to talk about how together we can be the people God wishes us to be. You may have recommendations for us that might help us do better. We see daily that God has given us all we need, so we are grateful.
Rev. Dr. Gary Gunderson,
Vice President, Division of FaithHealth Ministries
PS. I have linked a pastoral note from our colleagues at other faith-based health systems, which we have posted earlier.