Kia ora koutou,
In these strained and strange times, we find ourselves in what are certainly unprecedented, even impossible, situations for most of us. Having thought that the worst of Covid was behind us, we are – as a country – facing the virulent Delta variant, and with that all the restrictions it brings to what we do and how we do it.
Earlier this week, the government announced that from 1 January 2022, primary and secondary schools and early learning services will need to maintain a register and ensure only vaccinated staff and support people have contact with children and students. And anyone carrying out high-risk work in the health and disability sector must now be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021.
As the BTI leadership, we:
Affirm that our identity is in Christ.
Vaccination status is showing all the hallmarks of an identity-defining practice and with it the taking of sides, one against another. At BTI, we want to be a community where we work to resist this divisiveness; dependent on Jesus to be the One who holds us, in our difference, together. There are many reasons and motivations behind people’s choices in this space – we must be careful with our attitudes, language, and assumptions. We recognise there are those who are anxious about catching Covid-19, and those who are equally anxious about the vaccine; there are those who support mandates and those who oppose them. Through Christ, we must be people who can feel, act, and speak with compassion – recognising the stress that is inevitably experienced when well-motivated and conscientious people come to different conclusions while seeking to remain in one community of fellowship.
Find our certainty in Christ
We are still waiting to see further detailed policy and advice on how vaccine mandates may be implemented. We are working closely with government agencies and others to clarify what is and what is not required. We appreciate that in the absence of more detail there is quite a lot of confusion. We want you to know that once things become clearer, we will send you more information as it relates to BTI. We also know that in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we can find certainty in Christ alone – and that is our prayer for you.
Point you to Christ
We want to point you towards our ultimate guide and leader, Jesus, who asks all who seek to follow him to love God first and to love their neighbour as themselves. From John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends/ E karangatia ana ahau e koutou, ‘E te Kaiwhakaako, E te Ariki,’ ā, he tika tā koutou kōrero, ko ahau hoki ia.” As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12, “God has put the body together… so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.”
Together we pray for God’s peace in these troubled times, in our hearts, in our whānau, in our fellowship with one another, in our nation, and in our world. We affirm our identity is in Christ, we find our certainty in Christ, and we point to Christ, in whom we live and move and have our being.
Ma te Atua tātou e manaaki, In God we trust,
Dr Andrew Butcher and the BTI Executive Leadership Team