by Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writer
Central Baptist Church in the Hill District’s mission statement reads: “A church with a vision, A people with a prayer, Worshiping God with a praise.”
And as we speak, the church is literally saving lives.
African American residents are leading the charge in getting the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine inside the hallowed walls of Central Baptist Church, on Wylie Avenue, “centrally” located for all to find. It was announced earlier this week that the church would be open six days a week for walk-in appointments to get vaccinated for adults of any age.
2200 Wylie Ave., Hill District
Open to all adults
“We were really excited about being chosen,” Karen Eady-Lockett, the Central Baptist Church administrator, told the New Pittsburgh Courier on Tuesday, April 13. “We’re glad to be a part of being able to be the catalyst for people to come and get their shots.”
KAREN EADY-LOCKETT, Central Baptist Church administrator.
Eady-Lockett and Deacon Ernest Darby had been in talks with the Allegheny County Health Department since February about making the church a “point of dispensary” for the COVID vaccine, a vaccine that very few African Americans were receiving, relative to Whites in the county.
“They liked our location, the target audience was the African American community, and also because of our parking lot, they thought it would be a great site,” Eady-Lockett said, referring to the county Health Department.
“The clinic (at Central Baptist) will be used to underscore the county Health Department’s role in addressing gaps in vaccine distribution,” read a release from the county, dated March 19.
Three days later, March 22, individuals began entering the church to receive the vaccine. Students from Duquesne University’s health science, nursing and pharmacy schools are administering the Moderna vaccine doses at Central Baptist.
SHARON MOORE, of the Hill District, gets her first Moderna COVID-19 vaccine dose at Central Baptist Church, Tuesday, April 13. The church, at 2200 Wylie Ave. in the Hill District, is accepting all adults on a walk-in basis to get the vaccine, weekdays from 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)
During the Courier’s visit to Central Baptist, 2200 Wylie Ave., Hill District resident Sharon Moore was seen receiving her first vaccine dose. A member of the church had told her about the walk-in appointments, and Moore was “more” than glad to take the short ride to the church.
“We need all the help we can get (to get the vaccine) on the Hill, and plus, we have to get the vaccine to our senior citizens,” Moore told the Courier.
JEWEL MOSLEY, left, with Central Baptist Church, and Mildred Epps, of the Hill District.
Jewel Mosley, a Central Baptist Church member tasked with greeting and signing-in those who walked into the church, said that nearly 50 people had registered in the first hour or so of its doors opening at 1 p.m. on April 13. Mosley said she’s ready for however many people show up in the weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings ahead, as Pittsburgh Steelers greats Franco Harris and Mel Blount have publicly urged the Black community to come to Central Baptist and get their vaccine shots. The Steelers legends were joined in the effort by Black Political Empowerment Project Chairman and CEO Tim Stevens, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh President and CEO Esther L. Bush, and Central Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Victor J. Grigsby.
MICHELLE FIELDER, shown here making her appointment for her second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine dose. She received the first dose a few moments prior on Tuesday, April 13, at Central Baptist Church.
Michelle Fielder, a Wilkins Township resident who’s originally from Lincoln-Larimer, thanked her cousin for telling her about the easy vaccine access at Central Baptist. Fielder said she had been trying for weeks to get an appointment online and through the telephone, but nothing worked. Now, Fielder, the owner of Purpose of Life Home Health Care Agency, has the first COVID vaccine dose, and will return in about 3-4 weeks for her second dose.
MICHAEL STANTON, of the Hill District, gets his first Moderna COVID-19 vaccine dose on Tuesday, April 13, at Central Baptist Church. (Photos by Rob Taylor Jr.)
The same goes for Michael Stanton, a Hill District resident, who got his first COVID vaccine dose on the sunny afternoon of April 13, his wife accompanying him to the church.
“It’s perfect,” he told the Courier. “You just walk right up, get your shot, and be right on out.”
Of course, everyone who receives a shot must sit in a waiting area for 15 minutes for observation purposes, but Stanton’s point remains the same—for African Americans and others in Pittsburgh, there’s no excuse not to get the easily available vaccine at Central Baptist. It’s available each day except Sundays at Central Baptist Church in the Hill District, a church that is credible and trusted.
“It’s better to get it just to see, and don’t be scared of what they’re giving you,” Stanton told the Courier, “because you know if you get the COVID, you really got a problem.”