The events of the past two days have been difficult for the people of South Australia and the Mid-North community. A bushfire which began 80km north of Adelaide at Pinery has devastated the region. At least two people have lost their lives, 13 people remain in hospital with serious or critical conditions. Many have lost property, livestock and belongings – with the full cost of the blaze yet to be determined.
I have spoken with a number of people living in these areas and have been moved by their stories. There are many who are shocked and saddened by the ferocity and devastation caused by the bushfires. They have expressed their thanks to people residing in their community who have responded graciously by opening up their homes, churches, sporting clubs and businesses to provide assistance and relief to those in need.
Those I have spoken with, have asked that the Uniting Church community pray for them: for the people who have lost loved ones, those hospitalised and those still displaced from their homes, that they experience God’s comfort and peace amongst the devastation.
Prayer is also needed for the firefighters, the police, emergency service workers and those offering practical, pastoral and emotional support at this time. Disaster and Recovery Ministries, coordinated by the Uniting Church, is deploying trained chaplains to Relief Centres as per our role in the State Emergency Management Plan.
A number of you have also contacted me asking what you can do to assist in this emergency. Along with prayer we are also asking congregations and/or individuals to make financial donations wherever possible. This can be actioned through the Uniting Church SA website, Bushfire Relief fund. This fund will be used to support Mid-North congregations as they discern how best to serve the people in the fire-affected regions.
There will be further opportunities for congregations to offer practical assistance in clean-up and recovery efforts by linking with organisations like Habitat for Humanity SA in the coming weeks.
I invite you this Sunday and in the coming weeks to remember in your prayers the South Australian communities who have been devastated by these fires.
We give thanks to God for those who are responding to the bushfire emergencies and those who are offering pastoral care and other forms of assistance to those who desperately need it at this time.
We pray that God will continue to sustain and strengthen these workers, as they carry on with much needed support and undertake the work necessary to contain the fire over the next few days.
In this time of deep distress for many people in our South Australian community, we stand with them in their grief. We are encouraged by the genorosity and selfless service of so many demonstrating kindness and compassion towards people in need.
Dr Deidre Palmer,
Moderator, Uniting Church in South Australia