Pastor Verlyn Boone, specialized transitional minister for Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa, was one of three panelists involved in a community discussion focused on vaccinations. He said his goal in participating was “to lower anxiety so that we can think clearly about each individual’s response” in what he has experienced to be “an emotional and sometimes volatile issue in our culture.” Boone said, “There are valid viewpoints that need to be heard and discussed. There are also some ideas that are so bizarre that need to be addressed in a caring, listening style of leadership, yet truth must be spoken.”
The organizers of the event, One Book, One Sioux County, hosted the discussion as part of their community effort to “build community through shared conversation” according to member Jenni Breems.
Boone said that his church was supportive of his participation. “The outward response of leadership has been positive. The leadership encourages my participation and leadership in community issues and concerns.”
About 15 people attended the Oct. 14 talk, and group leaders were “thankful that the event went smoothly,” according to Breems. The audience was smaller than what organizers have experienced for their regular book discussions, which have been from 40 to 100 people, but on par with other community-focused discussions that the group has sponsored, Breems said.
Sarah Tolsma, professor of biology at Northwestern College, and Kate Vander Veen, a nursing professor at Dordt University were the other two panelists. Breems said, “This program is designed to provide local expertise that might help us in a complex decision-making process. The goal of the program is to inform, not to persuade.” The Iowa Department of Public Health said in August that 60% of Iowans over the age of 12 were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The department’s interim director, Kelly Garcia, said, “We have many tools we need to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, and the single most important tool we have is the vaccine, which is highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death.”
In addition to serving Immanuel as a specialized transitional minister (a pastor often hired in times of change for a congregation—in 2021 Immanuel’s previous pastor of 15 years left for another call), Boone is vice president of the board for Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center, Iowa. “Promise Community Health is committed to caring for the underserved and those without insurance to provide quality health care,” Boone said. He said he was pleased to be asked to serve on the board.