South Australia’s Sampson Flat bushfire was still raging when Assistant Bishop Tim Klein requested help for the SA/NT District from the wider LCA community early in January. Although the situation was difficult to assess at the time, there was enough information available to know that this was a circumstance where the church could give practical help to people in need.
Congregations and individuals responded, with donations totaling $73,000 received by the LCA Disaster and Welfare Fund. Congregations within the fire ground were encouraged to make submissions for assistance on behalf of both members and their communities.
Lobethal Lutheran Church, St John’s Woodside, Holy Cross Birdwood and Golden Grove Lutheran Church all made submissions for a range of assistance in their communities. Some requests were on behalf of members but others were focused outward into their communities.
Submissions totaling $47,000 were received on behalf of people who had experienced significant hardship through the loss of homes, farm or business infrastructure. In many cases, congregational members were already partnering with those affected to help them find alternative accommodation, replace household goods, clear damage and begin rebuilding lives.
The church community at Golden Grove requested $15,200 to help them transport and find a central storage location for donated and purchased hay. This is being distributed to members and others within their community who have animals to feed. One semi-trailer load has been already delivered but the congregation estimates they will need to find and transport at least two more semi- loads to meet demand for hay until spring.
One congregation made a submission on behalf of a high-ranking CFS volunteer officer, whose commitment to both his community and firefighting colleagues meant he had foregone a month’s income while carrying out his volunteer duties.
Lobethal Lutheran Church is also considering a submission on behalf of the Lobethal Lutheran School for funds to deliver an education and counselling program to children in the wake of the fires.
Requests totaling $68,200 were put before the LCA General Church Council executive on 19 February and release of the funds was approved.
‘We are humbled by the generosity of God’s people and pray that what they have given blesses the lives of individuals, families and communities as a sign of God’s love during a difficult time’, SA/NT Bishop David Altus said.
The South Australian appeal is closed, but the LCA Disaster and Welfare Fund was activated again in February, in support of Queensland communities affected by Cyclone Marcia.
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