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Coronavirus Vaccine Questions Answered


December 14, 2020


COVID *Written by Dr. Antoine Geffrard  

Dear Everyone,

As everyone has heard, there will soon be available at least 2 vaccines against the COVID virus, one from Moderna Labs and another from Pfizer. FDA approval is being finalized for both, and at least 3 other vaccines from other researchers are soon to come. Ideally, the vaccines will be available to front line health care workers and vulnerable populations first because of limited supply. The supply will quickly increase, and the general population will have access to the vaccine as 2021 progresses.

A few questions I encountered most recently regarding the vaccine issue are:

1) Are the vaccines safe? (implying lack of trust in the process of vaccine development because of the politics surrounding the pandemic)

Answer: No vaccine is free of risk, but the medical literature regarding these new vaccines indicates they are safe. The scientists that have developed the vaccines are, by far, ethical and brilliant people who are not political in their motivation whatsoever. They also have families and humanitarian concerns regarding this terrible pandemic. The speed of development of the newest vaccines reflects improved technology and innovations surrounding this particular type of virus. 

The risk of NOT taking the vaccine should be considered realistically. While the majority of people who are infected survive the illness, the COVID virus is still a potentially deadly virus. It has swept the globe, and killed nearly 250,000 people in the United States alone, to this date. These people have not merely gone to sleep. Many have had prolonged suffering alone in hospitals and on ventilators. Their families have suffered, and unable to see their loved ones in their last days. Later, many have received hospital bills in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars after their loved ones have died. Others who have survived but been left with sustained debility and health challenges and expenses that have changed their life. The toll of this pandemic has not yet been tallied. It will be historic though, without question. In general, the risk of taking the vaccine is clearly much less than the risk of getting the virus.

2) Should I take the vaccine as soon as it’s offered, or should I “wait and see”?

Answer: That’s up to each person and their physician. The effectiveness of the vaccine has been reasonably shown to be very high - up to 95% for the Moderna vaccine, and near that level for the Pfizer vaccine. That means that the vast majority of people who take the vaccine will have only a 5-10% chance of getting ill when exposed to the virus That’s an extremely effective vaccine, as vaccines go. Please remember that now and as time goes on, your chances of being exposed to the COVID virus is 100%. 

Generally, adult vaccines are typically less than 50% effective (eg the annual influenza vaccine). Childhood vaccines are historically more effective, often around 85>%. No vaccine in history has been 100% effective.

Obviously, a “wait and see” approach may be reasonable for some people, depending on their individual emotional and physical health. Talk to your doctor about it.

3) Will we have a choice which vaccine to take?

Answer: Not early on. It’s likely that one vaccine will be offered first. Even if more than one is soon approved, only one will be available in a given area. Later, perhaps sometime next year, others will be marketed and generally available for consumer choice.

4) Will the vaccine remain effective over time?

Answer: It’s very likely that the vaccines being offered will remain effective for months/years. All vaccines lose effectiveness over time, due to mutations in the virus and/or changes in our immune system due to age or other illnesses. For example, the influenza virus mutates so significantly each year, no population (herd) immunity has a chance to develop and a new vaccine is required. However the current COVID virus, including its mutations, seem to be well targeted by the new vaccines, given a healthy immune system in the recipient. The COVID virus has mutated, but not yet so drastically to suggest a new vaccine will be rapidly required.

I hope this information helps make your conversations with your doctors and families more fruitful.

The Empowerment Church 5th Anniversary


July 10, 2019


The Empowerment Church has officially reached a critical and significant milestone in its brief existence.  The following is a historical accounting of how The Empowerment Church literally came to be, written by one of the founding members of the church (also known as a pathfinder) Bridgette Rudolph.

THE EMPOWERMENT CHURCH

January 2014 began like most others at Hope United Methodist Church; a period of calm, after an eventful and spirited 2013 Church Conference, culminating in a busy Advent season. Yet as we began preparing for the New Year, we were shocked to learn that our beloved pastor, who had served faithfully at Hope for 31 years, was being reappointed to a small church in Saginaw.

Everyone, throughout the community knew, that under his leadership, Hope had grown from a 150-member church to over 4,000 in less than two decades, established 80 ministries, and prepared close to 100 clergy to lead their own churches to serve in the ministry. Everyone knew that it was under his leadership that the congregation of Hope raised millions of dollars to support the needs of a growing community by building a state of the art Gym & Fitness Center, Education Facility and Administrative Center. Everyone knew that he was a scholar, a teacher, an advocate for peace, and a friend. But what everyone really knew that he was a man of God, and a consummate preacher.

The decision to move him was disconcerting resulting in a small group of leaders banding together to form an Ad Hoc Committee to reverse the decision. We loved Hope Church, we loved the people, we loved what Hope stood for in the community, we loved what we had built, and we loved our Pastor. For 12 weeks, January to April, this humble Ad Hoc Committee met, prayed, strategized, sought legal counsel, begged, cried, mourned, and finally met with the Bishop. Yet after all that, we reconciled ourselves to the harsh reality that while we’d done everything possible to reverse the decision, it was to no avail, and Hope United Methodist, as we know it, would never be the same. We cried for our church family, we prayed for our church, we prayed for God’s grace.

On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, a body of believers formed a new organization, the Pathfinders II, modeled after the Pathfinders of Peoples Community Church largely because the parallels between what happened to our Pastor and his grandfather, Rev. Carlyle Fielding Stewart, Sr., were remarkably similar. Our abiding scripture at that time was Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

We knew we were embarking on an amazing journey, “A Walk of Faith.” And while we knew “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” we had no idea what God was going to reveal to us, or what doors He was going to open. We knew one thing…we had faith. As it says in John 14:13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” We needed a place to do his work, God provided it.  We needed people who were willing to do the work. God provided them. So for 90 days the Pathfinders met, organized, planned, worked, and sacrificed their time, talents and treasures. We continued to pray.

On Sunday, July 6, 2014, God…in a big way… ushered a new faith community in Southfield. He opened the doors of The Empowerment Church with its guest speaker, the Rev. Dr. Carlyle F. Stewart, III, with Courtland Pitt, as our Associate Pastor, Bro. John Lawrence, as our Music Director, and on the first day, we received 175 new members. We continued to meet, to organize, and to plan for the future of Empowerment Church. Led by our Spiritual Leader & CEO Pastor Stewart.

As of July 21, 2019, Empowerment Church has 1,075 members, 38 ministries, 1 full time Associate Minister, 15 Clergy and Ministerial Team Members, a full-time Administrative Services & Support Staff, (3) Boards, a Holding Company, The Power Center, which opened in June 2017 for the children & youth, a new Fellowship & Learning Center, and a new Agape & Life Center, both of which opened on April 7, 2019.

And as he told his disciples at the Last Supper noted in John 13:34-35.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this…everyone will know that you are my disciples… if you love one another.”\

And so…by grace of God…we will continue “Our Walk of Faith.” Together, as one family, with our focus on the last commandment given to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…to love one another…as he loved us. Glory to God!

Living by Faith


June 23, 2019


In this video, Carlyle F. Stewart, III, Spiritual Leader of The Empowerment Church provides a precise explanation of what it means to live by faith.

If you've ever questioned or perhaps struggled with what faith is all about, what it means and how to apply it to your life, then this video will help answer those questions.

Do you agree with the explanation? What does living by faith mean to you?

Black Millennials Do Attend Church


June 14, 2019


A consistent question raised by many church's is "how do we get more millennials to church?"  Black Millennials do attend church, just not on the level of their more seasoned brethren.   Several articles have been written to address this concern, with titles such as "10 Way's Your Church Can Reach Millenials, 7 Ways to Engage Millennials and Church, and 10 Ways Church's Don't Reach Millienials"  just to name a few. The list goes on and on. A recent  article in Black Enterprise Magazine revealed that according the a new Pew Research Study that African American Millenials are more religious than their non-black peers, in the same age group. Although  black millennial's don't attend church as much as, and are not as religious as older blacks, they are far more engaged when it comes to praying daily, attending service week to week, and their belief in God than other millennials. The church, especially black churches want and should work tirelessly to engage our young people, it is how the church will survive and be a vital and important source religiously and socially in our community.   It is encouraging and good to know that black millennials want a spiritual foundation in their lives.

2 New Spaces coming to Empowerment


October 24, 2018


The two new Empowerment spaces, which have been in the pipeline for more than a year, will definitely be worth the wait! Thanks to our congregation for all of the donations and support as we continue this journey in expanding the legacy of Empowerment. A grand opening event will be held on December 20th at 24300 Southfield Road, Southfield, MI. RSVP for your tickets now, we expect a large turnout. The two new Empowerment spaces, which have been in the pipeline for more than a year, will definitely be worth the wait! Thanks to our congregation for all of the donations and support as we continue this journey in expanding the legacy of Empowerment. A grand opening event will be held on December 20th at 24300 Southfield Road, Southfield, MI. RSVP for your tickets now, we expect a large turnout.

Pastor Stewart kicks off Social Justice Series, "This is America"


October 21, 2018


On October 21, 2018, hundreds of people gathered for "This is America, a 3-part series delivered at The Empowerment Church in Southfield.

The series is to address complex contemporary issues surrounding citizenship and social justice.

His presentation centers around inequality found in the experiences of People of Color in America. Specifically, he highlighted the impacts of inequality found amongst African-Americans

The series can be pre-ordered up until its release on November 11, 2018.

GIVE
24300 Southfield Road, Suite 105, Southfield, MI 48075 | 248.234.8357 | contact@empowermentmi.org