The Trinidad and Tobago Council of Evangelical Churches (TTCEC) has said they do not agree to mandatory vaccinations for churches or that chuches be made Safe Zones.

The TTCEC made their position known in a media release today following a meeting they held on Monday.

The following is the TTCEC’s news release.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Council of Evangelical Churches met with key stakeholders and leaders on Monday to discuss the impact of COVID-19, vaccinations and the church.

After careful consideration by all parties, below were the points that were agreed to by all.

The agenda outlined was in the form of three questions:

1. What is God showing you about COVID-19 and vaccinations?

2. What are the strategies you believe should be implemented?

3. What will be the determined factors for the success of what you have done?

Arising out the meeting came the following consensus:

1. Respect

• We agreed that we must all respect personal choices and free will, and that everyone has the freedom to choose with reference being made to Romans Ch 14: 1-5 ‘Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.

2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.

3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.

4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.’

• We agreed that we must show respect for each other and stop demonizing others because of their differences.

• We agreed that as believers, we must respect those in authority based on the scriptures as stated in Romans Ch 13:1-5 ‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will [a]bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.’

• We noted however, that respect for those in authority should not limit the churches’ voice on issues relevant to the health and wellbeing of the population as well as other issues of national interest.

• We noted that while we speak ‘truth to power’, we must avoid speaking in contempt.

• We agreed that even though we will have disagreements in the body, we must have tolerance. These disagreements should not change how we interact and relate to each other.

2. Education

It was noted:

• We should learn from each other.

• We should make informed decisions.

• We should build our immune system to help build natural immunity and maintain overall good health

3. Mandatory Vaccination

• The participants noted that our major emphasis was not to comment on the science of vaccination, particularly with regards to COVID-19. We agreed that it was a personal choice and everyone was free to choose to either be vaccinated or not, with no prejudice against them.

However, we unanimously stood against the idea of mandatory vaccinations for the entire population. It was agreed that mandatory vaccinations should not be forced on the church as stated in 1 Corinthians 6:12 12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not [e]helpful.

All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of [f]any.

• We agreed that the accessibility of other forms of treatment should be a deterrent for having a vaccine mandate and they should be considered as well.

• We agreed that churches should not be included under the safe zone policy of the state, as this could affect the separation of church and the state. Rather, we are encouraging churches to practice the necessary public health policies to help with the general safety and protection of congregants from contracting COVID-19.

4. Treating Covid-19

• While vaccination is at the forefront of the Government’s response to the pandemic, we believe that other measures can be explored, especially considering the level of hesitancy by certain groups of our population, thereby ensuring that the entire nation is protected and carried along in the fight against the pandemic.

• We agreed that monoclonal antibodies can possibly be effective in ‘treating with’ not necessarily as treating Covid-19. Additionally, it was agreed that these treatments can be used in the early phase of the disease, as many patients do not present with symptoms at this stage.

Other downsides to the use of monoclonal antibodies is that they are expensive and also very specific to the variant to which they have been prepared.

• All immunity is natural and can be vaccine-induced or infection-induced. To this end, we are not against the use of vaccines.

5. Focus

There were four areas identified:

• We should focus on unity in the Body of Christ and not be dismissive based on choices or beliefs.

• We should focus more on things that unify us than divide us

• We should focus on the central mission of the church, which is evangelism, and discipleship

• We should focus on loving relationships.”