LCANZ Bishop Paul Smith and his Queensland District counterpart Pastor Mark Vainikka are calling on members of the church to pray for those impacted by the tragic unfolding flood crisis in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.
At least eight people have died in the extreme weather event that has inundated low-lying Brisbane suburbs, as well as the Gympie, Maryborough, Ipswich and Sunshine Coast regions of South-East Queensland and northern New South Wales communities, particularly the city of Lismore.
Many areas have reported a year’s worth of rain in just a few days, with some rainfall totals said to have exceeded 1000 millimetres in the past week. The ground floor carpark and entry to the LCA Queensland District’s (LCAQD) offices in suburban Milton on the banks of the Brisbane River have been flooded. It is expected the offices will be closed for approximately two weeks, during which time staff are working remotely.
In introducing an emailed message to the LCANZ, which earlier was shared by Bishop Mark with Lutheran communities in Queensland, Bishop Paul asked for the prayers of the church for those affected by the flooding.
Bishop Mark said that ‘the full extent of the devastation’ was ‘still to unfold’. ‘What we currently know is that areas from Gympie to the Lockyer Valley to Toowoomba have been affected and some areas are facing the heaviest inundation in decades’, he wrote. ‘Lives have been lost and properties damaged.’
What is known is that there are Lutheran congregations, schools, early childhood centres, aged care facilities and community services in all of the affected areas and LCAQD staff have been endeavouring to reach out to pastors and congregational leaders in those regions.
However, Bishop Mark said LCAQD did not have the capacity to contact every district entity and encouraged Lutheran communities impacted by the weather emergency to contact the district office via phone (07 3511 4000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org), so that the district-wide response could be appropriately targeted.
‘Our response as a church is twofold. Firstly, our primary response is prayer’, Bishop Mark said. ‘We commit ourselves, our loved ones and our communities to the Lord, knowing that amidst the devastation experienced, God journeys with us.
‘Secondly, we act. We respond in generosity and concern towards those who are in need. As a church in Queensland and northern New South Wales, we have responded with generosity again and again over the years. Dealing with storms and floods is part of living in Queensland and northern New South Wales. We have given generously of our finances and of our time in support of relief efforts. And in turn, we have been the recipients of the generosity of our church members from throughout Australia and New Zealand. I am sure, this time will be no different.’
Bishop Mark said the LCAQD’s Queensland Lutheran Giving, and its Australian Disaster Relief Project could ‘assist with financial support, from grief counselling to costs of debris removal to grants for primary producers’. The district will include a webpage for application forms and donations on the LCAQD website.
Members of the church are also invited to donate to help Lutherans and their communities (tax-deductible) via the LCA Disaster & Welfare Fund.
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