More than 100 Christians from every major denomination met outside Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral on Friday, 2 November to pray for the safe removal of asylum seeker children from detention on Nauru.
Those attending the vigil sang worship songs and heard from speakers such as Rev. Rebecca Lindsay from Hope Uniting Church in Maroubra and Dean of the Cathedral, Rev. Kanishka Raffel, who led participants in a time of confession.
Love Makes A Way’s Matt Anslow coordinated the prayer vigils.
“We welcome and commend the government’s plan to evacuate all refugee children from Nauru by year’s end,” Dr. Anslow said.
“But what will their future be? There must be a plan to resettle these children, their families, and every refugee unnecessarily confined to Nauru and Manus Island.”
The prayer vigil had Uniting Church members praying alongside Catholics, Anglicans, Hillsong members, Salvation Army members, and many others.
“I’m one of those willingly antiquated individuals who believes that prayer is transformational,” Dr Anslow wrote after the event.
“And for this Ana/Baptist to do that alongside Anglican priests, former-refugee-Hillsongers, Uniting Ministers, Salvos, Churches of Christ folks, Pentes — you name it — is more of a blessing and privilege than I can comprehend. I care deeply about the unity of the church, and I’m just so astounded by the strength of the church’s gathering around this issue.”
Similar events took place earlier in the day in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Canberra.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has ruled out any possibility that these children will stay permanently in Australia. This, he said, was necessary to ensure that asylum seekers did not risk the journey to Australia by boat.
“We’ve said very clearly that we don’t want boats to restart; people are not going to settle here permanently” Mr Dutton told Sky News.
The evacuations come following reports that asylum seeker children on Nauru showed signs of “resignation syndrome” and were refusing food and water.
The federal government previously spent around $275,000 in legal fees trying to prevent the medical transfers.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor