LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two recent church gatherings with unvaccinated people in attendance, one in southern Ohio and the other in central Kentucky, have been linked to COVID-19 outbreaks, which have led to some positive cases for Kentuckians. Spectrum News 1 spoke to two churches in Louisville, not affiliated with the recent gatherings or outbreaks mentioned, about the COVID-19 vaccine amongst their congregation.

What You Need To Know

  • Spectrum News 1 spoke to two Louisville church leaders about the COVID-19 vaccine amongst their congregation

  • Lynnhurst United Church of Christ hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic Tuesday

  • Shively Baptist Church hasn’t hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic but said it’s a possibility

  • Both talk about what they have heard from members about taking the COVID-19 vaccine

Anyone walking into Lynnhurst United Church of Christ in Louisville on Tuesday could have received a COVID-19 vaccine shot. 

“We thought we would extend our building to the community and let them decide for themselves,” Lynnhurst’s President Terry Conway told Spectrum News 1. 

However, there were only four people who got the vaccine during the three-hour LouVax mobile vaccination clinic, and none of them were members of Lynnhurst.

“Our congregation is pretty much all vaccinated. In fact, we have a strong belief that the vaccination is needed and everyone should get it, but we also understand that it’s a person's choice, whether they get it or not,” Conway said.

With 80 members and about 30 to 40 who attend in-person services each Sunday, Conway said the topic of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine has never been discussed during a Sunday service. However, members have brought the topic up during fellowship meetings.

“It was a major topic of discussion. ‘When are you going to get your shot? Are you eligible yet?’ and so forth. Everyone, to my knowledge that are eligible, has received their shots,” Conway said.

Conway said vaccine hesitancy he has heard about in the area has been more based on the congregation than the denomination.

“The United Church of Christ, which we are a part of, some of our sister churches here in the community have already had COVID vaccination clinics at their buildings. So it’s more congregational-based than it is denominational-based,” Conway said.

Shively Baptist Church in Louisville hasn’t hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, but the church’s Preaching Pastor Bobby Johnson said it could be a possibility. 

With about 120 members who attend service on Sunday, Johnson said the reaction to taking the COVID-19 vaccine is mixed among the congregation.

“Some are frustrated that everybody doesn’t choose to get it. Some are like, ‘To live is Christ and to die is gain so I’m just going to go on with my life because I know where I’m going after this,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that Shively Baptist hasn’t made an official statement about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, and it hasn’t talked about it during Sunday service, either. In addition, Johnson said there hasn’t been any divisiveness amongst the congregation about the vaccine.

“The church is doing a good job of staying united behind the gospel; what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. That’s more important, and so that keeps us united, but there are opinions, you know,” Johnson explained.

Johnson said when church members come to him regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, he is more of a sounding board who listens.

“Nobody has come to me in a great moral crisis, one way or the other, on the vaccination. They all come convicted, one way or the other,” Johnson said. 

On June 8, 2021, Interfaith Paths to Peace, a Louisville-based nonprofit that promotes peace, human rights, and justice through interfaith and intercultural dialogue, hosted a panel with various religious and spiritual leaders across several faiths about their perspectives on the COVID-19 vaccine and how they plan to emerge from the pandemic.