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North Texas church groups continue helping neighbors register for COVID-19 vaccine

Volunteers at St. Luke Community UMC in Dallas have made vaccine registration a weekly focus. They want policy makers to rely on churches more during the pandemic.

DALLAS — Another busy week brings another opportunity for volunteers at churches like St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas to give back.

“You have an opportunity to show what love really is,” said volunteer Leotis Ratcliff, as he helped pack food boxes in the church hall.

The church and its members have been providing meals, clothing, and COVID-19 testing through an initiative called Project Unity.

”This is what this church is all about. Giving back,” volunteer Rosemary Dumas explained.

Recently, the church has turned its focus to COVID-19 vaccine registration. Volunteers are working to make sure church members and the greater community get signed up to get the shot.

”I hear people say all the time, 'well, I don’t know what they have in the vaccine.' But we know there’s a virus that’s killing people,” said Senior Pastor Richie Butler.

St. Luke Community UMC volunteers and members have been busy and determined. They want to ensure as many people as possible, especially in the groups most vulnerable to getting the virus, have access to the vaccine.

”I literally have been calling from the White House to the governor’s office, county, city trying to get a way in which the church can be more engaged in vaccinating people,” Butler shared.

This weekend, St. Luke Community UMC is partnering with UT Southwestern on a vaccine distribution event at Red Bird Mall. Doses will be issued to people who previously registered.

Pastor Butler knows access to information, technology, and transportation to vaccine hubs has been a challenge in many communities. So, trying to work directly with policy makers has been a strategy.

”I understand that they want to have these mega sites. The challenge is, that’s not how you are going to reach our people in a significant way," said Butler. "And one of the vehicles in which that can happen is through the church and literally taking the vaccines into the community.”

Reaching as many people as possible is a message this and other churches are preaching and are encouraging policy makers to gravitate toward, as more vaccine becomes available.

”We’re pushing uphill, but we’re going to get the boulder up the hill,” Butler said.