Thursday, 13 February 2020

Fire crisis brings flood of prayer

President Rev Dr Ahio of FWCT with Australian Ambassador Adrian Morrison President Rev Dr Ahio of FWCT with Australian Ambassador Adrian Morrison

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Dr Deidre Palmer has expressed heartfelt thanks to overseas partner churches for their extraordinary compassionate response to the recent bushfire crisis.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion from churches all around the world, who’ve kept us in their prayers right through the bushfire crisis,” said Dr Palmer.

Heavy rain driven by a low-pressure system off Australia’s east coast has put out all but a few of the major fires that have been burning since December 2019.

In a message to all Australian churches earlier this year the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches Rev. Dr Olav Tveit said:

“Together with you, WCC member churches around the world are praying for respite from the heat and the flames.”

“Together with you, we lament the unimaginable losses suffered – of precious human lives, of homes and livelihoods, of so many animals and so much bushland and forest, and of so many affected communities’ sense of security.”

On Australia Day, the Pacific Conference of Churches held a special vigil service in Suva to pray for Australia, our people, our environment, wildlife, and the losses experienced by so many as a result of the bushfire crisis.

Special focus was given to our first peoples, recognising the impact the fires are having spiritually and culturally where identity is so strongly tied to land and place, and where millennia of sustainable stewardship is being lost.

UnitingWorld’s Bronwyn Spencer was in attendance at the service and read out letters from Dr Palmer and UAICC National President Rev. Garry Dronfield.

Donations have been collected from many of the UCA's Pacific partners and others including Tonga National Council of Churches, the Congregational Christian Church in Samoa, Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu, Methodist Church in Fiji, Pacific Conference of Churches, Pacific Theological College, and Anglican Diocese of Polynesia among others.

“To stand together with our Pacific brothers and sisters in this, our time of need, is truly humbling, moving and encouraging. To know of their generous love, support and prayers is hope for us and speaks of true partnership,” says Bronwyn.

Bishop Rev. Dr Bunu Samantaroy of the Church of North India, also reached out to the UCA.

“Please know that each one of you is in our prayers,” he said. “We will continue to pray and do whatever we can. God bless you.”

The President of the UK Methodist Conference Rev. Dr Barbara Glasson and her Vice President Professor Clive Marsh wrote:

“Although there are many miles between us, we want to assure you of the closeness of our love and solidarity. We pray that you will know the love of God in Christ Jesus from which nothing in all Creation can separate us.“

The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, the Global Ministries Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ in the US, the United Church of Canada and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan all sent messages of support and prayer.

“At the UCA Fiji National Conference in Adelaide last week, I was delighted to be able to thank the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji Rev. Dr Epineri Vakadevawosa in person for his Church’s compassion,” said Dr Palmer.

“Uniting Church members can feel enormously encouraged by knowing that in our time of trial, our sisters and brothers in Christ from the global communion of churches were right there with us.

“It is a great comfort to experience the solidarity of our Christian community, and to convey the love and compassion of our neighbours, who are there alongside us in our grief and pain, as many of our communities face a difficult recovery ahead.”