Getting Covid-19 vaccine is loving our neighbour - Christchurch Anglican Bishop

From Checkpoint, 6:17 pm on 5 March 2021

The Anglican Bishop of Christchurch says he will be getting the Covid-19 jab when it is offered, because protecting one's community is the Christian thing to do.

The comments are in stark contrast to the position taken by Destiny Church's leaders who say they will not be vaccinated. 

Hannah & Brian Tamaki left Auckland hours before the alert level 3 lockdown, despite the Prime Minister's request that Aucklanders stay home. They held a service in Rotorua before travelling to the South Island.

In response Christchurch Bishop Peter Carrell tweeted a call for all Aotearoa church leaders to step-up and make it clear they would take the Covid-19 vaccine when it is their turn.

"I think we all need to be vaccinated. We're not going to win as a country if we're not going to be vaccinated. And as a Christian leader I would want to encourage Christians to particularly think about being vaccinated as part of loving our neighbour as ourselves. 

"In other words, it's a duty out of that love of neighbour to do what is best for our society."

Carrell said we may have concerns as individuals about whether to be vaccinated or not, "but to Christians I would say we believe in loving our neighbours as ourselves… and I care for my neighbour if I don't get the virus. And one way to not get the virus would be to be vaccinated.

"That's one of the reasons why churches are particularly keen to follow other government guidelines around our meeting practice together… We see that as part of our obligation to care for the wider society."

He said the role for New Zealand churches is to encourage every one of our members to think deeply and reflect well on what it means to love our neighbour.

"I don't think giving an edict from the pulpit saying, 'you must be vaccinated', necessarily helps. That may even have a counter reaction.

"But I think we can, from our pulpits and in other messaging ways, appeal to what it means to be a Christian, which is to love God and to love our neighbours. 

"I would imagine about 98 percent of church leaders in New Zealand are very clear that being vaccinated is part of that duty of care for our neighbour."

In Christchurch Carrell's Anglican diocese has been operating under level 2 restrictions. 

"We're managing as best we can. We've had a bit of disruption through the first lockdown that affected Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent… and on Sunday I was personally involved in a service that would have been an overflowing church, we were reopening the church, and we could only operate with 100 or less instead of about 350.

"It's disruptive and difficult, but it's also part of being a team of five million."