Sunday, February 6, 2011
Church response to Queensland Floods
I spent last Friday at the Queensland Synod being briefed about the Uniting Church response to the Queensland floods. It's still difficult to get an overall picture because the church and church people are involved in all manner of responses. Donations to the National Appeal are coming in very strongly from individuals and congregations and other parts of the Church. I just heard today, for example, that the SHARE Appeal of the VicTas Synod is sending $100,000 to the Appeal which is fantastic. Uniting Church agencies like Lifeline are making their singular contribution. Donations to their Community Recovery Program have so far raised over $340,000.This program is designed to provide support to individuals and communites affected by such disasters. Local churches in flooded areas have been used to house people whose properties have been inundated. Congregations have sent clean-up parties to help with the heavy (and smelly!) task of removing sludge and slime from flooded homes. Frontier Services Patrol Ministers have been brought in to badly affected areas to offer their presence and their trauma expertise. Strategies are being developed to make sure the ministry of the church remains in these areas long after the media have left because the recovery and rehabilitation will take a long time. The other message I received loud and clear in Queensland was that material donations at this stage are not helpful. In fact they present more problems than they address. Agencies currently don't have the capacity to collect, store, sort or distribute the goods. So for those wanting to help, financial donations are still the most effective way to do so.