Over the past six weeks, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has spread from China around the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared it to be a pandemic. As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for others and one another, creating safe working and meeting environments. We need to be involved as part of the solution rather than potentially becoming part of the problem.
Reviewing the latest developments and the advice from the WHO, the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), and Public Health England, the Trans-European Division Administrative Committee took action on March 12, 2020, to cancel all major TED events between now and the General Conference session, which starts on June 25, 2020, in Indianapolis, United States. This includes:
- Global Youth Day (TED participation canceled)—March 21
- Family Life Training—April 14-19, Spain
- GAiN Europe—April 24-28, Romania
- Hope Channel Leadership—April 28-30, Romania
- Pathfinder and Bible Experience (PBE)—April 25, the Netherlands
- Ellen G. White Symposium—May 1-3, United Kingdom
- Master Guide Camp—June 4-7, Estonia
Information on future developments and possibilities for rescheduling events for a later date will be uploaded on the TED website in due course.
The TED apologizes for the inconvenience and disappointment caused by this decision and continues to pray for all those who are being affected in so many ways by this pandemic.
March 17 Update
On March 17, following government advice that “everyone should work from home if they can,” and in full consideration that we have a responsibility for all staff health and well-being, TED leaders voted “that all staff should work from home, if they can, until April 20, 2020.” Leaders said they recognize some core functions require a presence in the office, and there is also provision for those who voluntarily wish to come to the office.
In an e-mail to Adventist Review, TED communication director Victor Hulbert confirmed that all scheduled meetings will continue as planned via video link.
“Staff are continuing to work effectively and creatively to provide appropriate support during this difficult period,” he wrote.
Across the TED
Precautions and government advice are equally affecting other parts of our territory. For instance:
- Greece, Norway, and Denmark have currently closed all their churches or worship spaces. Ireland is closing its larger congregations and providing an interactive worship experience from the main church in Dublin.
- In Hungary, all churches with more than 100 attendees have been shut, and members over age 60 or with chronic diseases are advised not to attend meetings. This is based on a government request. Currently, all union programs are canceled, including all international and domestic travel.
- In the United Kingdom, Stanborough Secondary School has been closed following National Health Service advice. This is due to an adult who is close to the school being treated for “suspected coronavirus.” A number of churches are closed for worship, and the annual door-to-door collection for ADRA has been canceled.
- Newbold College of Higher Education announced on March 16, 2020, that it is transitioning to distance learning. Staff have had to withdraw from a number of events across Europe, and the spread of the coronavirus has also impacted a number of visits, international student programs, and other events being run at the college, such as the British Union Conference final for the Pathfinder Bible Experience.
- The North American Division has instituted an international and domestic travel ban and canceled or postponed events effective March 13, 2020. The General Conference has also instituted a travel ban for their staff for at least the next 30 days. It is anticipated that much of General Conference Spring Council in April may happen via videoconferencing.
The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.