(Pictured: Rotuma Wesleyan Church had their first dose of the Pfizer Vaccination at the Otara Vaccination Station together on 23 May)
*This post was updated on 28 October 2021 to reflect newly available information and the introduction of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Covid Protection Framework.
“It’s not just about this decision for yourself; it’s also about the opportunity to do something for your neighbors…Brothers and sisters, this really is a love-your-neighbor moment.”
(Francis Collins director of the National Institutes of Health during a webinar called “Evangelicals & COVID-19 Vaccine” April 2021)
We have all felt the impact of COVID-19 over the last year. I am proud of how people across our denomination have responded to the ongoing changes. It is with concern and prayer that we watch how it continues to ravage parts of the world.
Our unique position in the world offers Aotearoa-New Zealand the very real opportunity to transition to a highly vaccinated society that continues to prioritise public health measures as the pathway to fruitful living. Whether that occurs will largely depend on the nationwide take-up of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine ensures the ongoing safety of those who are vulnerable and will enable us to reopen to the rest of the world over time. This opportunity is available because of the God-given talents of the experts who have led the way in responding to this global crisis.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church is encouraging our people to lead the way in receiving the blessing of a COVID-19 vaccine here in New Zealand. We are doing so because:
- We are committed to loving our neighbours, many of whom are vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 should it gain a foothold in New Zealand;
- We serve communities in vulnerable parts of the nation especially in the southern and western areas of Auckland City;
- The ongoing social and economic harms arising from the pandemic need to be addressed as soon as possible;
- Our research satisfies us that the ethical and safety questions surrounding the vaccine are far outweighed by the potential risk to those we serve.
We appreciate that some people will reach a different conclusion regarding this vaccine and vaccines in general. All families and individuals need to make their own choice. However, we are convinced by our review of scientific, theological and ethical sources that there is a strong mandate for the church to lead the way in how it responds to this crisis. The comments of Dr Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project and committed Christian are compelling in framing this moment in history when he says we are at a “love your neighbour” moment.
(Alena Suguturaga, Nurse and member of Redoubt North Wesleyan Church received her first vaccination shot in April 2021)
We have prepared a summary of sources to respond to some of the concerns that we are aware of. You will find these below, where you can follow links to expert information. These are designed to help those who wish to explore more deeply, to do so. We’ve selected only the best sources as we believe the quality of source material is a real issue currently in the way information on the vaccine is being shared. We advise caution in accepting and believing all information found on the internet especially where it feeds fear and anger towards the medically determined response to this crisis. In keeping with John Wesley’s approach, we’re holding scripture, knowledge, experience and tradition in tension in forming our view. We’re inspired by Wesley’s own commitment to innovative healthcare in his time and the many Christian scientists, healthcare professionals and leaders who have contributed to the development of vaccines for COVID-19.
(Kristen Jones got her first vaccination shot on 23 May)
(WMCNZ National Secretary Rev Peter Benzie received his first vaccination shot on 15 June)
(WMCNZ National Superintendent Rev Brett Jones receiving his second vaccination dose – September 2021)
For this reason we encourage all ministers and those working in ministry environments with vulnerable people, to be vaccinated. I personally encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you have the opportunity to do so. I know I, and our other leaders, will be doing so.
Rev. Brett Jones
(WMCNZ National Superintendent)
You can download a PDF version of this Pastoral Letter Here:
If you would like copies of this letter printed to distribute in your local church please contact our National Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Panel Discussion on Covid-19 Vaccination (Aotearoa – New Zealand)
Answering questions about Covid-19 and vaccinations in conversation with Prof Matire Harwood, Dr Zachary Ardern, Dr Jin Russell, and Prof James Ussher.
Does the vaccine contain fetal tissue from aborted babies?
This is worth clarifying.
Key consideration: If we choose NOT to get vaccinated for ethical reasons then we have a moral responsibility to do all we can to avoid becoming a carrier that could pass the virus on to those who are vulnerable to its impact.
Since it has come out so quickly, has the vaccine been properly tested?
Key consideration: ‘…the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, has already been administered to more than 18,800 participants in an ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled international study, with a similar number of participants receiving a saline placebo.
Participants have already been followed up for an average of two months after receiving their second dose and all outcomes will have been carefully documented.’
A global focus, shared resources, and new technology meant this has been able to happen quickly without any compromise on quality. It has set a new standard for vaccine creation.
Does the RNA technology in the vaccine change my DNA?
Key consideration: ‘mRNA isn’t the same as DNA, and it can’t combine with our DNA to change our genetic code. It is also relatively fragile, and will only hang around inside a cell for about 72 hours, before being degraded.’
Theories that have been shared that this is an attempt by Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft) to forever alter the DNA of humans are entirely incorrect, as is the idea that the vaccine contains nano-technology (tiny robots) to achieve this.
Is it safe?
Key consideration: As with all medicine some people may experience side effects, but the number of governments that halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine because of reports of a tiny number of people experiencing blood clots (it is unconfirmed if this was because of the vaccine) demonstrates that governments are being robust in their approval and use of vaccines for the safety of their citizens. New Zealand approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine AFTER it had been approved in similar nations and had already been administered to a large number of people.
Other questions answered.
Stuff: The Whole Truth (looking at questions around the vaccine)