New York state’s freshly-minted and first female Gov. Kathy Hochul praised the Lord and wielded her faith at the Brooklyn-based Christian Cultural Center on Sunday, telling congregants that vaccines against COVID-19 are God’s answer to “our prayers” and urged them to become her apostles by encouraging others to get their shots.
“We are not through this pandemic. I wished we were, but I prayed a lot to God during this time and you know what, God did answer our prayers. He made the smartest men and women, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers — He made them come up with a vaccine. That is from God to us and we must say, thank you, God. Thank you,” Hochul said.
She then praised the congregants attending the church in-person for being “the smart ones” and getting vaccinated, but added that there were those “who aren't listening to God and what God wants,” and she needed their help to reach the vaccine-hesitant.
“I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say, we owe this to each other. We love each other. Jesus taught us to love one another and how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live, I want our kids to be safe when they're in schools, I want to be safe when you go to a doctor's office or to a hospital and are treated by somebody, you don't want to get the virus from them. You're already sick or you wouldn't be there,” she said.
Hochul, who is a Democrat and former congresswoman from Buffalo, became governor on Aug. 24 after her predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, resigned following a state attorney general investigation that concluded that he sexually harassed several women. Hochul had served as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor before then.
Prior to addressing the congregation, Hochul, who is Catholic, was introduced by the Rev. A.R. Bernard, the 40,000-member church’s leader and political kingmaker, as a “person of faith.” Bernard said he had the pleasure of meeting Hochul when she was running for lieutenant governor and “it struck me that she was a person of faith. Really liked her spirit. We got a chance to know each other to a degree.
“And I will tell you that the evening that the resignation of our former governor was announced and it was announced that Kathy Hochul would be stepping into that role … it was 10 o’clock at night. I text [ed] her and I text [ed] her and I said, ‘Kathy, I am praying for you that God would give you wisdom to navigate all that is ahead of you. And she called me back about 15 seconds later. ... She said, ‘Pastor, you have no idea. I was on my knees, praying and asking God for the same thing when your text came in.”
Hochul, who intends to run for governor in 2022 after Cuomo’s term expires, pledged to fight against systemic racial injustice and lead with God’s inspiration.
“I've been a public servant my whole life and I believe there is a strong intersection between the teachings of the New and the Old Testaments and what we have been told to do, the lessons we've been given, delivered to us in places like this all over America, and if we're listening to those messages, it's calling all of us, but particularly those who've been called to serve as public servants, positions like governor and Congress member, assembly member, council member, all of us have an extra weight of responsibility. Because as you heard in the earlier songs today, and they're so beautiful and I thank them for lifting my heart and my soul listening to music, one of the messages was, God will keep His promise to you. God will keep his promise to you,” Hochul said.
“And here is my promise to you, my friends. I will use the inspiration of God in my life and fight for you every single day as your governor and beyond,” she added.