I wrote recently about my concerns with voluntary vaccination passports in churches. In my view, such a system would unnecessarily create obstacles for the congregation. However, the Province of New Brunswick now allows their provincial passport system to apply to churches on a voluntary basis. If a church can prove that it has 90% of its congregation vaccinated, then they can meet without physical distancing (and more).
If a church does not want to submit such proof, then they must only meet with 50% of their building’s capacity. In other words, if a church voluntarily uses the provincial passport system, they no longer have to physically distance themselves. If they remain as they are, they must physically distance (and more). Practically, 50% of a building’s fire-code capacity may mean only one service (if a 100 person congregation meets in a school that fits 200 people, for example). It may also mean hosting two services instead of one.
No matter the details, such an offer by New Brunswick to churches creates tension. Christians have strong feelings about being vaccinated or being unvaccinated. And while our unity centres on the Gospel, sometimes a root of bitterness can still grow.
Global News reports: “The Leger survey, conducted for the Association of Canadian Studies, found that more than three in four respondents hold negative views of those who are not immunized.” While the negative views may go both ways, the vaccinated population forms a majority, a majority with social capital.
Such negative views should not be representative of Christian churches. We have a duty of love to one another despite our differences. Even if we think the other person is “weak,” we must still accept each other: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions” (Rom 14:1).
I could say more here, but I think it is important to realize that our unity in Christ, centred on the Gospel, means that as Christ welcomes us, we welcome one another. “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom 15:7).
The next months will challenge us. And the challenge, no matter what side of the aisle you sit on, will be a challenge of self-control. Will we allow bitterness to rule our hearts? Or will we walk in the Spirit, in love and joy despite our significant differences over the vaccine?
Pray for me. For each other. And pray that the Gospel would shine out from coast to coast to coast. If we remember the Good News daily, we will have found our Rock of unity, Christ.