Oregon is counting down to reopening as the state’s vaccination numbers tick up. Governor Kate Brown has established a threshold to lift most restrictions: 70% of Oregonians need to have at least one shot. The state is expected to reach that number in the coming days.
But at Highland Christian Center in Portland, the mood is not one of excitement.
“It feels like a war,” says Senior Pastor Shon Neyland. “It feels like a war of attrition.”
Neyland speaks from experience. Before he retired, he was a chaplain in the Air Force and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now he pastors this church of nearly 700 mostly Black congregants, big enough that it takes up a whole city block and has its own coffee shop and bookstore.
Today, Neyland is fighting an invisible enemy: the forces keeping his congregants from getting the vaccine. He estimates at least half the church isn’t vaccinated. Once the state reaches 70 percent, this could mean hundreds of unvaccinated, unmasked people attending his Sunday service. And that has Neyland worried.
In Oregon, Pastor Shon Neyland is fighting the forces keeping about half of his congregants from getting the vaccine. https://t.co/R0iZHH0Im9
— NPR (@NPR) June 28, 2021