Local pastors beg congregants to get COVID-19 vaccine

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two Memphis pastors are re-evaluating their safety measures as the Delta variant causes a spike in cases and hospitalizations.

The two leaders are also looking at the new CDC guidelines, urging people to mask up indoors.

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“Too many people are dying this week; I’ve heard about five different stories. People losing their fathers, their husbands, their wives, their daughters and their mothers so we need to be more aggressive towards getting vaccinated,” said Pastor Ricky Floyd.

Floyd begged his church members to get the COVID-19 shot.

He said about 65 percent of his congregation at the Pursuit of God Transformation Center are vaccinated but his goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

His church is in Frayser, an area with one of the lowest vaccination rates.

“We need to have it available, we really need to encourage people and we need to use our voices of influence with the community,” said Floyd.

Right now, he doesn’t require masks or enforces social distancing but this could change.

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Meanwhile, Pastor Bill Adkins with Greater Imani Church said he’s required them from the very beginning.

“We feel we need to continue what we are doing and that is social distancing and wear the mask even when you are vaccinated,” said Adkins.

Adkins said about 13 church members died from COVID-19 so it hits close to home.

He warned people that the Delta variant is dangerous and the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated.

“They have not seen people die from COVID but I have and dying from COVID is not an easy or beautiful thing to see. It’s a rough, terrible disease that literally chokes the life out of a human being,” said Adkins.

Both pastors hope to keep in-person worship but said they have a plan just in case there is an outbreak.

Floyd said he wants the city to use his church as a pop-up location again.