Dear Church Members,

Due to the increasing risk of the coronavirus COVID-19, the priority of the health and safety of all church members and employees and on the advice of medical professionals, the Conference Board of Directors has taken action to cancel Big Camp 2020.

This was a difficult decision to make, as we all highly value the spiritual and social contribution of Big Camp to Church life in Victoria. The decision was made prayerfully, not driven by panic or fear, but recognising our need to trust in God to guide us to act wisely and responsibly in every situation and to avoid potential risk/pitfalls.  The old Indian proverb seems relevant, “Pray to God but row away from the rocks.”

Given the current developing situation, the decision was necessary.

Key information which assisted in this decision included:

–        The Coronavirus COVID-19 being declared as a pandemic on 11 March 2020 by the World Health Organisation (WHO),

–        Advice from the Victorian State Government Health Department to cancel the event, given the risks associated with communal gatherings involving such a large number of people where there is need of communal use of amenities and facilities over an extended period of time.

–        Advice to cancel Big Camp in 2020 from a significant number of Adventist Doctors and other health professionals from our membership in Victoria.

–        The recommendation from the Australian Union Conference that all Conferences running Easter Big Camps cancel in this current environment given the significant potential risk to our constituents and staff.

–        Both NNSW and WA Conference have cancelled their Big Camps as well as their Grey Nomads camps for 2020.

–        A risk assessment of Big Camp revealed that even with the implementation of strict control measures, that the probability remains LIKELY, risk remains HIGH, and consequences would be MAJOR.

–        Input was sought from key stakeholders via email and website. A significant number have responded and overwhelmingly, without denying our trust in God at a time like this, the vast majority of responses shared were that to cancel Big Camp 2020 would be best, wisest and the most responsible way forward.

Over the coming days, the finance team will be refunding in full all application/meal ticket fees for Big Camp 2020.

We encourage all of our churches and members to take necessary precautions to ensure the health of their family. At this stage, no other Conference events have been cancelled and we recommend that church gatherings continue as normal with general preventative measures. Please familiarise yourself with recommendations by state health authorities in this situation.   You can find more information and links to resources at the following link: https://vic.adventist.org.au/health-safety-alert-coronavirus-information/

Yours Faithfully,

Graeme Christian, Conference President

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