November 1, 2021

Hello Runnymede Congregation,

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a trying time for all of us. Social isolation, masks, and the disruption of many of our regular rhythms have added stress to our daily routines. Through it all congregations across the world have adapted to new conditions while also praying for an end to this season of uncertainty.

One of the issues that the pandemic has highlighted is the polarization of opinion across various groups. Christians are no exception. The bigger questions regarding the relationship of science and faith have come to bear on decisions around vaccinations and the proper relationship of church and government.

As a church we affirm that the ethical application of scientific principles (the search for truth about the natural world ) is not only compatible with Christian faith but is a logical outcome of belief in a Creator. If God created us with purpose and design then human beings, made in God’s image, can learn about and understand the Creation (Ge 1-2, Ps 8). The application of scientific learning to the human body has alleviated pain and suffering for millions throughout history. Scientists are not infallible, nor are the systems and societies in which they operate, yet by God’s grace much good has been done for human flourishing.

In the case of the current pandemic, we encourage all of our members who are medically able to be vaccinated. The available vaccines are one tool in a variety of responses which limit the spread of the virus. By being vaccinated, masking, distancing and adapting our activities, we reduce sickness and suffering in our neighbourhood and our city. We are “loving our neighbour as ourselves” as Jesus taught us (Mk 12:31). As we respond with care, we are standing with other Christians in the past who have been faithful witnesses to Jesus’ love by caring for sick neighbours and fellow citizens.

While Christians should be vigilant regarding government overreach, we do not see the current actions taken by our municipal, provincial and federal governments as repressive. They have been disruptive and inconvenient, but we affirm that we can suffer a little in order to prevent the greater suffering of an unchecked pandemic. This is in line with the apostles’ teaching in the New Testament that Christians should live at peace with all men and show respect to earthly authorities (Ro 12:18; 1 Pe 2:13-17). Our worship and faith is not diminished if, for this season, we are required to adapt our practice. Rather, we show our love for our fellow citizens by our participation in these temporary changes for the good of all.

In closing, I would encourage you to be vigilant about the sources of information which you use to arrive at decisions in these matters. Sadly, what began as the “information age” has devolved into the “disinformation age” with the result that many people feel as though truth is really just how one side or the other does their “spin.” There is much that exists on the internet for political purposes and not for the building up of our souls and bodies. Not everything that labels itself Christian online or offline is truly so. My personal advice is to speak to people who you know and trust in person. There are medically trained committed Christians who would be willing to share with you exactly what the science says and doesn’t say about these matters, and how it fits with God’s care and love for all of us. They are a wonderful resource to have access to as a congregation.

As always, I look forward to your questions on these important topics. May God continue to protect and preserve us as we look to the end of this pandemic.

Pastor John-Mark