President launches National Bushfires Appeal
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney has launched a national appeal to support those facing loss and hardship from the bushfires in New South Wales.
“The fires have destroyed and damaged hundreds of homes in the Blue Mountains and nearby areas and are still burning out of control,” said Assembly President Rev. Prof Andrew Dutney.
“At this time we ask Uniting Church members across the country to pray together and offer their support for all the people affected.”
“Many families have lost their homes and these communities face a long and painful process of rebuilding. I know that many members of our Church would want to be supportive at this difficult time.”
There are ten Uniting Church congregations and faith communities in the Blue Mountains area, and several congregation members have lost homes.
The fires are the worst NSW has experienced for at least 45 years and a state of emergency has been declared across the state.
“I encourage those thinking about how to help to make a donation through the National Disaster Relief Fund,” said Rev. Prof. Dutney.
Donations of $2 or more to the National Disaster Relief Fund are tax deductible. A variety of donation options including a secure online donation facility are available via the Assembly website at https://assembly.uca.org.au/bushfires
The Assembly’s National Disaster Recovery Officer Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson has co-ordinated the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN) since its formation in 2009. The DRCN is trained, resourced and coordinated by the Uniting Church. Its chaplaincy teams have been working in all the major evacuation centres since the emergency began.
Since the fires broke out Rev. Robinson has been working around the clock to ensure chaplains from a variety of denominations and faiths have been available at evacuation and recovery centres.
“The current bushfire emergency is the most serious I’ve experienced in 17 years of involvement in bushfire response,” said Rev. Dr Robinson.
”I’m sure you will all be joining me in praying for the safety of people and homes and for all who are serving to protect life and care for so many.”
“Teams of chaplains from a wide range of denominations have been active in five communities, some on a 24 hour basis.
“With many fires out of control, unfavourable weather conditions and high fuel loads I expect our resources will be stretched to the limit to support local communities.”
Synod peer supporters have also been working to provide pastoral care, support, resources and knowledge of disaster recovery. They support the work of local churches in affected communities, working in conjunction with the NSW/ACT Synod and affected presbyteries to ensure that the Uniting Church gives due duty of care to those affected during, and after, the bushfires.
“At the moment cash donations are the most beneficial,” said Rev. Robinson.
“Donating money is much better rather than donating goods. It makes it easier for workers to meet needs on the ground quickly and efficiently.”