We acknowledge our fellow citizens, parliamentarians, magistrates and law enforcement officers, who in earnest, weighed the accommodation of religious freedom with the aim to reduce transmission of COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic. We consider it providential that the provincial mandates stipulating proof of vaccination for public venues, excluded places of worship. Our leadership team consequently ruled out requiring staff and volunteers to be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19.
Our Baptist tradition surrounding principles of soul liberty, freedom of conscience & voluntary cooperation informed valid reasons for dissent. We were driven not to exclude anyone from public worship, especially the victims of this crisis and/or the stigma associated with reluctance to be subject to the risk of vaccine injury. The lockdowns of independant small businesses & schools inflicted misery upon commerce & education. Stategic individuals among our membership subjected themselves to vaccinations & boosters, when deemed necessary, as precautions to safeguard the health of vulnerable individuals in our congregation who were shut-in, residents of long-term care facilities & patients in hospitals.
While complying with pandemic regulations we addressed the challenge to continue to host genuine congregational worship. The public health restrictions reduced in-person attendance to mere percentages of normal capacity. However, we were able to respond and remain faithful encouraging the virtual assembly of the congregation by implementing technologies such as Vimeo, Zoom, Facebook & YouTube Live-streamed video broadcasts.
From this point forward we have been conducting a hybrid form of worship by combining in-person attendance with virtual attendance. (aka: broadcasting) The Holy Spirit is invited, the Lord God is exalted, the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, meaningful precepts of Holy Scripture are preached, praise & intercession are displayed, holy hands are raised, hymns & choruses of worship are sung & strains of instruments are elevated. Our response to the restrictions bridged a gap that otherwise presented an impediment to discipleship and would have muted our calling to hold forth the Word of Life as a beacon of hope to the community of believers.
Otherwise, harsher restrictions that may have included proof of vaccination would adversely impact the church ministry and taken longer to recover from than we could have sustained. Some sister churches have become casualties of the pandemic. Other churches, depending on the prudence accompanying their response, are struggling with the ravaging effects of collateral fiscal damage. Fellow believers are beseiged by financial pressures on their household economy as they face increased expenses due to supply chain disruptions, increased energy & food costs and permanently changed life circumstances.
Some of our membership rationalized that the young & healthy body's robust system of natural immunity was, at least, a fair match for the reported mixed efficacy afforded with immunization by experimental gene therapy permitted by emergency use authorization, only. (aka: leaky vaccine) We observed a turning point in the crisis, due to it's higher infection incidence rate, but milder severity outcomes, that the Omicron variant became a Godsend. It virtually acted like a live un-attenuated form of vaccine spread by natural infection, sparing the population from decimation. Without this we may have met our demise if the Delta infections continued to go un-checked.
So, we stared at a very tangible threat, an unprecedented public health emergency with considerable unknowns that morphed into medical diagnoses, early treatments, and experimental mass-vaccination campaigns. In hindsight, we hope that such an invention as the vaccine passport never manifests again unless true, un-fabricated analysis is forthcoming that proves the real all-cause mortality rate in terms of the excess mortality rate trends consonant with the height of the mass-vaccination campaign period. Outcomes may reflect vaccine injury as the root cause and / or that existing biological drug / therapies could address the risk outside of an unreliable emergency use authorization process. We pray that the residual scientific evidence will be considerable, unfalsified and that it will be subject to solemn clinical examination & subsequent artifacts of rhetorical criticism will be persuasive in the not too distant future, should the Lord tarry.
Gratitude: Lifts our eyes off the things we lack so we may see the blessings we already possess.