A news update from Mallacoota, Victoria

Jude Benton leading worship on the beach as fires threaten Mallacoota (Credit: Eternity News, 2020)

A news update from the Parish Priest of Mallacoota, Victoria:

The Revd Jude Benton writes

Thank you so much for your support for Andy and myself, and the parish of Croajingolong. So much has happened in the last three weeks. This is the first time that I’ve had the time or internet capability and power to download and reply to all the messages.

Andy and I are both deeply grateful to all who have thought about, prayed or contacted us during this crisis. We haven’t responded to everyone but we hope you understand that this hasn’t always been possible. A real highlight was having Bishop Richard come in on an ADF helicopter to pay a visit and see the reality on the ground – one of the big benefits of being part of a diocese that is supporting me to be able to minister to everyone regardless of denomination.

How are you all

How is the church

Both St Peter’s Mallacoota, the op shop, and St John’s Cann River are perfectly fine with no damage to either property. It is a miracle that the rectory is still standing, as the shed and fences were totally destroyed (which has sadly destroyed all of Andy’s tools and many of our toys) but praise God that the rectory is here – a bit smoky and still with no electricity (16 days and counting) but safe to live in.

How are Jude, Andy and their cat Nelson

We’re coping with a change of reality and all of the ongoing issues, frustrations and struggles that come with that. We’ve remained healthy and are coping pretty well with great support from the networks we’re a part of. Andy has been busy with fisheries as they have been part of the distribution network moving freight from the airport into and around the town. Nelson survived two nights living on our boat with us and is happily back in his own place.

I’ve been learning huge amounts about myself, the role of priest in a time of crisis, and generally just trying to serve the church and community as best as possible.
We’ve had opportunity to evacuate, but both felt that this is where we are supposed to be at the moment, and if I was to leave at this point it would be exceedingly hard to build ministry trust with the community again.


What are the things we could pray for

  • For the ending of fire around Cann River, and further afield. Gentle rains. Wisdom as the two communities face massive rebuilding, particularly in Mallacoota where the distribution of a huge amount of money and donated goods is a potential minefield.

  • For the parish: a percentage of the parishioners either chose to leave or were evacuated for age / medical reasons. This includes all three of the lay leaders, and currently all of parish council. It will take some time before they return – and some may choose not to or be unable to do so, all of this will change the dynamics of the parish.

  • For wisdom for Jude in what is an undefined role with many hats that she could be wearing, energy to respond to an ever-changing situation and compassion for those she meets and ministers to.


How can we support the Parish of Croajingolong 

Financial support

The summer income that we depend on from the Opshop and from bigger congregations hasn’t happened this year (for us as much as the rest of the town.) We’ve been really blessed by some generous donations to assist, but given all of the other factors we’ll still struggle financially as a parish to get through this year.

Financial donations to the parish appeal:
Account name—Parish of Croajingolong
BSB: 633-000,    Account: 147 004 030.
Please note, the parish is unable to issue receipts.

Financial donations to the diocese emergency response appeal.

Donations of goods

Our opshop was already over-full going into summer, and we’ve packed up several boxes of goods that we can’t sell to locals to send away to Melbourne opshops when the road opens. At the moment, we do not require any material goods – particularly food!!!  However, if you come back to visit during winter or into next summer please check in with me again as we may require a supply of goods for the opshop then.

Offers of assistance

Rebuilding is going to be a long-term project, and at the moment not much can actually be done until insurance assessments and asbestos removal is completed. In time, I’m sure we could use groups from other churches or organisations to assist around the community – but I am months away from being able to see how this could be done. Please be patient.

Volunteer and offer help

People wanting to volunteer physically are best to register with blaze aid or a similar organisation.

There has also been a website set up at  https://mallacootaau.recovers.org/  where people can list what or how they would like to donate. I suggest if there is something particular that you want to help with then this is the best place to make that offer.

 


News from #Mallacoota following the #bushfires – from #VicAnglicans.

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