Bishop Victoria Matthews' message to parishes
Dear Friends in Christ,
I give thanks to God for the safety of the people of Christchurch and Canterbury during the recent earthquake and numerous aftershocks. So let our first response be the giving of thanks. Imagine if it had been 12 hours before or after!
So let us give thanks for the gift of life and friends at this time. At the same time I ask your prayers for those affected by the air disaster resulting in nine deaths on the west coast near Franz Joseph.
Secondly, please check on your neighbours. In the region there are still areas without power and water. The contents of people's freezers are beginning to thaw so you might be able to assist by cooking meat and returning it to the family concerned, or if it is in time, and you have freezer space, to temporarily give frozen food a new home.
I think Facebook and other means have allowed people to relocate or find a place to shower and warm up, but if you have an extra bedroom, that also can be helpful.
Thirdly, at these times there is a huge need for community. People need to talk about what they have experienced and how they are feeling about the disaster. Invite people to chat about what it has been like for them. Then, given the severity of the aftershocks, give people a call not once but every twelve hours or so, as even now many houses are experiencing further significant damage.
Fourthly, please be careful about entering any buildings that may be unsafe. As I write the aftershocks are a current reality worthy of respect. There are many stories, and they are not good stores, about people assuming it is all over too soon.
Lastly, many of our churches and other buildings have sustained terrible damage. Our hearts go out to the parishioners of those communities. But the Church is the Body of Christ, and the people of God, and we must remember that the bricks and mortar, however dear to us, are secondary.
My prayers are with you all. I have sent my apology for the meetings I was expected to attend in England this week so I will be present and available to the community.
In Christ who is the Lord of Life,