Waterbury pastor offering up his church to get more people of color vaccinated against COVID-19

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WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Grace Baptist Church has served Waterbury for 121 years. Now, church leaders there want to help Waterbury heal from COVID-19.

Senior Pastor Kristopher Reece wants the city to turn the church into a COVID-19 mass vaccination site.

“As a Pastor in a predominantly African-American church, a church that’s based on 65 percent seniors, I think it’s important for the church to be this beacon of light to lead the way in helping to get African-Americans vaccinated,” said Pastor Reece.

To him and to members of his congregation, this crusade is personal.

“Our church was hit last year with several members of our congregation who passed away from COVID 19,” he said.

One of those losses was a beloved church member. Several members of her family died due to COVID-19.

RELATED: Waterbury pastor opens up about the loss of a beloved parishioner to coronavirus

“And that’s why I think it’s so imperative, so important for the Black and brown community to get vaccinated,” said Pastor Reece. “Not just for yourself, but for the protection of others.”

Waterbury already had two mass vaccination sites that are being run by the city’s two main hospitals.

Waterbury Hospital/Waterbury Health has a drive-up mass vaccination site at Post University on Country Club Road; St. Mary’s Hospital/Trinity Health of New England has a walk-in site at Waterbury Arts Magnet School (WAMS) downtown.

However, when it comes to convincing a largely skeptical African-American community to take the vaccine, Pastor Reece says churches can be influential.

“They know us and they trust us,” Pastor Reece said. “It is very critical. The Black church has been the institution for the Black community.”

He has meetings set up with the city and with officials at one of the city’s hospitals to see if his church on Kingsbury Street would make for a suitable site.

News8 will stay on this story and bring you more information when it becomes available.

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