God’s grace and peace be with you.
The bushfire emergency that has unfolded across our nation in these past weeks is unprecedented in its scale and the devastation caused.
As President and Moderators of the Uniting Church in Australia, in addition to our earlier communications, we offer this Pastoral Letter to our Uniting Church members and communities across our nation as an expression of our shared grief, our deep gratitude to those involved in the incredible emergency response and our commitment to be part of the long-term recovery in communities.
At this time, we join as Uniting Church members across Australia, in offering our deepest sympathy to those mourning loved ones, friends and community members who have died protecting lives and property.
We pray for those who have lost property and for those who remain in fire zones or evacuation centres.
We acknowledge that many have endured weeks of stress, anxiety and continued smoke inhalation. The sheer scale of this disaster has been traumatising for many people, the effects of which will linger for many months to come.
We pay tribute to the extraordinary effort of our emergency services on the frontline, particularly firefighters in various services across the country.
We give thanks to the many who have given their time and resources to provide practical and pastoral support in evacuation centres and at relief points, including many Uniting Church chaplains working around the clock to be there when needed.
For all in the Uniting Church who are involved in the response, we thank you. We give thanks for the ways you are bearers of Christ’s hope and compassion in disaster recovery ministry across the nation, and in opening your doors, as congregations, to provide shelter, food and a safe place.
We give thanks for the stories of amazing courage and goodwill in the community, and for all who have pitched in to support the displaced and the responders.
Amid the most tragic of circumstances, incredible kindness has been demonstrated in small acts and large-scale fundraising efforts.
We lament that God’s beloved creation, is hurting. The toll on our wildlife, biodiversity and our natural heritage is incalculable.
It is our Christian belief, that amid such suffering, God is with us. We ask Uniting Church members across the country to join in prayer for all those suffering, to know God’s love, grace and comfort.
In the very long road to recovery ahead, the Uniting Church will continue to provide support to recovering communities through pastoral care and other relief projects in the months to come.
We encourage you to do what you can to practically and pastorally support those who are rebuilding their lives and communities.
If you would like to support bush fire communities with a donation, below are the various Synod and Assembly appeals and funds which will provide long-term support to communities as they recover.
Yours in Christ,
Dr Deidre Palmer
President Uniting Church in Australia
Rev Simon Hansford
Moderator, NSW / ACT Synod
Rev Denise Liersch
Moderator, VIC / TAS Synod
Rev David Baker
Moderator, QLD Synod
Rev Steve Francis
Moderator, WA Synod
Rev Thresi Mauboy
Moderator, Northern Synod
Mr Bronte Wilson
Moderator, SA Synod
Some Synods have issued their own pastoral statements which you can find in the links below:
(This was originally posted on assembly.uca,org,au, 13/01/2020)