Religious Leaders Engaged to Focus on Public Health Issues
During the COVID-19 pandemic Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of health for the City of St. Louis, reached out to several influential clergy leaders in St. Louis to present an informational briefing on the status of the virus’ impact on the community, and to identify available resources that could benefit the St. Louis faith community. A consensus was reached for the Clergy Advisory Board to meet with Dr. Echols twice per month about the virus, with the goal of discussing public safety protocols, access to resources, and presenting feedback to the Department of Health from the various church congregations.
During the briefing Dr. Echols invited the religious leaders to extend the newly formed relationship with the Department of Health beyond COVID-19. “To improve health outcomes in the city we must move away from offering health improvement solutions (developed in silos) to the community and move towards working with the community to develop effective solutions,” said Dr. Echols. “The faith community can be instrumental in helping us make that transition.”
Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten, pastor at Williams Temple Church of God in Christ, and president of the Ecumenical Leadership Council—St. Louis Chapter, said, “We are blessed to have Dr. Echols' leadership during this deadly pandemic. People are unnecessarily becoming infected with the virus. Dr. Echols is helping to direct our efforts at informing our congregations about safety precautions, testing, and where to go for resources and medical help. We look forward to working with him in the future on other public health issues.” The Bishop’s comments were reinforced by Dr. Kanika Turner, who stated, “Working together and staying safe is the best solution for combating this contagious disease and many other health issues facing our community.”
The Clergy Advisory Board includes Dr. Kanika Turner, Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten, Bishop Nelson Watts, Jr., Rev. Cornelius Moore, Rev. Anthony Witherspoon, Rev Richard McDuffie, Rev. Dr. Julius Sims, Rev. B. T. Rice, Evangelist Pam Rice, and Rev. Rodrick Burton. Additional community leaders on the Clergy Advisory Board are Lisa Potts, with the St. Louis Mental Health Board, Rose Jackson of Behavioral Health Network, and Bonnie Reece, Executive Director of Hope House STL (formerly St. Louis Transitional Hope House).
For more information about the City of St. Louis Department of Health Clergy Advisory Board call 314-657-1568.
Dr. Kanika Turner
Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten
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Department of Health