As you no doubt have heard, from 11 October the NSW Government will allow us to re-open our doors once again. This means that on Sunday 17 October, we will be able to meet in person for church services, after being apart for such a long period of time! For this, I thank God, I thank our Premier, and I thank the Chief Health Officer.
I also thank all those of you who have followed the good advice of our health experts, and have rolled up your sleeve to receive a Covid vaccine. It is thanks to you, and your Christ-like, sacrificial love for your neighbours, that our State has reached an important vaccination milestone allowing us to open up safely.
In spite of our joy at these things, we, unfortunately, have to confront a difficult matter. For a period of 3 weeks, the Government requires that we only permit vaccinated individuals to attend in-person church services. Our leadership team has met several times in the past week to pray, and to discuss this challenging issue.
Ultimately, we are bound by the Scriptures to submit to the authorities that God has placed over us (Romans 13:1-7). I believe that the Government has set these requirements on the basis of sound health advice, for the safety of the whole community. I see no reason to think that we, the churches, are being treated unfairly. There will unfortunately be a season where only the vaccinated will be permitted to enjoy a range of freedoms, in various areas of life.
What will this mean for us as a local body of Christ during the 3 weeks starting 11 October?
If you are fully vaccinated, you will be able to attend in-person church services during this 3 week period. There will still be safety measures in place, in accordance with public health orders, with which you will have to comply. We will communicate further with you about these measures shortly.
Please ensure that you bring your “digital vaccination certificate” with you, to confirm your vaccination status at the door. If you do not have your certificate ready when you arrive, we cannot guarantee that you will be granted entry.
If you are not fully vaccinated, you will not be permitted to attend on-site. I understand this may be a cause of grief for you. You are still welcome to join our services online, as you have done for the past three months. You will be in my prayers, and I encourage you to consider getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
I understand that some of you, who are not fully vaccinated, will wish to join us in person. I urge that you please follow the public health orders, and do not attempt to attend. Those who are rostered on to greet people at the door will be instructed to ask you to leave, if you are unable to show a valid vaccination certificate. We have also reluctantly engaged the services of a security company for this 3 week period, and a security officer will be present to enforce the public health orders where necessary.
I also would appeal to you, if you are unvaccinated, to consider the medically vulnerable persons in our midst, whose wellbeing would be placed in jeopardy if unvaccinated people were permitted to attend in person and transmit Covid to them. It is for their safety that the Government has put in place this short-term limitation on your freedom.
It is crucial, at this trying time, that we remain united in our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We may have different points of view about these matters, but we must remember that the blood of our Lord brings us together as one. There is no division in Christ’s body. “He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall” (Ephesians 2:14).
Therefore, please let me encourage everyone to let go of their frustrations, and to look to Christ. This is a frustrating time for all of us, myself included. We will get nowhere by turning on each other. The division of our fellowship will only be for a short time, and then (from early November, when the 80% vaccination target is hit, and provided there are no changes in the official roadmap) we expect that we will be united again, when all will be permitted by Government to attend church.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the parish office. I look forward eagerly to seeing
all most of you on 17 October.
May God bless you,
Rev. Michael D. Richards
St. Brian’s Anglican Parish
* This piece is satire, and Rev. Michael D. Richards is not a real person. If you did not notice, consider how far we have fallen.