It has been quite a heartbreaking start to the New Year as millions of Australians still try to comprehend the devastation of the bushfires which have affected every state in Australia. For many of us, there is a sense of helplessness watching on as weeks turn into months of fires continuing to burn and communities being devastated. We are deeply grieved, as faith communities, to see such a tragedy unfold in our nation. Our compassion and empathy for those who have lost moves us to respond.
We acknowledge that some of our Churches of Christ communities in the Adelaide Hills and South East have been directly impacted by emergency level fires. We have had no report of losses or need for assistance in these areas. However, we are deeply saddened by the loss of life and property in the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island fires and our hearts continue to break for these communities as they recover and rebuild.
Members of our churches have been involved as volunteer firefighters with the CFS responding to fires in the Adelaide Hills, South East, Kangaroo Island and interstate. We give thanks for them and the thousands of others who continue to fight fires around the country.
As the fires continue to unfold in Victoria and NSW with the impact still being realised, we pray for the afflicted to be comforted, for the light of hope to break in, and for the goodness and generosity of God to work through the availability and skills of those who are able to assist.
In November last year our office began to receive requests from churches seeking advice on how they could partner with, and help, Churches of Christ communities affected by fires in the Eastern States. At that stage, it was unclear how much communities had been impacted or what assistance may be required. We can now confirm there is a need for assistance in multiple areas where Churches of Christ is present including GMP indigenous ministry activities. The most effective way for us to provide relief to these communities is through a coordinated national recovery fund.
Churches of Christ national disaster relief is now being delivered through Global Mission Partners Extend. GMP Extend provides relief, welfare and support to communities in need. It is the only national relief agency operating on behalf of Churches of Christ in Australia. GMP Extend has just launched a Bushfire Recovery Appeal. Funds from this appeal will be directed though agencies and churches with the capacity to respond to local needs. Churches of Christ Agencies and local churches will be prioritised.
Donations in excess of $2 can be tax-deductible and are to be given via GMP Extend either by:
1. Bank transfer to Global Mission Partners Extend
BSB: 063 130 Account No: 1047 0548 Customer reference line ‘Bushfire Appeal’ - please also complete the online donation form that can be downloaded on - https://www.extend.org.au/our-projects/bushfire-recovery-appeal
2. Or calling the GMP office on 1800 467 222.
At the moment the GMP Extend Credit Card facility is still being finalised and will be made available as soon as possible.
We encourage Churches of Christ congregations in SA to dedicate time in worship this Sunday to acknowledge and pray for all affected communities and to consider contribution to the GMP Extend Bushfire Recovery Appeal.
Thank you for your ongoing prayer, compassion and support.
Acting State Minister
Churches of Christ SA & NT
Aldgate Church of Christ, The Village Well
What does it mean to find our unique story in God’s story and how do we hear it spoken through our interactions with others? While COVID-19 has certainly impacted us as a community it has reminded us of the story continuing to unfold in our liminal spaces, of creativity that is born in times of listening and contemplation. And, it has challenged us to be open to discerning how the Grand Storyteller finds creative ways to still reveal the Word.
The Studio continues to be a space of connection, relationship, mutual listening and evolvement. When we could not gather in groups or outside, chalk drawing appeared in the car park where neighbours would walk beside, a bare wooden cross among the gum trees became a place for anyone to leave a message, a prayer, a symbol of hope and we painted ‘au plein air’.
As The Studio recommences inside our building we begin connecting with members in the wider hills community to prepare for an exhibition, offering The Well as a place to share our stories through art. The Story continuing to move in all and through all.
I hope you enjoy reading some of the wonderful stories from our churches that will begin to drop over the coming days and weeks. We are using a new format to communicate how we are participating in God's mission. I am looking forward to receiving more stories from our churches to share across our movement, along with stories from our ministry partners Life Care, GMP and CareWorks.
In addition to sharing some good news from our churches we were keen to tie the look of the Newsletter in with the theme of this year’s convention; Participate: in life: in Christ”.
Participating in the life of Christ through union with Christ (Christ in me, I in Christ) is a New Testament theme that emerges throughout the apostle Paul’s writings, John’s writings and the New Testament more broadly. (Col. 1:27) We are invited in these New Testament writings to align ourselves with Jesus. We are to follow the lead of Jesus as we live out our lives and to seek to be in relationship with Jesus as our primary response to the call of the Gospel.
Our lives are full of participation; in our families, our workplaces, friendship groups and in society as a whole. We are also called to participate in the movement of the Churches of Christ and for these many reasons we see this theme as relevant for us at this time. Our hope is that our reflections at Convention will help us to think about how we participate in the Churches of Christ movement. We also hope it will help us to participate in life as a response to our participation in Christ.