Event Raises Awareness About Mercury-Containing Vaccines, Drugs
Participants at "The Truth is Coming to Light" event listen to a presenter discuss the effects of mercury-containing vaccines and drugs.
by BARBARA WHEELER*
Members and leaders of United Methodist Women gathered with scientists, physicians and parents to discuss the effects of mercury-containing vaccines and drugs at "The Truth is Coming to Light" event sponsored by the Women's Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries June 6 and 7 at Simpsonwood Retreat Center in Norcross, Ga.
Fifty-five participants heard from presenters including scientists, physicians, parents and an attorney who advocate for the removal of mercury compounds, including the mercury-preservative Thimerosal, from vaccines and drugs.
Kelly Kerns of Monticello United Methodist Church of Shawnee Mission, Kan., attended “The Truth is Coming to Light” event.
The event was a bridge between the faith community and grassroots advocates on this issue. In 2006, directors of the Women's Division called on the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take action to protect children from mercury-containing drugs.
"It's taken a long time for anyone to listen," said the Rev. Lisa Sykes, a clergy member of Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church and parent of a mercury-poisoned child. Ms. Sykes worked with the Women's Division to organize the educational event.
Since 2000, Ms. Sykes has advocated the federal government and government health agencies bring the issue of mercury-containing pharmaceuticals to the forefront. When she was turned away by government officials and agencies, she turned to the church.
"I would like all of those here to find the event to be a commissioning," Ms. Sykes said. "This is the beginning of a social movement in the church, an urgent one and a historical one.
"Only in the church have people reacted with the proper response: to be horrified. I don't want any other children to go through what Wesley, my 11-year-old mercury-poisoned son, has gone through."
Parents of children who are mercury-poisoned often receive diagnoses of autism or other neurological disorders for their children's symptoms. The effects of these disorders on the lives of children and their families can be overwhelming. The disorder isolates the affected children and their parents become consumed with taking care of their children and working to find treatment, medical care and educational opportunities for their children.
Kelly Kerns, the parent of three mercury-poisoned children - a daughter, 10, and two sons,
The Rev. Lisa Sykes of Virginia Conference and Lois M. Dauway, interim deputy general secretary of the Women’s Division, participate in a press conference on mercury poisoning at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
8 - attends Monticello United Methodist Church in Shawnee Mission, Kan. In 2005, she worked in Kansas East Conference to pass a resolution entitled: "Protecting Children from Mercury-Containing Drugs." She attended the event at Simpsonwood to share her experience with other attendees.
"I don't believe God wants to see children poisoned," Ms. Kerns said. "When I took this issue to the church, I found peace in my life."
While working on the resolution, she was afraid people wouldn't support it, but no one questioned it, Ms. Kerns said. A similar resolution passed in Virginia Conference in 2005.
"Once you take the money and the politics out of this issue, the answer is very clear," she said.
Women's Division executive was a lead person in planning the event.
"The success isn't in having this education event," Ms. Taylor said. "The success is in what comes after the event."
June 8, following the educational event at Simpsonwood, many participants attended a rally at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alongside members of grassroots organizations, Moms Against Mercury and the Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs. At a press conference following the rally, speakers called for the removal of mercury compounds from all pharmaceuticals.
Lois M. Dauway, interim deputy general secretary of the Women's Division, spoke at the press conference.
"Our being here and standing together, advocating together, sends a distinct message," Ms. Dauway said. "We are here to speak to the powers that help make decision that affect all our health and our children's health. We are here to stand especially with parents who believe their children have been adversely affected by mercury-containing vaccines or other drugs. We are here because we are called and moved to action."
Tonya Murphy, president of United Methodist Women in North Georgia Conference, also spoke at the press conference.
Members and leaders of United Methodist Women joined with grassroots advocates at a rally on mercury poisoning at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
"The truth must come to light," Ms. Murphy said. "The truth is coming to light, and having attended 'The Truth is Coming to Light' event really opened my eyes. We must be like the resurrection women at the tomb who made a wonderful discovery and could not contain themselves. Let us cry hard and spare not."
Members of United Methodist Women from Virginia Conference brought the issue of mercury-containing drugs to the attention of the Women's Division, the policy-making arm of United Methodist Women, in 2005. In 2006, Ms. Sykes made a presentation at a meeting of the division's board of directors and directors approved a resolution that advocates:
- Prioritizing mercury-free stocks of vaccines and other pharmaceutical products for pregnant women, newborns and children,
- Providing informed consent for individuals about mercury exposure through their vaccines and drugs, and
- Banning any mercury compound in pharmaceutical products or vaccines prescribed or over-the-counter unless the presence of mercury compound has been proven clinically to have no adverse effects.
United Methodist Women is an organization of approximately 800,000 members within the United Methodist Church in the United States. Its purpose is to foster spiritual growth, develop leaders and advocate for justice. United Methodist Women members give more than $20 million a year for program and projects related women, children and youth in the United States and around the world.
*Barbara Wheeler is an executive secretary for communications for the Women's Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.