The Archbishop of Sydney’s development agency, Anglican Aid, has launched an emergency appeal to help communities hit by a crippling drought in Western New South Wales. The state government says that 99 per cent of NSW is now in drought and it has launched its own emergency aid package. The Church’s aid efforts will provide resources to churches in north and western New South Wales, which are already dealing with requests for practical support for families impacted by what, in many places, is the worst drought since 1900.
The NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, said this drought has quickly worsened across NSW because June and July were drier than expected. “We said we would constantly reassess the conditions and relief measures, and the fact we’ve now increased our drought-relief package to over $1 billion [AUD, approximately £0.57 billion GBP] is a reflection of how serious this drought is, and how much we value the health and wellbeing of our farming and regional communities”, Barilaro said.
“The suddenness of this drought has caught many by surprise,” the Vicar-General of the Armidale Diocese, Brian Kirk said. He added that the Church’s help will be much appreciated by rural families; and he asked Christians to pray for rain, for farming families and businesses in rural communities, for farmers to make wise decisions and that Christians will not lose their faith in God.
Clergy and church members are proactively offering assistance to farming families by providing food and clothing vouchers and visiting to provide practical and pastoral support, including free labour to assist with the feeding of stock, maintenance and everyday chores as well as providing free drought dinners.
Funds donated through the Anglican Aid appeal will be disbursed through the Anglican dioceses of Armidale and Bathurst.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has written to churches across Sydney asking them to contribute funds.
“We welcome the NSW Government’s announcement this week of an additional $500 million in drought relief, but governments cannot do it all alone”, the Archbishop said. “We as Christians with the bounty of our resources should show the generosity of Spirit – generosity prompted by the Holy Spirit – to give to those in need.
“However, we should also pray for rain. Our heavenly Father delights in his children bringing their requests before his throne, so I would also appreciate it if you could offer special prayers for rain this coming Sunday.”
The Archbishop has suggested the following prayer:
Our heavenly Father, we acknowledge our ingratitude when we have taken your goodness for granted, when the heaven has poured forth rain and the earth has produced its fruit. Yet now we cry to you for help, as the drought in New South Wales deepens. Have mercy on our land; have mercy on the people of the land. May your bountiful hand send forth rain upon our parched earth. Fulfil your promises that while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest shall not cease, so that those in remote and rural areas may find relief from their distress and glorify your name for the provision of their needs. We ask this in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.