Christian leaders pledge to back post-COVID recovery

An alliance of Christian community organisations have committed to playing their part in Australia’s recovery from COVID.

“We vow to provide service and love to all in need without prejudice or judgment — to share our common table with the hungry, to bring warmth and care to the frail, and to proportion our common wealth among the poor and destitute,” says organisations ranging from World Vision to Wesley Mission, and Bible Society Australia to Mission Australia and the Presbyterian Church.

“We vow to do all in our power to equip our fellow Australians with opportunities to flourish — to walk alongside those who struggle with the anxiety of unemployment, to teach skills and train in ways that enable fulfilling and life-affirming work, and to assist in facilitating efforts for the common good.”

The joint letter from the Christian community organisations will be handed to the Prime Minister today, as part of a day of meeting with him, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and a number of relevant Government ministers. The organisations cover a range of Christian concerns  in the spheres of education, social services, aged care, Indigenous health, disabilities and international development. The  Christian groups hope to gain a better understanding of Government priorities in a post-COVID Australia, which will help them seek to develop strategies and opportunities to support the wider community.

The “Church Community Restoration Project” is in Canberra, not to lobby but to seek opportunities for Christian organisations to partner with government and each other.

“After many of our nation’s biggest crises – World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, World War II – Christian community organisations have been at the forefront of relational, social and economic restoration,” said James Toomey  head of Mission Australia. “We are committed once again to rolling up our sleeves, supporting our communities and working together through these challenging times so that everyone is included in the recovery ahead.”

Dr Ursula Stephens, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, pointed out how Christian collaboration with governments is key to good outcomes. “Faith-based organisations provide more than half of all welfare services in Australia, and those represented here today recognise the vital role they can play in restoration in response to the impacts of COVID-19.”

“It is important to recognise the role that civil society will have in the provision of services and support. We look forward to discussing with Government where the areas of greatest need lie and how we can best work together in the recovery ahead.”

The letter

Dear Prime Minister and Government Ministers of Australia,

Joint letter from Christian leaders in relation to community restoration:

We write to express our commitment as Christian leaders and Australian citizens, scattered throughout the cities and towns, remote and rural areas of this great land, to support, in a spirit of faith, hope, and love, in the sustaining and recovery of communities across the country.

As a nation we have faced an awful year, the economic and social fallout of which will echo across generations. For the Australian people, these times are a trial of our resolve, our fortitude, and our sacrificial commitment to each other.

Yet we believe that God knows our challenges and is merciful. The Bible, our great charter of faith and practice, was written for such times as these, and discloses good news that speaks to our hearts now in this season of great need. In all of the previous disasters of Australian history, the Christian church has stepped up as a key national contributor to stabilisation and then restoration, and we seek to commit to this once more.

It is in this spirit we collectively vow to seek the welfare of this country, its peace, its flourishing, and its prosperity—to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable, to carry the burdens of the broken, and to raise up those without the strength to carry on.

We vow to reinforce and encourage right relationships across all spheres of community and public life—to support families who are wounded, to shine a light on darkness and despair, and to be ambassadors of reconciliation that repair broken bonds of society and state.

We vow to provide service and love to all in need without prejudice or judgment—to share our common table with the hungry, to bring warmth and care to the frail, and to proportion our common wealth among the poor and destitute.

We vow to do all in our power to equip our fellow Australians with opportunities to flourish—to walk alongside those who struggle with the anxiety of unemployment, to teach skills and train in ways that enable fulfilling and life-affirming work, and to assist in facilitating efforts for the common good.

We vow to bring the enduring Christian message of love, reconciliation and hope to the Australian people—to provide education and the pursuit of wisdom to hearts and minds, to help restore purpose and joy to those in despair, and in humility to listen to the needs of all, whether those in our community or those in government.

We vow to partner as fellow labourers for the restoration of economic and human resources—to nourish workers who toil and build, to encourage those who seek to develop technology and medicines, and to uphold safety and dignity as we carry plenty to the reach of all.

And we pray for you, our government leaders, that you be granted wisdom and imagination in your deliberations—that you may discern the spirit of justice and truth, that you be protected from the temptation to seek self-interest above service, and that you be equipped to be a means of healing for our nation and other countries—and especially those in our region—who are less capable of dealing with these trials.

Finally, although we face lean and challenging years ahead, we are inspired by the words of the Psalmist:

…For He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will have compassion on the weak and the needy, and He will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and from violence, for their lives are precious to him.

(Psalm 72:12-14)

Yours in Christ,

Mark Spencer
Director of Public Policy, Christian Schools Australia

Daniel Wordsworth
CEO, World Vision Australia

Ursula Stephens
CEO, Catholic Social Services Australia

Stephen Fogarty
President, Alphacrucis College

James Toomey
CEO, Mission Australia

Michael Worker
General Secretary, Australian Union Conference
Seventh Day Adventist Church

Stu Cameron
CEO/Superintendent, Wesley Mission

Grant Millard
CEO, Anglicare Sydney

Grant Thomson
CEO, Bible Society Australia

Jenny George
CEO, Converge International

Ross Clifford
Principal, Morling College

Vanessa Cheng
Executive Officer, Australian Association of Christian Schools

Peter James
National Transition Management Executive, Scripture Union Australia

Andrew Cameron
Director, St Marks National Theological Centre

Peter Barnes
Moderator-General, Presbyterian Church of Australia

Jeanne Trudel
President, Christian Heritage College

John Steenhof
Managing Director, Human Rights Law Alliance

Gordon Preece
Director, Ethos, Evangelical Alliance Centre for Christianity and Society

Nick Mackay
National Director, Cinnamon Network Australia

James Anderson
Director, Lachlan Macquarie Institute

Clare Steele
CEO, Compassion Australia

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