New Jersey Churches Serve as COVID-19 Testing Sites
Story by LaTasha Hewitt
Three churches in New Jersey: First church in Teaneck; Metropolitan church in Plainfield; and Mt. Calvary church in Salem, recently served as hosting sites for COVID-19 and antibody testing. This was done in partnership with the initiative by Phil Murphy, New Jersey governor.
“We recognize the need for people of color to be tested, but there is a lot of fear in those communities. Churches are typically viewed as safe places, so we put the call out for churches, and they responded,” says Derrick Greene, senior advisor to the governor for diversity, faith, urban and regional growth.
Testing sites were set up in the parking lots of the churches where social distancing and masks were required. Testing was free and open to the public as long as they provided a photo ID and insurance card. Workers at First church administered COVID-19 and antibody testing to 75 people. “The testing was a great success,” says Robert Smith, pastor. “Our community was able to view us as an asset, and we saw it as a great witnessing opportunity.”
Mt. Calvary church tested 100 individuals. Prior to this invitation, Pastor Melvyn Hayden III, had been praying about what else they could do for their community in addition to their food pantry. “When I got the call about the COVID-19 testing, it was great because it was something I had wanted our church to do.” Hayden greeted each individual as they arrived to the testing site.
Metropolitan church tested more than 280 people over a two-day period. “The testing gave us the ability to show that we are connected and committed to our friends and neighbors in the community,” says Pastor J. Alfred Johnson III, “and it will help us to form relationships that will give us opportunities to not only meet current needs, but to make sustainable change in the lives of the people.”
More churches in the Allegheny East Conference are scheduled to host testing sites in the near future.