Enjoy this enlightening interview with Paul Mitchell, the new senior pastor at Pioneer UMC effective July 1, 2021. We think you will find Paul engaging, intellectual, and funny.
What is an EUA and how is it different from FDA approval?
When there is an emergency, such as a global pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to provide more timely access to critical medical interventions, when there are no other available alternatives. An EUA allows the FDA to authorize the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines that meet safety and effectiveness criteria within weeks, rather than months to years. The EUA process is different from FDA approval, clearance or licensing because the EUA standard may permit authorization based on less data and in less time. EUAs are in effect until an emergency declaration ends, but can be revised or revoked as more data becomes available or as products become approved, cleared or licensed by the FDA. Remdesivir is an example of a drug to treat COVID-19 that recently went through this process, and now has FDA approval.
What does the COVID-19 vaccine review and approval process look like?
Vaccines are tightly regulated in the U.S. and go through a rigorous evaluation process to ensure safety and effectiveness. The FDA has a strict protocol that outlines very specific safety, effectiveness and study requirements for drug and vaccine manufacturers to follow. These requirements must be met for a drug or vaccine to pursue approval, even on a limited, emergency use basis. Boards of leading academic experts review the drug or vaccine data at various check points throughout the process, and have the authority to stop the study or require additional studies of the drug or vaccine to further evaluate its safety or effectiveness. Once these monitoring boards and the FDA see evidence that the drug or vaccine meets safety and efficacy benchmarks, they can grant it EUA to provide timely access to critically-needed medical interventions. The FDA will not grant an EUA until at least half of all vaccine study participants have been tracked for at least two months.
What is an mRNA vaccine?
Messenger RNA or mRNA vaccines – found in two COVID-19 vaccine candidates – help to protect against infectious diseases. mRNA teaches our cells how to trigger an immune response. This immune response produces antibodies that help protect us from getting infected, if we come into contact with the COVID-19 virus. mRNA vaccines are held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as other types of vaccines in the U.S. and cannot give you COVID-19 or affect or interact with your DNA.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective?
The COVID-19 vaccine has been determined safe and highly effective in preventing COVID-19 by the FDA, the government agency that oversees and regulates vaccine development and approval. Other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also found the vaccine safe and effective after extensive evaluation. To help reassure the public, additional precautions are being taken to validate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Some U.S. states have developed another review process, following emergency use authorization from the FDA. At Providence, we are also carefully reviewing the data prior to making it available at our facilities. We will always put the safety and well-being of patients and caregivers first.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
We know there is a small risk of side effects associated with all vaccines, but often the side effects are less serious than the diseases themselves. The COVID-19 vaccine is no different. It may cause mild to moderate symptoms for some people. These symptoms can include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and fever. During initial testing, the COVID-19 vaccine resulted in no significant safety concerns. Recently, a very small number of other side effects, including allergic reaction, have been reported in the United Kingdom, where the vaccine is already being administered. We are monitoring these situations carefully and continuing to follow FDA and CDC guidance on administering the vaccine.
Who will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine first?
The COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out in phases to ensure the most vulnerable and high-risk populations have access to it first. In line with state and federal requirements, the COVID-19 vaccine will first be made available to certain high-risk health care workers, and patients and residents in long-term care facilities. Public health authorities indicate that it will be made available to the
Why is the COVID-19 vaccine important?
Vaccines are one of the best, most effective ways to prevent disease. Thanks to vaccines and their scientific advancements, some diseases have been eliminated across all or most of the globe. For example, smallpox sickened and killed millions of people before a vaccine was created. Because the disease was eliminated following the creation of a vaccine, we no longer need to get immunized for it. Once proven safe and effective, a COVID-19 vaccine will help us to protect the health of our communities, whether the disease is eradicated or remains a public health challenge in the future.
What are the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, when available?
Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine is being designed to protect you from contracting the virus or to limit the severity of the disease should you contract it. We know from other diseases and their vaccines that we can slow or stop the spread of disease when roughly 60 to 80 percent of a population gets vaccinated. A vaccine can limit the spread of the disease by helping to protect you and those around you.
How would a COVID-19 vaccine work?
Vaccines allow the body to produce an immune response (e.g., antibodies), which help you to fight the virus should you come into contact with it. After getting vaccinated, you develop some level of immunity to that disease. A COVID-19 vaccine may be like a flu shot in that you may need to get it annually or in more than one dose to maintain protection.
Do I need the vaccine if I wear PPE as part of my job?
Caregivers are highly encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine, when available. Like PPE, vaccines are an important line of defense against this highly contagious virus. A COVID-19 vaccine, in combination with other measures such as wearing appropriate PPE, frequent hand washing and social distancing, is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. We know that on average, one person with COVID-19 can infect another 2.5 people. Immunizing is a critical step in changing the trajectory of this pandemic and finally getting it behind us.
“There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekersand opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, and the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. The potential of the local church is almost more than I can grasp.” *
In this time of chaos, confusion, political strife, racial inequity, poverty growing by leaps and bounds, families being beset by food insecurity, isolation and unbridled death and dying, how can we carry that hope to others? Some days it feels as though we Christians have nothing much to offer the world.
Historically, we have not loved our neighbors as we should, our buildings are closed for now, and our communities are not meeting in-person. I don’t know about you, but to me it seems the needs are growing exponentially but we can’t keep up; we don’t have the means; we don’t have the organization; we don’t have the position in the community or the funding.
But the hope we bring to the world, in the end, has very little to do with means, or organization or position or funding. The hope we bring to our community and the world is not through OUR strength, but God’s. Even when we feel like we have nothing to offer or not enough to give, we have Jesus…we have the good news.
We can and do intercede on behalf of our community and our world through our prayers and the actions we can take. That, my friends, is more than enough.
I know of no greater blessing in my life today than to be a part of the church. Not just the universal church but I have a church family. You are my church family. And although we are not physically together, we are still church and although the building is closed for the time being, we are still ‘being’ church in the world.
Through our ministries of Pioneer Kitchen, connecting with Sharpstein, collecting food for the Food Pantry, supporting justice through Justice for Our Neighbors, Walla Walla Immigrant Rights Coalition and Walla Walla Speaks, creating meaningful on-line worship, our Whitman Fellow, our bible studies and justice classes — we are being church.
When we think unselfishly with the mind of Christ, reach out and to care for and restore those in need and those who are lost, the church becomes the hope of the world. We, dear friends, stand in the breach for all those who cannot. We offer ourselves, our prayers, and our actions on behalf of the world…and when we do, God shows up. Thank you church!
*[Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership, 2002]
DENVER, Colo. (Oct. 7, 2020) – The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church is beginning preparations for the next General Conference by recommitting itself to be a faithful, inviting, open, safe and loving place for all people.
As The United Methodist Church awaits a delayed decision on the proposed Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation, “Where Love Lives” is a nearly year-long campaign centering on the faith values that have undergirded the jurisdiction’s long-term commitment to a scripturally based fully inclusive ministry. It advocates approval of the Protocol by the General Conference.
“The Western Jurisdiction is committed to living out our belief that God’s church is open to all,” said Bishop Karen Oliveto, president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops. “The Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation offers a way forward to begin easing the five decades of pain created by the wounds inflicted on LGBTQ persons by the church.”
“Your home – our home – remains open,” the Jurisdiction declares. “The United Methodist Church is and will be safe, secure, open, and built on faith in God, trust in one another, and with love for all in all we do.”
Bishop Oliveto said the idea for the campaign came from conversations within the Western Jurisdiction leadership focused on the great divisions the church and nations around the world are experiencing. “We wanted to make sure there is an alternative vision for people to embrace, a vision that comes out of love that informs our actions as Christians.” She said.
The campaign comes in the midst of global uncertainty – heightened by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic – over the future of the denomination. Because of the pandemic, the 2020 General Conference, where the Protocol had been scheduled to be considered, was postponed and rescheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 7, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn.
“As we await the… General Conference and Protocol vote, let us recommit ourselves to creating, protecting, and sustaining a United Methodist Church that welcomes all, in Christ,” The jurisdiction said. Since 1982, two years before the denomination officially barred the practice, the Western Jurisdiction has ordained and assigned LGBTQ persons to be pastors. In 2016, the jurisdiction elected the denomination’s first openly lesbian bishop. And in 2019, the Jurisdiction committed itself to be a safe harbor for LGBTQ+ clergy from across the denomination.
The Protocol awaiting action in the postponed General Conference offers a path forward through the nearly 50-year-old dispute over the role of LGBTQ+ people in The United Methodist Church. Simply put, it would create a reshaped United Methodist denomination where LGBTQ+ persons could be ordained as pastors and churches could hold same-sex weddings, while simultaneously allowing opponents of LGBTQ+ inclusion to leave and form a new, more conservative denomination. Those persons would retain their former United Methodist pension benefits and congregations would be able to keep their buildings to be part of the new denomination.
In addition to promoting the Protocol, Bishop Oliveto said, the campaign will create opportunities for United Methodists across the Jurisdiction to engage in conversation about what its adoption could mean for local congregations and their pastors. These could be gatherings in homes, Sunday School classes, other small group settings, and all church meetings.
Monthly themes from October through the convening of the postponed General Conference in 2021, will focus conversation and discussion on topics related to the Jurisdiction’s commitment to inclusion, scriptural faithfulness, and the theological teachings of John Wesley, the denomination’s founder.
Here are the opening themes of the campaign:
- Oct. 2020 – Strongly committed to radical inclusion of all people.
- Nov. 2020 – We will always keep scripture primary.
- Dec. 2020 – Grounded in social action.
- Jan. 2021 – We will ordain and consecrate LGBTQ+ people.
These themes, Western Jurisdiction leaders believe, build on the progress made across their jurisdiction over the past dozen years, and could provide a solid foundation for other conferences across the church after the completion of the postponed General Conference. It keeps the historic United Methodist name, and focuses on its commitment to Wesley’s teachings on piety and social holiness.
This is planned as a multi-faceted campaign. It can be adapted for use in annual (regional) conferences and local congregations. The range of tools that can be created for the campaign include blogs, e-mail posts, Zoom calls, congregation-wide events, locally-generated articles on the importance of being an inclusive church, newsletter posts, prayers, short videos, calls to action, and the utilization of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Watch the WJ’s campaign video HERE.
About the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church: The Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church encompasses the eight westernmost regional conferences of the United States, including United Methodist churches in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Guam, and other territory in the Pacific region. The president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops for 2020-2023 is Denver-based Bishop Karen Oliveto of the Mountain Sky Area of The United Methodist Church, the region covering Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and a small portion of Idaho.
Take this beautiful tour of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. As you sense the amazing diversity of people, locations, and situations in our region, think about your own mission field…what is God calling you toward?