17 January, 2020
To: Provincial Council
I am writing this special letter to update you on how the Victorian dioceses have been responding to the devastating bushfires that have gripped our state in the past two weeks and particularly impacted the Dioceses of Gippsland and Wangaratta.
Last week following some discussion with the Bishop of Gippsland and the Administrator of the Diocese of Wangaratta, I spoke with Ken Hutton, Executive Officer for the Archbishop (who is currently overseas at an Anglican Primate’s Meeting) and who contacted the Archbishop. I made the suggestion that a special Provincial Bishop’s Meeting be held. The Acting Metropolitan Bishop Garry Weatherill called the meeting and it was held last Monday morning in Melbourne. The purpose of the meeting was threefold:
- To hear directly from Bishop Richard of Gippsland and the Administrator of Wangaratta, Archdeacon Clarence what was happening on the ground.
- To see how the Province could respond to any identified needs.
- To show and demonstrate our concern for the two dioceses and all the people in them. Bishop Garry led us in prayer at the beginning and the end of the meeting.
The meeting was very fruitful and from it emerged a range of actions and recommendations which I want to share with you:
- That from the Provincial Emergency Fund managed by the Diocese of Melbourne an immediate grant of $25,000 be made to assist the dioceses of Gippsland and Wangaratta. Each bishop will report as to how the grant has been used at a meeting of the Provincial Council. The funds have already been transferred and I know that they will assist the two dioceses greatly to respond in particular ways to the circumstances they are dealing with.
- Both dioceses reported to the meeting that the VCC- Emergency Ministry Chaplains have assisted the relief effort in local communities magnificently. Indeed we learnt at the meeting that 113 Chaplains were Anglican and they comprised by far the biggest group from any denomination in Victoria. The Meeting recommended to dioceses that all clergy be encouraged to train for VCC-EM and that dioceses offer to cover the cost.
- At the meeting the Dean of Melbourne, the Very Revd Andreas Lowe offered with assistance from the Cathedral staff to establish a Provincial website that would provide information about the current situation across the Province and longer term be a way the Province can be better connected and informed. I am pleased to say that due to some excellent work, the website is up and running and can be found at: vicanglican.org.au.
- A proposal was put to the meeting to develop a Victorian Anglican Disaster Plan with a working Group to be appointed by the Archbishop upon his return from overseas.
- Dioceses of Bendigo, Melbourne and Ballarat that have appeals will in time remit these funds directly to the dioceses of Gippsland and Wangaratta.
- Other initiatives such as Parish Links and Secondment of Clergy are to be explored further.
I hope you find this helpful and gives you reassurance that as a Province we are responding and will continue to do so. We are at the beginning of a long recovery process. So please keep praying and please feel free to share this email.
Bishop Andrew Curnow AM
Updates the #Anglican response to the #bushfires – from #VicAnglicans.Tweet