Horsham church holds separate services for vaxxed and unvaxxed worshippers
A Victorian pastor says churches are struggling with the conversation around COVID-19 vaccination, but are searching for ways to accommodate everyone.
The Horsham Church of Christ has begun running two services — one for fully vaccinated parishioners, and a smaller one with a cap of 50 people for those who are not vaccinated or do not wish to disclose their status.
The services are in line with Victorian government regulations.
Currently, there are no caps on religious gatherings where all attendees are fully vaccinated and screened.
And if attendees' vaccination statuses aren't checked, weddings, funerals and religious services are restricted to one person per four square metres and a cap of 50 people.
Pastor Simon Risson says the divided opinion over the vaccine mandate has been difficult for the church community.
"People who are vaccinated are feeling frustrated. A number of people who I've been talking to have felt the angst of losing friendships or unable to have the conversation and to seek understanding because they've felt quite … attacked in lots of ways."
Changes have 'huge impact' on church
Mr Risson says parishioners vaccinated and unvaccinated alike are feeling frustrated.
"I can certainly understand those who are vaccinated wanting to be safe, not just for themselves but for their children or grandchildren, and [if we are] around people who aren't vaccinated, it increases the risk. I understand all that."
Mr Risson says being with other people is an important aspect of the church's service.
"The church is built around compassion, care [and] an alternative to a way of life," he said.
"You just feel a sense of sadness and heaviness for our people.
"That we can't be gathering in the way we would like to, in the way we used to, and particularly for us at the Horsham Church of Christ, we have built our gathering and our community over being a multi-generational community of gathering so it's had a huge impact.
"The sense of gathering and sense of redirecting our hearts and our spirits towards someone and something greater beyond ourselves and our circumstances will be a great thing to do as a community again."