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Retired pastor, ex-Gamecocks QB makes vaccination part of his ministry

Health

Retired pastor, ex-Gamecocks QB makes vaccination part of his ministry

Health

The Rev. Harold Lewis, 86, former pastor at Belin United Methodist Church, sees his decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as another way to minister to his community by serving as an example.

During his time as pastor of Belin Memorial United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet, the Rev. Harold Lewis always tried to preach compelling sermons.
“Sermons that people would listen to,” says Lewis, who retired from the ministry 16 years ago.
These days, Lewis, 86, offers a lesson for life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He and his wife, Edna, recently became two of thousands of people ages 70-plus to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Tidelands Health.
As of Feb. 23, the health system had administered more than 24,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including more than 18,000 doses to people 70 and older at regional vaccination sites in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown.
Even though he’s retired, Lewis still periodically has a chance to share God’s word with others, so he didn’t hesitate to be vaccinated.

The Rev. Harold Lewis and his wife, Edna, are among among thousands of people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 by Tidelands Health.

“Any help I could get with the vaccination to strengthen my immune system would be a good thing,” he says. “For me to do the things that I’m still asked to do, I need to be functioning at full capacity.”
When he arrived for his vaccination appointment at the Murrells Inlet site, Lewis was impressed at how smoothly everything operated.
“I’ve always been a team-oriented person,” said Lewis, who played quarterback for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks during the 1953-54 season. “It was important to me that everything went smoothly. Everyone know what they were supposed to do, and they were doing it.”

Reminder of the past

Lewis was born in Aynor and grew up in Horry County. He was 16 when he enrolled at USC. He roomed with two other men; one played tackle on the football team. One morning, his teammate woke up with a tingling in his right arm.
“This was a big, strapping guy,” Lewis says. “By sundown, my roommate had lost the use of his arm.”
Polio had struck the campus.

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“I’ll never forget how fearful people were in Columbia,” Lewis says.
Lewis’s memories of polio – and diphtheria before it — put him in a rapidly shrinking group: People who have lived through a disease epidemic before COVID-19. Today, the diseases that stalked Lewis in his dorm room have been largely wiped out by childhood vaccinations, and he hopes the COVID-19 vaccine leads to a similar result with that disease.

A calling

By his senior year at USC, Lewis felt a calling to the ministry. Following college, he spent 2 years in the Army at Fort Jackson where he served as chaplain’s aide. That cemented his sense that he should join the ministry.
Following seminary at Emory University’s Chandler School of Theology in Georgia, he returned to South Carolina and served seven different churches around the state.
He sees his decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as another way to minister to his community by serving as an example.
“The risk is minimal,” he says. “And the reward? Life is precious, and we value that. I’ve still got a lot of things to do.”

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