From the Bishop

2018 Easter message from the Right Reverend Trevor Edwards, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

Plenty of opinion polls tell us that Australians are disillusioned with their leaders. In this Easter week disillusionment has hit the sporting arena with disastrous choices by the Australian cricket captain.

Basic to being a leader is that people want to follow you. If they only do what you want because of threats or punishment, you may be an absolute ruler, but you are not a leader.

While gloom and cynicism about leadership seem widespread, every now and then the negativity is punctuated by light and we see true leadership. Only last week a brave French gendarme, an avowedly devout Catholic Christian, swapped places with a checkout assistant being used as a human shield by a brutal terrorist, and was shot dead as a result. Rightly named a national hero, he is a person we would be proud to follow.

People wanted to follow Jesus. The evidence of original sources and the facts about the beginning of the Christian movement point to this. Jesus deliberately rejected the sort of power admired in the Roman Empire or the priestly power of his religious enemies. In fact the Frenchman was imitating Christ, for both chose self-sacrifice, not self-promotion. Jesus also swapped places, taking the bullet humanity deserves for all its cruelty and greed. The effectiveness of Jesus’ sacrifice is demonstrated by his resurrection, an apparently impossible event that galvanised early Christians to follow Jesus to the death.

Jesus declares that he does not know those who use the church as a front for self-indulgence and power grabs. Real Christians are those who know Jesus and imitate his love, service and self-giving. This Easter I encourage you all to investigate the facts and consider whether Jesus is the leader you too might follow to forgive your past, transform your present and guarantee your future.

+Trevor Edwards

28 March 2018

Tathra

Pastoral Letter from the Right Reverend Trevor Edwards, Assistant Bishop & Vicar General

Friday 23 March

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

As you know the township of Tathra has been devastated by a bushfire in the past week. The lives of many have been turned upside down. After the initial shock of the event some are now dealing with the real grief of losing everything, while others are coping with severe guilt that their house was spared while their neighbour's was not.

Members of our church have been on the ground offering care and support from the beginning, including folk who had been evacuated because of the fire. We publicly acknowledge the role of our local clergy and many volunteers in the Anglicare Disaster Recovery Teams who were mobilised to support people in a time of intense uncertainty.

Some members of our Diocese have contacted us to find out what is happening so that they can offer help. We have been conferring the Reverend Stuart Haynes. who is our Priest in Charge at Bega, to devise a short-term and longer term response.

The Diocese is committed to ensuring that Stuart and the parish of Bega are properly resourced to give the leadership and care needed especially in the initial three months. We are working on a short term plan and will give you details of how you can assist when the details are finalised. Stuart has already opened St Martin's Tathra as a drop in centre and it will become a base for material, prayer and counselling support. Members of the Anglicare Disaster Recovery Team will be deployed to begin door to door visiting to ascertain needs and direct residents to where they can find help.

Secondly, Anglicare will launch an appeal in the next week to specifically raise funds so that folk in the area can access properly qualified counsellors to help them process any trauma. Anglicare's experience is that following a natural disaster, people require trauma counselling assistance in the medium to long term, so we want to be ready to offer help when they really need it.

Finally, I urge you to continue to pray for this community and the small congregation which is also grieving about loss and damage sustained by its own members. Ask God to give them the grace to be salt and light for Jesus at this time. Pray also for the ecumenical service planned for Easter Day at the local surf club that it might be an opportunity for healing to begin.

Prayerfully yours,

+Trevor

Vicar General

Message and call to prayer from +Stuart

Monday 19 March

Beloved in Christ,
You will no doubt be aware of the loss of property and homes — through fire — in the Parish of Bega and in particular, the community of Tathra. The Reverend Stuart Haynes and his team from Bega have been present at the fire-ground assisting with evacuations, caring for parishioners and helping where needed. Our General Manager, Mr Ament, will be in the area today assessing damage to Wambiri (if access is granted—as the community is in lock-down) and working through how best we can serve the wider community.

Bishop Trevor has full carriage of this matter and will give you updates as they come to hand. At this point, I would ask that you bring this matter before the Lord.

For Jesus,
+Stuart.

Heavenly Father,
We pray now for those in emergency services who are fighting fires and caring for those in distress.
We know property and stock have been destroyed and we ask you, O Lord, to comfort and uphold people in shock and those who have been injured.
Thank you for the ministry of the Reverend Stuart and Mrs Kathy Haynes and those who serve with them. Give them wisdom, grace, resilience and needed rest.
Please uphold Bishop Trevor and Mr Ament as they oversee and orchestrate a diocesan response.
May you be honoured and glorified in and through all that takes place in and through your people.
Thank you for hearing and answering this prayer.
Amen.

Update: Tues 20 March

Greetings. This will be my final note on the fire situation on the Coast. I’ll be packing and moving today and tomorrow. +Trevor will keep you apprised of developments from this point forward.

Archdeacon Carol Wagner advises me that her team(s) of clergy and lay people — especially those with disaster recovery training — have been engaging with people impacted by the fires and are offering excellent pastoral care.

There is also very good cooperation between the different relief agencies as needs are being assessed and as interim shelter and care programmes come on line.

Archdeacon Carol believes around 100 homes are now being listed as having being destroyed. This means many hundreds of people are homeless.

Our General Manager, Mr Trevor Ament, and Property Manager, Michael Stallard, visited the district yesterday and met with clergy, school and community leaders; those people expressed their gratitude to our diocese for the rapid and generous response. Anglicare has been universally praised.

Mr Ament also advised me that whilst our Wambiri site seems to have escaped the flames, the smoke damage is likely to be significant.

The Local Government website has information on donations: "The Tathra Fire Official Mayor Appeal fund has just been set up. Authorities are asking people who want to help to donate money to this official fund, they've asked us to thank everyone who has donated goods, they say there is now enough, and if people want to help they can ring 6499 2345 … and make a donation. That's the number for the Mayoral Appeal Fund. More information here: https://www.2ec.com.au/news/77419-how-to-donate-to-the-tathra-bushfire-victims"

You may wish to use the following prayer:

Almighty God, who alone created the beauty and the bounty of our land, who cares for and loves this diocese, uphold your people in Tathra and across the Bega Valley, we pray.
Please bring an end to the loss of homes, stock, fauna and property. Bring aid to the firefighters, emergency workers and disaster recovery teams who, by serving others, serve you. Give them courage and strength to persevere, to find the ability in their bodies and souls to keep working for another day or hour or minute. Ease the winds that have spread the flames and disperse the smoke that has covered the sky.
Please bring hope to the displaced and the homeless. Keep alive — in their minds and hearts memories — the traces of that which may be lost. Remind us that through Jesus, you hold the promise of a new tomorrow.
Be a comfort and relief to all who grieve and enable us to continue in showing your love and compassion.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


St Philip's Anglican Church, corner Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602
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