Tēnā koutou WMCNZ whānau,
You may have seen the media reporting this morning on new police guidelines released today. I write to provide clarity on The Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand’s position.
There are no changes to the standards we are working to that have already been communicated via our website and which are outlined on the Government Covid-19 website.
The guidelines to police, which I have obtained, appear to permit more than one group of 10 to meet for worship. This is as long as those groups remain 2 metres apart from each other and do not mingle in any way. The advice to operational police staff differs from the advice currently being provided by the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health who have a different view based on advice received from Crown Law. The existing view has been reiterated today in the Ministry of Health media briefing.
Our approach throughout has been to act in the interests of the safety of our churches and the wellbeing of our society as a whole. We have also taken care to comply with government regulations and have attempted to not only comply fully but also not look for ways to get around regulations in ways that might infringe the spirit of those requirements.
Here we have a situation where the government, as reflected through the cabinet decision-making process, the Ministry of Health as the primary ministry charged with responsibility for health public health and the Prime Minister herself, have a different operational view to the police. I believe that our response should be to act in the direction of the intent of the requirements as previously expressed by the Government. While attention has been drawn to a possible loophole in the regulations, this does not sit well with our values.
As a result, Wesleyan Methodist churches will continue to abide by the Ministry of Health guidelines, as described on the Ministry of Health and Covid-19 websites, to the effect that gatherings of 10 people only are permitted to meet for church services.
This is all being reviewed on Monday by Cabinet and we pray that there will be continued progress and group size limits will increase. If there are any changes to this position we will let you know. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions.
Ngā mihi nui ki roto Ihu Karaiti
Rev Brett Jones
WMCNZ National Superintendent (Acting)