Looking across the landscape of Australia we can see that there has been a wide and varied response to COVID. While the virus itself has spread to many parts of the globe and in some cases with devastating effect, there has also been another pandemic on the rise. A pandemic of fear, anxiety, depression. We have witnessed it’s impacts and effects within our own community.
And right now there is a pathway being developed within our state which will allow us to reopen again, with vaccination being the benchmark used by governments to initiate that pathway. Our church, Harvest Church does not hold an official ethical position on the use of vaccines. We encourage individuals to decide based on personal conscience, and sound medical advice. If you have concerns, please talk to your trusted doctor.
But the vaccination itself can only assist in the reduction of the effects of the physical virus. There is no vaccine that the government can provide for the heartache, anxiety and fear that is so rampant in the world. The answer to that, God’s answer, is the Church. And now more than ever, the world needs the Church.
The world needs God’s peace, power and a foundation built on the solid rock of God’s word. That is what the Church provides. A place to worship, hear the Word preached, seek prayer and counsel and really importantly, fellowship/community with each other. The Church is vital.
According to government announcements in NSW, a new restriction will be mandated for churches next month. This restriction will mean that only vaccinated people will be allowed to attend places of worship as well as many other businesses. How long this restriction will be in place is unclear. We are already seeing the removal of similar restrictions in many parts of the globe including the UK.
As a church eldership and board we have endeavoured to adhere to the government regulations throughout the pandemic. The wellbeing of our congregation is of upmost importance. However we are of the belief that no government should have the right to dictate who can attend church. Everyone – regardless of their vaccination status – should be free to gather, worship, pray and receive pastoral care.
Our church, along with the Australian Christian Churches, will stand against any legislation or government mandate, temporary or permanent, that discriminates and dictates who is allowed to enter our facilities for worship.
There is one more thing to address. Everyone, and we mean everyone, needs to be able to make their own choice on this matter. Many people within our church community are already vaccinated as well as over 75% of people in our communities have had their first dose. Everyone should have the right to choose without fear of reprise or coercion either way. Sadly, we have heard reports of church members who have been vaccinated, and those that have not been vaccinated, receiving disparaging comments and messages. Unfortunately from other church members. We are called to love each other regardless of our background, skin colour or vaccination status.
Disunity, division and fear have no place in our church community. 1 John 4:18 says “..There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” We encourage everyone, regardless of your position, to not allow the seeds of discord to take root. We are united despite our differences under the one name that is above all names, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Please continue to pray for wisdom, guidance, courage and faith for our entire church leadership as we navigate this next season.
Harvest Church Pastors, Board and Elders