Newark Mayor Baraka Recognizes Choose Healthy Life for its Major Role in the Success of the City’s COVID-19 Vaccination Effort
Newark named the nation’s first Choose Healthy City Mayor Declares Sunday, Feb. 27th as Choose Healthy Life Day
February 25, 2022 (Newark, N.J.) – Choose Healthy Life’s lead church in Newark, Metropolitan Baptist Church and its Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. David Jefferson Sr. Esq., along with all the pastors from Choose Healthy Life churches in the city joined with the Mayor of Newark Ras Baraka and Choose Healthy Life (CHL) Founder Debra Fraser-Howze to acknowledge the major contribution of the Black clergy to address the COVID-19 pandemic with testing and vaccination events.
Since Choose Healthy Life launched in Newark last February with trained health navigators based in 10 churches across the city, these houses of worship in collaboration with local healthcare providers have hosted over 300 events, delivering testing and/or vaccinations to over 15,000 Newark residents in hard-to-reach communities. The program has been a critical piece to the success of Newark’s vaccination campaign.
“The work of the Black clergy in our city has been a significant contributor to the success of our COVID-19 testing and vaccination program,” said Mayor Baraka. “Rather than asking our residents to come to a vaccination or testing site – our clergy brought testing and vaccination to the people through our trusted churches. I am pleased to declare that Sunday, February 27th will be Choose Healthy Life Day in our city.”
“I am so very proud of the city of Newark, the work of our church pastors and most importantly our health navigators. They are the true heroes on the ground – saving lives and making it possible for us to return to our houses of worship,” shared Rev. Dr. Jefferson who serves as Choose Healthy Life’s City Clergy Leader in Newark.
Choose Healthy Life is a sustainable, scalable and transferable approach to address public health disparities and inequities in the Black community by establishing a health workforce in the Black church. Newark was among the first cities to be part of Choose Healthy Life which started with 50 churches in five cities with the support of founding partner Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) and implementation partner United Way of New York City. The program grew last year to 120 churches in 13 states and CHOOSEHEALTHYLIFE.ORG
the District of Columbia. Since inception, Choose Healthy Life has vaccinated nearly 60,000 holding an estimated 1,000 events across the country.
“Because of the success of its testing and vaccination program, Newark has been seen as a guiding light of hope and healing for our nation,” offered Fraser-Howze. “Today we are pleased to share that Newark has been designated a Choose Healthy Life city, ensuring that the established health workforce in the churches will be sustainable and provided with the resources needed in the short-term to address the COVID-19 pandemic and in the long-term to bring health equity to the communities they serve.”
“We saw firsthand the disproportionate impact COVID-19 had on the Black community and the vast health inequities it unveiled,” said Ruth Clements, Vice President and General Manager of Infectious Diseases & Immunology and leader for Quest for Health Equity at Quest Diagnostics. “We are proud to be a founding partner of CHL and its efforts to expand access to health care resources to address key disparities in Black communities. We are grateful for the inspiring work of Reverend Jefferson, Reverend Williams and their health navigators here in Newark, which serves as the way forward for other communities to follow.”
“Through Choose Healthy Life, we have been able to bring faith and science together to form a strong, lasting and trusted bond that is bringing health equity to our communities across the nation,” said Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, who co-chairs Choose Healthy Life’s National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council along with Rev. Al Sharpton. “Choose Healthy Life is a model for the nation to address pandemic preparedness and health disparities that include obesity, hypertension, and diabetes,” said Rev. Sharpton. “Our success in Newark to address COVID-19 is an example of what can happen when we bring faith and science together.”
To mark the occasion, Metropolitan Baptist Church, in collaboration with Choose Healthy Life, the Ad Council, Black Coalition Against COVID-19 and Values Partnership will be hosting a “Day of Hope and Healing” service on Sunday, Feb. 27th at 9:15 a.m. It will be both an in- person and streamed live event across the country that will incorporate various faith leaders, medical experts, and gospel artists to help educate, empower, and inspire the faith community. For more information, please visit To watch the service streaming Live from 9:15 am to 11 am ET go to or on at
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The following is a list of Choose Healthy Life participating churches in the Newark area:
• Bethany Baptist Church
• City Hope Ministries
• Clear View Baptist Church
• Greater Mt Moriah Baptist Church
• Jehovah-Jireh Praise & Worship Church Center
• Metropolitan Baptist Church
• Mt Calvary Missionary Baptist Church
• Pilgrim Baptist Church
• Pleasant Grove Baptist Church
• St Mark Free Will Baptist Church
• Agape Family Worship Center (Rahway, NJ)