As we enter into a new phase of the Traffic Light system, I want to communicate to the church why we are doing what we are doing. We do understand there has been confusion around our approach so want to address that and to encourage us to engage with what is happening here at Nativity.
Vestry has now met, and we had a good session working through people’s concerns and different points of view and sharing possible options. The difficulty is making sure what we do is based on the gospel and our commitment to that, and our struggle is to have a solution that does not affect that negatively.
A little bit about the gospel stance that has been guiding us through this time: The gospel, at its heart, is an invitation and a way made possible to fellowship with God that is free and available to all.
The church cannot control access to that.
Much like border entry into a country, there is a very clear set of scriptural injunctions that tells the church who has responded to that appropriately – this is around repentance, receiving of the Holy Spirit, and a commitment to following the way of Christ.
So a person’s conscience choice, such as the one to be vaccinated or not, does not affect their access to fellowship with God. Therefore, while we endeavor to follow government guidelines around running services as we are called to obey those in authority, we feel the gospel message is at stake in turning people away from our main gathering when it is based on a matter of conscience. Hence a No Vaccine Pass required service, open to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated has been our main service in the church while providing a Vaccine pass worship service for those who want to be in that environment only.
We are wanting to hold to that gospel stance while continuing to provide ministry for all.
We recognize this is not ideal and it is not without feelings of frustration and feelings of anguish. How we have been operating has always been provisional and through regular meetings with care cell leaders, Vestry, and others, we will continually evaluate what we are offering and doing. We would like you, either in groups or as individuals, to come and share your concerns with us. We do understand that it can be hard to get our heads around what is happening, and we do want opportunities to discuss this with you further.
Being faithful to the gospel is essential but we want to remain open and adjustable – we understand we have to be functional and make things as suitable as possible so do come and speak to us.
Finally, we encourage you to engage with what is happening.
As we head into the Red setting, the Nelson diocese has just gathered in a monthly meeting to look at how to run the house church model and to do that well. From that meeting we were encouraged that meeting in house churches for a time is not only a safer option, but also a positive one – there were testimonies that we heard of how much people valued that experience – they grew in their faith, and it opened up some missional opportunities that weren’t there in different settings.
So, we do need hosts and we need people to gather to meet for worship, to invite others to join in on that – and to journey along together and to see what it is that God is saying during this season to us.
It is gathering around Christ and his gospel and sharing that with others that brings life and fruit, there is nothing that can substitute that.
Kia kaha and God Bless.