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Provincial Synod backs Covid-19 vaccinations

Provincial Synod has called for the mandatory vaccination of clergy against Covid-19, and urged lay Anglicans to “to seriously consider vaccination as an act of love for both ourselves and our neighbour.”

Synod, meeting online, voted today for a resolution which said vaccinations for clergy are necessary because they visit people who are vulnerable to Covid-19 infection. The resolution noted that numbers of people in church congregations are vulnerable as a result of of age or comorbidities.

The vote was taken after a presentation to Synod earlier this week by Professor Koleka Mlisana, co-chair of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Coronavirus, which raised concerns about declining vaccination rates.

Professor Mlisana told the synod that South Africa should be vaccinating 300,000 people every day, but in the 24 hours ending on September 21 had vaccinated only 195,000. The average number of people being vaccinated every day had declined by nearly 10 percent compared to a week earlier.

In another presentation to the synod, Professor Adrian Puren of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases also highlighted the importance of vaccinating as many people as possible.

Some opposition to mandatory vaccinations was voiced on grounds ranging from selected individuals being advised against it by their doctors to concern that clergy were not employees. However, when put to the vote the resolution was passed by a majority.

The full text of the resolution follows:


This Provincial Synod

Noting that

1. The declaration of a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation for the COVID-19 virus has also affected our common life as church. 

2. The expertise developed by the WHO and world’s medical scientists point to vaccinations as key to defeating the pandemic.

3. Our prophetic stance requires that our response takes into account the consensus of medical science that vaccinating as many people as possible is necessary to bring the pandemic under control.

4. The Archbishop in his charge reminded us that “in a deadly pandemic, the right of your neighbour to Life inevitably circumscribes your right to do as you like”, and “further asked us to “to take seriously our prophetic role in society when we debate this matter.”

5. There are diverse views regarding vaccination and there are those who believe strongly in vaccination and those that are opposed to vaccination.

6. That in 1 Cor 8:9 in dealing with an issue dividing the church over food offered to idols, Paul urges ‘But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.’


1. The work of the ACSA  COVID-19 Advisory Team in its advice and guidance to the Province and commending  the information video they have made available  for use within all worship services.

2. That the COVID pandemic continues to wreak havoc in our common life as parishes and affects both clergy and laity alike.

3. That the National Covid Command Council in South Africa predicts a likely fourth wave later this year.

4. The fact that vaccinations have not always been used for good and that this has caused fear and suspicion in the hearts and minds of our communities and our members.

5. The controversy and debate around the science of vaccinations as well as the need for compulsory vaccination which is adding to vaccine hesitancy in our communities and members.

6. That our theology as Anglicans encourages us to be bound by ties of love and also to remember that we are our sister and brother’s keeper.

7. The need for a theological response which will assists our member to engage with the scientific and legal debates and be able to journey in the deepening of our faith to live in fullness to our calling.

Resolves to

1. Support the call from the Archbishop for the mandatory vaccination of all clergy on the grounds that of necessity they have to be close to other people, they visit vulnerable people to provide pastoral care and numbers of people in our congregations are vulnerable by virtue of age or comorbidities. 

2. Request the ACSA Covid Advisory Team in collaboration with the Southern African Anglican Theological Commission’s Chairperson to prepare a theological response to guide the wider church in fulfilling its prophetic role regarding its position on vaccination and that this be available to the Dioceses by the end of October 2021 for ongoing education of our members. Urges all laity to seriously consider vaccination as an act of love for both ourselves and our neighbour.

3. Encourage all to continue to be vigilant in observing all protocols and regulations relating to the prevention of the further spread of the virus.

4. Request the ACSA Covid Advisory Committee to make available inputs on vaccination to all Dioceses via social media by Prof Adrian Puren of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and Prof Koleka Mlisana, co-chair of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Coronavirus. 

5. Request that statistics on vaccinations within ACSA be reviewed at Provincial Standing Committee in 2022. 

Proposed: Ms Tebogo Molefe, Diocese of Johannesburg

Seconder: Bishop Raphael Hess of Saldanha Bay

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