Rev. Juan Angel Monge-Santiago of All Saints Episcopal Church and Grace Baptist Church believes that it is his calling to spread the word about the Covid-19 Vaccination, despite many spiritual leaders opposing it.
Monge-Santiago and his congregation in Lakewood, NJ are committed to helping more people get vaccinated, dispelling myths, and promoting the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines. The church sponsored a “Grateful for the Shot” Covid-19 vaccination drive at La Casa De La Tia Restaurant.
Monge-Santigo believes that it’s important to keep the community safe while also upholding the beliefs of his religion.
“When it came time for vaccines, we started to let people know that we’ve been involved with local and state health authorities who are providing all the information. We wanted to explain to our community that we were up to par with all the information being provided. We determined it was important we be part of this vaccine push,” he said. “Our bishop said this is our way of showing our love for our neighbor: taking care of ourselves and taking care of others.”
The pastor mentioned that the church has been taking the virus seriously since the wake of the pandemic, hosting virtual church services. When the country started opening back up, Monge-Santiago said the church started a “reentering, reopening, reimagining task force for its community, consisting of priests and laypeople alike.”
Monge-Santigo observed that so many people were being misinformed about the vaccination, so he felt compelled to do something about it, especially those from minority communities.
“I noticed a lot of members of our Hispanic community were being provided information not based on any scientific data, hearing things like, ‘If I get vaccinated, I will die’ or ‘So-and-so died because they got vaccinated,’” he recounted.
Ultimately, for the New Jersey pastor, this is a matter of protecting the whole community.
“If we want to be here, we have to protect those around us, especially those who can’t be vaccinated because they have a certain medical condition that doesn’t allow them to be vaccinated. We will never get this under control otherwise.”