PORTSMOUTH — Faith is a driving force in Sallie Schisler’s life. It isn’t just something she believes, it’s something she lives. It’s what led her to become a Vicar and Episcopal priest. It’s also at the heart of why she received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“For me, to not only get my vaccination but to encourage others to do so, felt pretty much like what it means to love your neighbor as yourself,” she explained. “This is not only how we take care of ourselves, but how we show others we care about them.”
Her message – that receiving the vaccine is an act of love and an example of Christian values – has resonated well in her congregation. Very well, in fact. Nearly every member of the congregation has already been vaccinated. Even those she thought might be hesitant proudly shared photos of themselves after their first and second shots.
“The only people who haven’t been vaccinated are those who are just too young,” she said.
Those decisions are already paying dividends by allowing the church to gather in ways it couldn’t before. A year ago, there was no guarantee that would happen. One day the church was open and the next it was not. Religious leaders like Schisler were forced to find ways to continue their work. They had to figure out how to keep their group together, and they had to do it quickly. In most cases, this meant taking a crash course in Zoom and Facebook Live.
“For Christians, one of the most important things is not just worship but connection,” Schisler said. “Maintaining connection virtually didn’t always feel comfortable but at least we could see one another’s faces in little squares every Sunday.”
One 92-year-old member of the congregation was even gifted a laptop by his daughters. It was new territory, but he learned how to use Zoom so he could continue to attend worship in the height of the pandemic. Once the COVID vaccine made it possible to have more in-person gatherings, though, he made sure to show up in person.
“He said, ‘If I had to crawl, I would have been here,’” Schisler recalled.
In the darkest days of the pandemic, there were concerns about if there would still be a church to return to once things went back to normal. There’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel, and the church is still standing strong. In fact, there is some reason to think it may experience a bit of a revival.
As the pandemic fades, Schisler expects people will be looking for connection. They will be looking for meaning. And they will be looking for community. All of these are central to her faith.
“You heal the world one little act at a time,” Schisler said. “As minor as it might seem, getting a vaccination is one way to help heal the world.”
To schedule your COVID-19 vaccine, call 740-356-CARE. The state of Ohio is currently offering vaccinations to everyone 16 years or older. For more information about the vaccine, please refer to cdc.gov.