Since the early months of 2020, the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries have followed a broad, proactive course in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the effort to control and overcome the disease on the alleviation of suffering. Guiding us always is the key United Methodist value of “doing no harm.”
Global Ministries response through the “Sheltering in Love” Advance campaign#3022671 and other sources of funding have, to date, enabled the release of over 340 grants totaling $4.5 million to more than 300 partners in 57 countries. These funds provided educational resources about COVID-19 prevention and dismantling vaccine myths, food relief to communities deeply affected by job losses and purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), respirators and hospital equipment, among other needs related to combatting the virus. Regionally, we have spent $1.5 million in the United States, $1 million in Africa and several hundreds of thousands in other regions of the world.
“Love Beyond Borders,” launched in October 2021, is our participation in the interfaith movement to assure the equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide. This campaign was inspired by First UMC, Boise, Idaho, and is part of the effort of the international COVAX Alliance to assure that low and middle-income countries receive their fair amount of vaccines.
The COVAX Alliance is comprised by the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and UNICEF as the key implementing agency. To date, United Methodists have contributed about $250,000 to this effort and UNICEF has distributed close to a billion vaccines and anticipates distributing 4.1 billion in 2022. We are an integral part of the largest and most complex vaccination campaign in history. Advocacy for vaccine equity is critical and this has also been emphasized by the Council of Bishops of the UMC and the Connectional Table. Advocacy and education are the two keys areas that can positively impact the global distribution of the vaccine.
The elimination of the coronavirus is a daunting task and can only be done with governmental and other partnerships. Logistical challenges are among the greatest barriers to immunization. Vaccines must be legally purchased, safely transported and stored under certain conditions before being administered.
Global Ministries is not in a position to do this as it is usually the responsibility of governments and partners like UNICEF. Moreover, to be effective in addressing the pandemic, vaccinations need to be administered to family or community groups simultaneously. This remains Global Ministries’ primary goal for its participation in the COVAX campaign: to effectively and equitably respond to the pandemic in ways that alleviate suffering for entire communities.
Chief among concerns is the preparation of communities to understand the importance of vaccines to stop the spread of COVID-19. Our annual conference health boards in Africa are actively engaged in work to dismantle myths about the disease and vaccine. One of our major roles is to prepare health workers to advocate within their own countries for the vaccine and to help health facilities meet government criteria to become vaccine sites, in partnership with health ministries.
We urge all United Methodists to join us in this life-giving mission – to support and advocate for the equitable distribution of vaccine and to equip personnel and facilities in the safe vaccination of communities. We ask for prayer, that God will guide us in the ways of compassion, generosity, equity and hope for deliverance from all suffering.
excerpt from a story by Roland Fernandes, General Secretary, General Board of Global Ministries
The Advance is the accountable, designated-giving arm of The United Methodist Church. The Advance invites contributors to designate support for projects related to the General Board of Global Ministries. Individuals, local churches, organizations, districts and annual conferences may donate to The Advance. One hundred percent of every gift to The Advance goes to the project selected by the giver. Gifts to missionaries support the entire missionary community.