Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Disaster Chaplaincy across the Pacific

Written by Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson
The city of Suva in Fiji recovers after Cyclone Winston. Photo: news.com.au The city of Suva in Fiji recovers after Cyclone Winston. Photo: news.com.au

Over the next couple of weeks I will be working with UnitingWorld on two important national projects in the Pacific. 

Next week I will be meeting with Fijian Heads of Churches and other faith group leaders in the Fijian capital Suva to discuss the idea of forming a national disaster recovery chaplaincy network. Together we will be formalising a proposal to take to a meeting with the Fijian Government and other stakeholders in disaster welfare the following day.  

It is anticipated that I will be returning to Fiji in the third quarter of the year to facilitate training, including training trainers and managers to establish this work.

Feedback from Fiji since Cyclone Winston has been that the churches have been doing some heavy lifting in terms of community recovery and pastoral, social and psychological care.

It will be a great blessing to the nation to be able to formalise training for pastoral carers and have this integrated with the national disaster management plan.  Please pray for this initiative.

From Fiji I will be flying on to join the UnitingWorld team in the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu.

The people of this nation are suffering continued hardship and an uncertain future because of rising sea-levels and increasing tidal intrusions into their streets and homes, which represent an ongoing disaster for them.

This is part of the “Navigating the Tide” initiative – where Unitingworld is working with a number of our Pacific partner churches to assist them in building resilience to deal with the increasing threats of weather-related events.

I am honoured to join this team which will bring well-rounded input in terms of theology, disaster management and hazard assessments, and planning and teaching trauma and grief-related ministry skills and organisation.

Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson is the Assembly's National Disaster Recovery Officer.