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Urgent Appeal From New Zealand Churches

It is a very sad day in New Zealand when Bars and Brothels can open, but the Church cannot.

This letter was sent to the Prime Minister and Parliament yesterday from over 75 major Christian Leaders of denominations / Movements / Churches, across the spectrum of the church in NZ.

Dear Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern,

Cabinet and Members of Parliament

We write on behalf of the many churches/denominations represented from around New Zealand.

The leaders listed below in turn represent hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.

Please note the wide spectrum of Churches, Denominations and Church Movements. We are aware that many other churches and denominations have already written to you with the same request. Firstly we would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the massive effort you have all made to keep New Zealand safe.

We all acknowledge the impact that COVID-19 has had on New Zealand and our Kiwi way of life. We are very proud of what we achieved as a nation in relation to the virus, and recognise that without your leadership things may have looked very different.

The church has been praying for you, the government, in this crisis for wisdom to make the right decisions. We will continue to pray.

We understand that many individuals, families, businesses, community groups and our nation at large have made huge sacrifices to come close to the elimination of COVID-19. We are also aware that we

are not yet out of the woods. As we move to level two, we as churches desire to do all we can to keep people safe both physically, mentally and spiritually and help the nation to get back on our feet.

In this time of uncertainty and disruption, people do need a sense of support and normality.

The church has been the cornerstone of communities ever since our nation was founded.

The church is a community of faith, hope and love, providing both practical care and friendship to families, and to those who are alone, to a very significant portion of our population.

With the breakdown of the family unit, along with neglect and abuse, there are many in our society who are struggling with deep hurts, mental health issues which produce both emotional and financial needs.

As you are aware, all these concerns increase during a crisis like we are currently experiencing. Churches are also first responders, providing love and support in a vast range of areas, both practical, emotional and spiritual. Helping those at times of bereavement, depression, marriage struggles, suicidal tendencies and so forth. There are isolated and vulnerable people for who their church is the only place they can find connection. In our current crisis the holistic support of the church is needed more than ever.

We would even suggest it an essential service, as the spiritual health of a nation is just as important as physical health.

Most businesses, schools, restaurants, movie theatres, cafés and retail outlets have now been given the freedom to operate with the necessary restrictions and safety measures in place.

Whilst we understand the reasoning of having public groups of no more than 10 (50 now at funerals) we believe and would argue that our church people are generally highly responsible and hopefully

better behaved on the whole compared to some behaviour at late night bars etc. It is far easier for us to track and trace, because we already know our church families.

We are not asking to be open seven days a week until all hours. Church gatherings mainly take place on one day of the week.

We would like you to consider that churches be able to resume services with the same restrictions and safety measures in place that other sectors of society are operating under. As bars are allowed to reopen, surely the church, as a place of nurturing, stability and support in the community should be able to open as well.

If you have faith in business owners, we request you also have faith in us.

While we acknowledge that churches are a place of fellowship which can lead to close contact and increase the risk of the spread of COVID-19, no church would want to see any members of their congregation infected or worse, spread COVID. Therefore we would have all the requirements in place to ensure the health and safety of those attending.

We are extremely disappointed as we feel our vital role in the community has been overlooked.

We also request consideration that we are not just given a set number in attendance (i.e. restricted to 100,) but be given the permission to allow church gatherings of 50% of the church seating capacity. This will allow for good adequate social distancing. We believe that this would be safer than aircraft seating, bars, restaurants etc. We look forward to your favourable and quick response.

Yours Sincerely,

The Office of

Ps Peter Mortlock

City Impact Church

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