No mandatory vaccine to attend Presbyterian churches

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Rev Joy Abdul-Mohan. –

ALTHOUGH strong vaccination advocates, general secretary of the Presbyterian Church (PCTT) Terrence Warde said vaccination it is not a requirement to attend church.

“The PCTT will not attempt to hinder attendance at any of our 108 churches, regardless of your vaccination status.

“All are welcome to worship at our churches regardless of your vaccination status. Our churches have instituted the necessary health protocols,” he said at the church’s national convention on Saturday.

For the first time in the church’s history, the national convention was live-streamed from the St Andrew’s Theological College, San Fernando, with just a few members in the audience.

Warde quoted former moderator Rev Brenda Bullock almost prophetic statements in 2012 to describe the importance of the convention.

“Our national convention reminds us that even though we may feel separated from each other, or even alone at times, please bear in mind that we are never separated or alone. This gathering allows for a visible impact of God’s people in one place bearing witness to what God has done for the Presbyterian Church,” Bullock is quoted as saying then.

Current moderator, Rev Joy Abdul-Mohan agreed the virtual gathering could not compare to a physical convention.

She said while there were fear and doubts, she was encouraged by the comments of those locked on via the many social media platforms and the youths who led the worship service.

She said covid19 has caused the church to make a paradigm shift at this time and beyond.

“The PCTT did not stop existing because our church buildings were closed. Not at all,” she said in reference to the temporary closure of churches to prevent the spread of the covid virus. Presently, only 25 per cent of the congregation is allowed to worship at any one service.

“Rather it clarified what being the church meant and compelled us to engage in the missional opportunities in our current changing context.

“We continued to worship online, but we also continued to reach out to God’s people who were not even Christians, people who we did not know and even to our migrant sisters and brothers.

“We reached out to them and gave the best that we could and they were grateful.”

She said they partnered with many international and local organisations, to strengthen, not only as a church but, unity as a people of TT.

“Maybe there’s a silver lining in all of this for the PCTT. Way before the pandemic hit, churches, including ours, were struggling with the question of how to be more relevant and compelling in our context.

“Many churches like ours have been wondering what the future holds for the church and whether they will be able to survive.”

Hence, the reason, she said for a paradigm shift to transform the model by which the church takes form.

“For the PCTT as a church to survive, it needs to be robust in its missional focus and identity by seeking out the ostracised and marginalised through active pastoral care and compassion.

“We need to embrace our reformed heritage and missional responsibility. But it’s hard for us to do that at times when we have grown accustomed being church only within four walls and not going beyond these walls.

“This global pandemic taught us more about what it means to be the church beyond four walls

“The work and mission of God’s church must not cease in a time of crisis.

“We can use this new experience as an opportunity for spiritual growth and to strengthen relationships,” she said.