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Views Differ on Vaccination

August 18, 2021

In its church and finance section, the Network recently ran a Q&A about the status of people being vaccinated, and that drew a range of responses on the ways individuals think about this topic.

The Network is an online community that allows CRC people to share resources, ask and answer questions, and support each other in ministry.

The question about vaccination was first raised by Randy Harris, an elder at a church in Winnipeg, Man., “As our church thinks about reopening this fall, we are wondering what we are allowed to do in terms of asking people about vaccination status. And if we don't ask, how do we make people feel comfortable and confident (e.g., dropping children off at a nursery if they don't know if the volunteers have been vaccinated). Any ideas?”

The responses to his question were varied and came from places across North America:

“Do it. It is a matter of public health,” said one response.

“I think that it depends on the nature of the volunteer position. . . . It’s a safety issue. I'd insist on fully vaccinated volunteers involved in nursery or children's ministry. . . . Manning the sound board? Not necessary,” another added.

But the responses also reflected strong opinions. For example, one respondent said, “Of course you should ask and, if they are not vaccinated, their services are not needed at this time. . . .”

Another explained, “Personally, I don't think it's a good idea to place more conditions on church attendance, or leadership. . . . I am not willing to be dictated to by someone because it's in vogue to do certain things. . . .”

And still another added, “The frenzy about vaccinations and distancing and masking, etc. has driven people to act in a way that is unreasonable and certainly not loving. . . . If I am sick, I am not coming to church. . . .”

Which generated an equally strong response, “The problem is that you can be asymptomatic and then come to church and give the virus to a child or an immunocompromised person. And, yes, you can get and give COVID if you're vaccinated, but you are less likely to do so. . . .”

While many people spoke in generalities, for some the issue came down to personal health concerns: “As an immunocompromised person it helps me to know people's vaccination status. . . .”

It was also expressed as a matter of personal choice, “I've comfortably received my vaccine at the earliest opportunity. I hate needles (at least the ones aimed at me) . . . but I was happy to receive protection and am at peace that I would be less likely to sicken someone else. When asked, I have counseled others in the wisdom of receiving a vaccination. But may God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I stand at the door of the church as an elder and bar God's people from worship or service in the church based upon their unwillingness to make all the same judgments and balance factors just as I have on matters never dictated in God's Word in any direct or necessary way. . . .”

However, to many the issue was less about personal choice than about being part of a larger community. There are larger questions about privacy and government regulations, they argued:

“The church does not have the right to ask about vaccination status. That is a privacy issue. . . .”

“. . . . The reality is it depends on the state you live in. The state of Washington, for instance . . . has made it a law that COVID vaccination status can be requested by employers. . . .’’

Follow the rules, although they vary depending on where you live, says this person: “I believe that the regulation is that if you aren't vaccinated, you are supposed to be wearing a mask in public. . . . Churches go to great lengths to keep their nurseries and church education classes safe. . . . I feel the church has to be a safe place for anyone to come and know that we are doing everything to assure their flourishing in body and soul.”

Seeking to bring the sides together, some people focused their answers on values that should guide us as a Christian community:

“. . . The item I take away from all of this is that we must always remember that this is a community matter and that as a community (especially as a community of Christians), we must continually work together for the good of all.”

Follow Scripture’s guidance, wrote someone else: “I think we all knew there were some risks in getting this vaccine, and we did it for the health and well-being of our families, churches, etc. Regardless of personal beliefs about the pandemic and mitigation methods, we need to strive to produce the fruits of the Spirit here, thinking especially of love, peace, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Take care of the children: “Because children below the age of 12 cannot get vaccinated and, thus, cannot take all the precautions available to mitigate the impact of COVID for themselves, it is the responsibility of those who work with children to ensure their safety. . . .”

Being realistic that this is a tough topic, one commenter added: “It is clear from the discussion here that whatever you do or don't do, you are likely to raise a firestorm. This needs to come from the council and be well thought-out in advance. Try to steer clear of the political ranting, plot your course, and go for it. Be prepared for the flack.”