15 Sep 2021
Dear Fellow Pastors, Leaders & Congregation Members
In recent weeks I have received calls and letters from pastors and people who belong to our churches, expressing genuine concerns about the Covid pandemic and our various Australian government responses.
These sincere people have important questions around vaccination, and the debilitating lockdowns restricting how we relate to one another as a society.
I will also be writing to my fellow Pentecostal Heads of movements, as I’ve been requested to do this as Chairman of the Australian Pentecostal Ministers
Many good people and fellow leaders have asked for my opinions as a denominational leader. They have expressed to me the real disquiet in our Churches concerning the restrictions we are experiencing. The reality is that we may continue to experience some of these restrictions into 2022, even after severe lockdowns are lifted.
I want to be really honest with you about all this, as this matter has been heating up across our fair land.
I’m on the record in my CRC National Chairman’s letters this year that I believe we all should get vaccinated ASAP.
I have been encouraging all the people in our Christian Family Centre Churches to follow Cathy and my example in this health matter. The only caveat is to outwork it in consultation with one’s general practitioner or medical specialist.
It looks like unvaccinated people will unfortunately have some restrictions placed on them. Europe and the USA are moving this way and some, or possibly all of our State/Territory Govt’s will be doing the same. It’s going to be a tough one to traverse and not just for Churches, but right across our communities at every level.
I just don’t know how this is going to be administered without huge offence.
Sadly there may be some social unrest in its implementation, especially in pubs, restaurants, entertainment and sporting venues, schools and universities etc. I pray the authorities are prepared for any backlash and are not caught flat footed.
Lead Pastors may have some very upset people in their congregations.
Along with your Boards you will need both courage and wisdom to sensitively and lovingly shepherd these hurting souls, without making them feel like second class citizens or social lepers. It’s a new challenge for us, so please seek help from your CRC Leaders, especially our State Chairmen and their Teams.
We must at this time earnestly pray for our PM and State Premiers and their Chief Medical Officers. May godly wisdom flow as they oversee Australia’s response to this terrible virus that is killing millions of people across the world.
I’m not naive, but I do basically trust all these very human and fallible officials.
Yes, they have made some missteps, and some have immaturely tried to score political points against one another, and this can dent our confidence in them.
However, I honestly cannot fault their motivation to keep Australians safe from this demonic virus. Let’s by all means vigorously question their methods and we have the right and duty to disagree with them at times, but let’s not doubt their sincerity in wanting to act in our best interests. Mistakes are inevitable by our political and health leaders, as this Covid-19 virus is quickly mutating, as we have seen with the very fast spreading Delta variant.
The world’s leading Epidemiologists haven’t dealt with such a widespread pandemic since the Spanish flu after WW1 in 1918, which killed tens of millions of people. I just accept that our Australian medical scientists are extremely worried, have huge pressures on them, are working inordinately long hours, but are learning from the mess that Europe and the USA are presently experiencing.
It’s mind numbing to realise that in the USA 1500 people a day are presently dying mostly among the unvaccinated.
- Florida which has 21.6 million people, had 7600 die of COVID in August.
- Australia with a population of nearly 26 million has had just over 1,000 deaths in nearly 2 years —(Australian Newspaper 7 Sept, David Charter)
Australia is doing well but we need most of our fellow Aussies to get vaccinated and we probably will need yearly booster jabs, as most over 60’s do with the latest variant of the flu virus.
A few weeks ago I compared the Covid deaths of NSW & VIC. I think the facts speak truth:
- NSW Covid deaths (143) & Victoria’s (820).
- Both States have had around 24,000 & 22,000 cases respectfully
- Most of these precious elderly souls in Victoria died in pre-vaccine 2020
…What an evidentiary argument in favour of vaccination.
These statistics can easily be downloaded from google and other reputable sites.
The Economist Magazine’s research is saying that over 18.4 million people have already died globally, though official government statistics say its 4.6
million—(The Economist August 2021 - The pandemics true death toll).
I’d also like to appeal to you not to sign off on any petition, no matter how well meaning it looks (like the Ezekiel Declaration), that could be linked to extreme fringe organisations or some new political party.
Eternity Magazine has some excellent informative and balanced articles about this— (Rev Tim Costello, 1 September; John Sandeman, 2 September).
Some groups are taking advantage of people’s lack of knowledge, genuine fears, anxieties, frustrations, emotional ill health, suspicion, mistrust & real anger in the community due to the terribly restricting aspects of these health measures.
I hate wearing masks in church services, and to sing through them is tortuous, and it’s just awful to minister Jesus’ Word to people who are masked.
It’s really surreal and I don’t quite get it all, but as a law-abiding citizen who follows the clear teaching of scripture, I submit to the authorities in this matter.
These are public health measures and they are affecting everyone in Australia and not just Churches. Whilst limiting our freedoms, they are not deliberately geared to restrict our religious liberties. There is no conspiracy here or some hidden anti-religious agenda.
If they were geared just for people who gather for religious worship and not any other social group, I would vigorously and peacefully oppose it. Hey, I would even passionately argue and agitate for a change of government at the next election.
When I travel overseas the Australian government and other National governments restrict my freedom to travel if I’m not vaccinated against some disease like yellow fever etc. If I don’t want to be vaccinated, then I must expect this will limit my freedom to travel to certain nations.
This is not religious persecution or discriminating against my religious beliefs.
It’s just a health measure by governments to ensure I don’t hurt other people by infecting them with a deadly disease.
I concur with the world’s foremost geneticist, Dr Francis Collins (Head of the USA’s National Institutes of Health with thousands of scientists).
As a committed Christ follower, he like millions of people prayed for a quick answer to deal with this wretched pandemic that was sweeping the world in 2020. He testified recently that the Lord answered these prayers - by producing a vaccine in record time - fully certified by the USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—Check out this inspiring man on YouTube.
Historians tell us that vaccinations and penicillin/antibiotics are the most significant medical breakthroughs ever, as they have saved hundreds of millions of lives—(UNICEF & WHO Statistics). Like Dr Collins, I think they are gifts by our good Heavenly Father who hates disease and wants to alleviate suffering.
I am constantly praying for you and all our CRC people, especially those of us who are still in lockdown. Having experienced it here in SA a few times now, I understand how awfully isolating it can be, especially if you are living on your own. It really has been disruptive to our regular church based ministries and we all long for some normalcy to return.
In times of great uncertainty and personal anxiety I keep reminding myself of the great promise found in Ephesians 3:20-21:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Jesus is still on His throne and I encourage you to keep affirming that nothing is impossible with HIM, and Jesus’ Church of which you are a part, is indestructible.
Apologies for such a long letter, but I needed to fully express myself on such an important issue. On a more positive note, I’m really looking forward to our ‘LOVE GOD’ CRC National Conference in a few week’s time (28-30 Sept).
I love you all dearly and you are in my daily prayers at this time.
Pastor Bill Vasilakis
Australian Chairman-CRC Churches International