NZs vax dilemma – what to do about unvaccinated church members


Church leaders across the country are facing a vax dilemma regarding unvaccinated church members.  What do they do about having them in their congregations?

It’s a question many are considering. The conversation around mandatory vaccinations is heating up.

Last week, the Government announced digital vaccination certificates, which should be introduced by November. They will be available either in digital form on smartphones, or can be downloaded and printed out.

The general idea is for these certificates to be used as a tool in high-risk settings including large events and festivals. They won’t be needed in places like supermarkets or essential health services,however.

Further detail about the certificates, including where they’ll be needed and which places are exempt is still being decided. At present, for instance, the Government is consulting on their use in places like hospitality.

Auckland Church Leaders Group Chair Jonathan Dove says vax certification is a contentious issue.

“We are in a very challenging situation because churches tend to meet indoors and we sing and hug – and those are all things that spread the virus.”

Nonetheless, churches should be assisting not dividing in the fight against Covid-19, Dove says.

“Churches need to take the virus seriously and should be proactively implementing health measures.

“Yes, we are in a difficult position, but that’s because of the virus, not the Government.”

Dove, the Senior Pastor at Auckland’s Grace City Church, says they are looking at options around how church services will be held once the Government deems it is safe to do so again.

This includes exploring whether to provide separate services for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, he says.

St Peter’s Anglican Church in Wellington hasn’t yet settled on its response to the vexing vax question.

Reverend Stephen King says it’s like trying to balance along a tightrope.

“We are encouraging people to get vaccinated, but we don’t want to make it a pre-requisite in order to belong to the church.”

At the same time King says churches must work with reality.

“Churches now need to find a way to meet the needs of those who are jabbed and those who refuse to be, because the risk of Covid is out there.”City Imact

“There are some churches that are quite happy to tell people what to do, but we are having that conversation now with our members and leadership.”

City Impact Church, which has churches across New Zealand, says it takes no official nor ethical stance on the use of vaccines.

Its leader Peter Mortlock was recently called out for encouraging members to attend Brian Tamaki’s Destiny Church-led, 2000-strong anti-lockdown protest.

Mortlock says City Impact supports and tries to comply with all public health measures, but strongly objects to limiting in-person church attendance based on vaccination – or any other status.

This would have a major impact on the mental, emotional and social health and wellbeing of thousands of City Impact Church members, he says.

Density Church’s Tamaki, however, will fight charges laid against him in relation to the anti-lockdown protest.


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News category: New Zealand, Palmerston.

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