PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — A Bible camp in Canada is under fire for its stance on homosexuality, and one group is looking for another location to host its leadership event after the camp cancelled a “gay pride” speaker on its grounds.
Lake Ness Bible Camp, located in Prince George, is operated by the evangelical organization One Hope Canada, whose motto is “A passion for the gospel. A burden for Canada.” Hundreds of children and teens attend the camp each year to learn more about the Bible and to engage in recreational activities such as canoeing, paintball and ziplining.
The camp has policies for its rentals and require usage to be in line with the Christian values of the organization.
“I understand the purpose of Ness Lake Bible Camp as set forth in the Statement of Faith and the Mission Statement, and I confirm that the purpose of our organization is not in conflict with the camp’s purpose nor will it compromise the Statement of Faith by its actions or activities for the duration of our booking,” its rental agreement reads.
Last year, the Rotary Club of Prince George asked PG Pride Society President Stacey Hewlett to give a presentation on gender and sexuality during a youth award ceremony at the campground, but she was soon canceled by Lake Ness because of the subject matter.
The Club gave Hewlett the opportunity to speak on a different topic, but she declined. According to the Prince George Citizen, the Club also sought to convince the camp to change its policy.
“We said, ‘We’re basically paying you guys to rent your space and we’re not running anything illegal. We’re not doing anything untoward. This is simply a presentation for young adults,” President Ross Birchall told the outlet. “They wouldn’t budge.”
Now, the Club has decided to hold its events elsewhere because the two groups “have a fundamental difference” on matters of sexuality.
Lake Ness Bible Camp was also recently in headlines after a local school district discouraged staff from booking events at the location due to its stance on homosexuality.
“Some concerns were brought forward just regarding their overall organization and code of ethics and at this point it’s just an issue that’s being looked at by the board,” Distict 57 Vice Chairman Tim Bennett told reporters. “We just want to ensure that we have a healthy relationship moving forward.”
Part of the discussion was over a teenager who had previously served as a counselor at the camp but was prohibited from holding the position this year because she had posted favorable material about homosexuality on social media.
Julianna Ferguson, 17, says that she was told she couldn’t serve as a counselor because she might discuss her beliefs on homosexuality with other youth. She was offered other positions that would be away from campers, such as working in the kitchen, but declined.
“I could be there but not with campers if I signed something pretty much revoking what I believe,” she told the Prince George Citizen.
“We ask that all employees and volunteers involved with teaching or leading children share and adhere to those beliefs, as defined in our Statement of Affirmation,” One Hope outlined in a statement to the outlet. “For those persons who desire to serve but do not profess nor agree to live by those beliefs, we offer other opportunities at the camp that would not require them to violate their own consciences.”
Lake Ness Bible Camp has said that Canadian law allows the Christian organization to “define our beliefs and govern our organization accordingly.”