Bushfire Recovery Pastoral Care for the South Coast  

Janice Ackland

Janice & James Ackland

In response to the devastating bushfires of summer 2020 on the NSW South Coast, the Anglican Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn have put in place a plan to provide ongoing pastoral support for parishes and communities affected by the fires. This has involved partnering with BCA, Anglicare and other organisations, to provide three pastoral workers spread across the South Coast and Monaro regions.

Former BCA National Director, now Bishop, Mark Short invited me to join this effort. It is with my faith firmly fixed in the Lord’s enabling and a keen desire to serve Him to the best of my abilities that I, along with my husband James, have accepted the call to ministry in the Eurobodalla region. This will see me caring for the Parishes of Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma.

According to Sydney Morning Herald journalist Kate Burke, about 80 per cent of the shire, that is more than 271,000 hectares, was burnt. Almost 500 homes were destroyed, a further 280 damaged and more than 1230 additional facilities and outbuildings were lost or damaged. Moreover, the bushfires claimed three lives in the region.
Currently, I am in the early phases of this role and have been meeting with people from the Diocese whom I will be working alongside. I look forward to meeting people in the parishes, learning from them and working in partnership with Anglicare to provide pastoral support to those who are continuing to grapple with the challenges the future holds.

It will be a great privilege to walk beside those suffering the loss of homes, properties and businesses as well as the shared grief of the loss of three lives in the region. The
floods which followed and COVID-19 have made recovery that much more daunting. My role will include providing extra pastoral care assistance to those in local churches
and communities who have been involved in sustaining practical, emotional and spiritual care. Through partnership with Anglicare at Moruya more people in need from the
wider community will have access to pastoral support.

“Our Diocese is thrilled to welcome Janice as the first of BCA supported bushfire recovery pastoral workers,” says Bishop Mark. “Janice will be based in the Eurobodalla Shire Council area helping us to care for individuals and families who continue to be impacted by the devastating losses of earlier this year. Her presence and wisdom will bring great wisdom to those who are doing it tough and those who support them.”

Praise God for the generosity of so many people that have made this work possible. I encourage you to pray for the South Coast of NSW along with all other areas in Australia affected by the bushfires who continue to rebuild their precious communities as best they can. Pray that the hope we have in Christ for healing and restoration may permeate to every corner and that God’s love and grace will flow through the efforts of all those involved in this ministry. May His plans be our plans and His Name be glorified.