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If fellowship matters, this shot matters

Stephen Artis The Rev. Stephen L. Artis, executive pastor, Cedar Street Baptist Church

When Artis took the job as executive pastor of Cedar Street Baptist Church in June 2020, the mission was clear: Get food to those in need.

So over six weeks last summer, volunteers at one of Richmond's oldest African American churches distributed 12,000 boxes of fresh produce and frozen meats every Saturday morning. Lines of cars wrapped around the block, serving members throughout the community and as far north as Fredericksburg.

“This shot matters because it’s an act of care for other people. It's not about me,” said Artis, who had a mild case of COVID-19 in December. “This is for everyone I come in contact with. I got vaccinated because I want other people to still go out and love life.”

The pandemic gave Artis a greater appreciation for life — one that he can take forward now that he’s gotten the vaccine.

“I was one of those people, who, I was not always managing my time well, especially when it came to time spent with loved ones,” he said. “I would work — work when I really could have been at home. I would come home dog-tired and not have any energy for my family.”

Whether vaccine education, food disparity or social justice reform, Artis says the role of the church going forward in a post-COVID world is to be part of the solution — not just the conversation. “We cannot sit and have a conversation without going out and being a part of the solution,” he said.

To get vaccinated, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov. To read more stories like this, visit vcuhealth.org/thisshotmatters.