Photo Credit: Tracey Nearmy (Reuters)
[ACNS, by Lucy Cowpland] The Anglican Church of Australia is responding to the bushfire crisis with words and actions as they seek to bring relief to the country. At least 25 people have died since September due to the fires and more than 63,000 square kilometres of bush, forest and parks have been burned.
Almost 2000 homes have been destroyed, and countless wildlife killed. The fires have been worsened by 40 degree Celsius temperatures and strong winds, creating difficult conditions for firefighters. Analysts predict the crisis could cost the Australian economy $20 billion AUD (approximately £10.5 billion GBP) in lost output.
The Melbourne Anglican Foundation Trust opened a bushfire emergency relief fund on 7 January as a practical way for communities to respond to the disaster which has spread across Australia over the past few months.
Donations made to the trust will be directed to those in need, in consultation with the bishops of the Victorian dioceses effected.
The Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn has released a pastoral letter in which he praised the Anglicare disaster response teams for their work in evacuation centres, and churches for opening their doors to provide spaces for reflection and refuge.
The Bishop of Gippsland also released a Pastoral Letter in which he said: “we commit ourselves to a sustained relief effort, working within and beyond our churches with people of good will to support those most affected by the fires and their aftermath, and to rebuild where hope has been lost”.
The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne has included a prayer graphic on their website saying:
All things look to you, O Lord,
To give them their food in due season
Look in Mercy on your people,
and hear our prayer for those whose lives
and possessions are threatened by fire.
Give protection and wisdom to fire fighters and
other emergency service personnel.
Encourage our generosity to those who suffer loss.
In your mercy restore creation and heal our land.
So guide and bless your people,
that we may enjoy the fruits of the earth
and give you thanks with grateful hearts,
Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The global response has focused on conversations around climate change. Last year was the hottest and driest year on record in Australia.
Green Anglicans, the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, have been very vocal in calling for action against climate change, particularly in relation to the fires in Australia. They have issued a prayer for Australia on their website, which includes the lines “In this world of changed and changing climate, God, we ask that you would help us to help those who are in immediate danger” and “call us to repent of all the ways we continue to make this world a place of death, rather than life”.