Uniting Church ministry to fire-affected communities
The Uniting Church community in South Australia has banded together to support those experiencing hardship and loss from the bushfires across the Adelaide Hills. With 32 homes destroyed, the physical impact is clear. The emotional hardship is not so visible, and the recovery process for those who have lost their homes will be long and difficult.
Relief and outreach centres have been opened around the fire zone to assist the recovery by providing practical help through chaplaincy and pastoral support. Local residents are coming together in their time of need at the Golden Grove Relief Centre and the One Tree Hill Institute, where chaplains are on the ground.
Wendy Perkins leads the team of chaplains from the ecumenical Disaster and Recovery Ministries as the Post-Disaster Ministries Coordinator in South Australia. She has been amazed by the amount of people willing to volunteer their time and be a listening ear for those who need it most.
“Our chaplains are out on the ground ready to meet people and offer their support,” Ms Perkins said.
“We’ve had a positive response to the ministry of the chaplains and it has been greatly appreciated so far.”
National Disaster Recovery Officer of the Uniting Church Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson emphasised the need for support long after the bushfires have been put out.
“The recovery is just starting for people who lost their homes in the bushfires, there’s still a long way to go,” said Rev. Dr Robinson.
“We need to think beyond the days and weeks and look to the months and years ahead.”
Rev. Dr Robinson encouraged people to make a donation to the National Disaster Relief Fund, which assists in providing services such as counselling and pastoral care. This process involves ministers and communities coming together to discuss the recovery and form a long term plan to rebuild. Previous initiatives resourced by the National Disaster Relief Fund have enabled local congregations to host school holiday programs and offer counselling, also providing practical relief from hardship.
The Uniting Church in Australia encourages its members to extend their thoughts and prayers to all affected at this difficult time. To donate to the National Disaster Relief Fund call 1800 772 851 or visit https://assembly.uca.org.au/national-disaster-relief-fund/. The South Australian Synod is also calling for donations to the Bushfire Relief SA 2015 appeal at https://sa.uca.org.au/pastoral-relations/uniting-church-sa-relief-fund. All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.
Photo courtesy Rev. Sandy Webb SA
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