Emergency Response

1144060_puzzle_shapeYesterday I was part of an Emergency Briefing with The Victorian Emergency Chaplaincy Network (under the Victorian Council of Churches Emergency Ministry). It helped me with some pieces of the puzzle.

It was a most informative day giving fundamental knowledge and skill base as well as information on government provisions and requirements for members of the Chaplaincy Network who find themselves called to minister in times of crisis.

I have now signed up as an Emergency Chaplain as they are stretched and unable to meet demand with qualified people for personal support right now.

Here’s a few initial, random things that stand out from yesterday:

It was insightful to hear the details of the Emergency Management from the DHS speaker. I was interested the number of times she said “the size and scale of this disaster“. It clearly is an event that is bigger than any Australian ‘department’ has ever had to respond to.

Graeme Winterton (State Coordinator for Emergency Response) began his Briefing with a 5 minute slide show which was titled:            Crisis finds us…unexpected and unprepared. It then covered the response on the fire fronts, up till now, and the unbelievable layers of complexity in responding to a disaster like this. It brought the gravity of the situation and I was very aware of the silence and the awe that filled the room as we watched that presentation.

As the day progressed, we began to see what was like a piece of string without an end – the Repsonse and Recovery process.  It is impacting when you realise that this process aims through restoration, rehabilitation and revitalisation to: ensure as far as possible that the wellbeing of a community is increased.  We were given insight into Recovery Management Principles and what personal support is needed.

I learnt new terms. I learnt alot!

But it was the incidental learning that came in strongly as well.

  • Talking with an English couple who have been working with Tear Fund, in Bosnia with the UN, and other amazing experiences in relief managment in war-torn countries. They are convinced of the Church’s role in this and it was refreshing to hear from their experience how that might look for us here in Melbourne. They also pointed out many things to consider…including the needs of children.
  • Recognition that personal support is not a time limited activity. For people affected by the Bali bombings, a framework is still in place, years later to support them. Understanding that events like this can trigger other stress points in people. There will be groups to be aware of: those who were involved and survived; who have been witnesses (and possibly bereaved); and/or may have helped others affected. Red Cross pyschologists are already saying that after-care and recovery will be long.
  • Community structure in a time of crisis and disaster changes. Initially there is a fusion in crisis, with strong bonds and relationships. It is indiscriminate and undifferentiated. We are seeing that. As the realisation that the past cannot be recovered fully, it is really hard for people to accept and grief, anger and blame often arise. It is likely that the community will be altered with a combination of strengths and weakness.
  • We are able to offer care, compassion, and ‘love in action’ (over time) recognising this is a crucial time in crisis, we are to see it as a building block with these communities and their future.
  • Being committed to pass on accurate information. This is a personal conviction. So many times this week I have heard things which are untrue but accepted as truths. I am urging us all to be peacemakers and careful with what we ‘talk’ up. We need to be aware how unhelpful it is passing along inaccurate information. There is so much anxiety, fear and emotion in our community already, so let’s keep speaking truth in love.

Essentials Red Week 2

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt

“The rule of prayer determines the rule of belief. In other words, how and what we pray or sing will tend to shape what we believe, as well as working the other way around.[1]


Spontaneous public praying is something our church community is re-learning. I celebrate the different opportunities and contexts that this is coming.


We have also set aside a dedicated space in our building for prayer.

Right now it’s called the Prayer Room, but I’m aware that it has not yet become that.

I am reminded that we need to be intentional in that endeavour. There’s so much potential there. I have been inspired by hearing what other Vineyard churches around the world are doing in the rich conversation that is going on around the Languages of Prayer and Scripture in our Essentials Red classroom this week.  It has unloaded an array of incredible expressions from our classmates from around the world.


Dan Wilt reminded us that “across worship history, we also experience many creative writers, leaders and orators documenting the prayers they are praying for those they lead in the present and for posterity to come”[2].


We were pointed towards documented prayers such as St Patrick’s Breastplate and St Symeon’s prayer.

“The people of God have filled their prayer language not only with theological riches across the ages, but also with the riches of their own perspectives, personalities, times and places. We have the same potential to write meaningful prayers today – prayers that could last far beyond our lifetimes in our usefulness for worship.”[3]


In the last two years, I personally have found inspiration through Crafted Prayer. [4]  


It can be a prayer intentionally crafted in response to the season God has you in, or the word He is speaking to us, or maybe a new place He is leading us into.

It brings in the intentionality, the deliberateness that lingers with the beauty of crafting a prayer, a song, a sermon, any of the auditory offerings we know.


We have to learn to be still, how to worship, how to be thankful and then listen, write down key words and phrases and get a sense of objective.  Then look at the key words and phrases and begin to put them in the form of a prayer.  Scripture or pictures may come, so we then build those in.


I have seen this become a significant tool for my own prayer life, as well as for intentional praying for our church community. It becomes not only fuel and focus but also empowerment.


“The prayer that brings about union with God is not the active prayer of petitions and requests. It is the contemplative prayer; the prayer of a heart that is fully open to God. In the prayer of the heart we contemplate the world that will come and call upon God to empower that world now in the way we live”.[5]

[1] Wilt, Dan. ESSENTIALS IN WORSHIP HISTORY: The Language Of Prayer: Essentials Red, St Stephen’s University, 2009

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[5] Webber, Robert E. Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year. (Michigan: Baker Books, 2004), p.66



Melbourne Fires Spring Up Again

Driving home today, it’s distressing to see large, billowing plumes of smoke again so close. 

Today a number of communities close by were again put on high alert due to the weather (wind and heat back up). Fires were on the move again and people were moving to safety.

The news reports indicate that Lilydale sportsgrounds, (where we live), have  now become the Relief centre for Warburton residents who have left their homes under threat today. So caravans, tents and others in need for accomodation arrive, while their township is currently under direct threat.  The army have arrived here also, setting up tents for those who need a place to sleep. It’s so smokey here, and those out under canvas are going to have an uncomfortable night. But I know they choose that over the alternative. 

I just heard from one of the teachers from that area that his school was closed today. Anxiety levels have again started to rise.

Quite a sober thought to think this time exactly a week ago, these showgrounds hosted the Community gathering called Rising in Hope, as the churches in the area to gathered to pray, reflect and remember with a community affected by black Saturday.

The National Day of Mourning was held yesterday. A moving memorial, televised across the nation.
United in grief

United in grief


Federation Square


National day of Mourning


I need a new battery x2


I have a car that is so reliable.

I know even admitting that is inviting possibility of getting jinxed.

But on Monday this week, it surprised me when I turned the key in my reliable car, and nothing. That annoying sound of nothing, Dead.


What’s the first thing I do? My mind races through all the potential reasons the car wouldn’t start.

Did I turn my lights off last night?

Did I leave a door ajar so the internal light drained the battery?

I was looking for sign of my own clutziness.


During the seemingly long wait for RACV help to arrive, I realised that perhaps, just perhaps, the battery was old and I needed a new one… which turned out to be accurate.


But there had been absolutely no signs of it on its way out (that I noticed). And dare I say, nor that from my faithful mechanic flagged for further follow up at a recent car service. No indications that it was going to die on me.


Today, I find my energy levels are really low. It’s like I’ve turned the key to start and I’m not running on all cylinders. But considering the week I’ve had, I think perhaps my own battery needs charging.


Of course, any admission to being weary and the first thing we assume, (and to be honest, people verbalise to you) is not unlike the things I said about my car. “Well, surely you must have done something to get in that state!”


I must admit, I’m not often aware of my energy levels. But I am today. They are a bit absent. (It’s kinda making me smile, as often I have been called the Eveready Bunny that just keeps on going. Today I must be on the ‘cheaper’, discount batteries!)


I can’t go out and buy a new ‘battery’ for my own energy, but I have just been out gardening hoping that a few hours out there might have rejuvenated me.


No sign yet.


I’m so grateful that God gives us the ability to know when we need a state of recharge.


“To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.” Colossians 1:29

PS If you are an Eveready Bunny with lots of energy to spare today, send some my way!

Let it speak (Essentials Red 09)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt


St Patrick's Cathedral


As we engage with thoughts about the language of Time and Space in our first week of Essentials Red, we are thinking about:


What roles landscapes, architecture, atmosphere played in cultivating a living worship expression in each age? Do buildings, spaces and physical locations have any influence on us in our offerings of devotion to God?

Christians throughout time have seen space as part of their physical worship expression.


Compared to many cities of the world, we only have a few cathedrals in our city. This amazing statement seen in the picture above is found at one of them. I was reminded of it as I’ve moved through the content of RED this week. This Cathedral speaks in our city, drawing our attention to God.

It speaks a language from a people who were…”expressing their faith in God, and supporting the faith of the people.” [1] 

If we miss the heart behind why this grand space was originally created, then this welcome to point us to that reminder of its presence.

Dan Wilt says that “space is meant to amplify something that is happening in the human heart.”[2]

This dedication and message is an impressive invitation to say ‘let it speak to you…” It serves partly to remind us, that this is more than a building overshadowing our city, should we forget the intention of those who built it.

It has caused me to wonder what ‘statement’ of welcome and invitation would I write if I was to capture the ‘work’ of my heart and hands surrounding the activity of my life of worship?

What could we write to point towards God as a reminder in the years to come, of what is being built, crafted, shaped for His glory as a community?

What would you write if you were to leave an inscription such as this?


Postscript: Matt’s post seems a top reflection to add off the back of this.

1. Dan Wilt: ESSENTIALS IN WORSHIP HISTORY: The Language Of Space

2. Dan Wilt: Video : Week 1 The Languages of Time and Space 2           

Creative genius

I love TEDtalks. I hadn’t caught up on this latest Feb 2009 one yet, but was interested to see has already Deb Hirsch commented on it.

70532_113x85Elizabeth Gilbert and her fascinating ‘take’ on creative genius.

Ending a week but it’s only beginning…

r337443_1531197Every day this week has held both spontaneous generosity as well as more news of the extent of this devestation. News changes by the hour.

Right now it’s expected the death toll to exceed 300.

7000 people have been displaced. 1900 homes gone.

And then there’s the incredible wave of spirit that is visible beyond expectation.

I could write many posts on what I’ve seen and experienced this week. Some of it beyond words. So let me share this morning’s simple news.  As I’ve moved around my own neighbourhood, I see trucks leaving from the Mustard Tree Op Shop ferrying more needed supplies up to the nearby fire affected areas. Red Cross has asked that there be no more physical donations as they are overwhelmed, and are asking now simply for money donations.

My neighbour is still involved in the horrific Disaster Victim Identification task is again on call to head out today for another day in the thick of it.

A guy who cut my hedge works for a large mowing company and many of that company are giving up a week’s work, and will head up with all their tools and expertise to assist when needed.

A group of trucks were unloading feed for stock animals at Lilydale lake this morning. Many of the displaced stock are at Lilydale showgrounds.

Friends have been on incident alert in Healesville this morning as another flare up affected their houses. They have just now downgraded that warning. The Healesville residents are all exhausted after a week of vigiliance and uncertainty. One of our work colleagues has packed and unpacked her car this week so many times.

Coles supermarket is donating all today’s profits towards Fire relief and I’m about to head there with the crowds.

It’s not even lunch time and the day is already rolling with activity related to the fires. The reminder is still thick in the air as we are actually covered with smoke this morning.

All week, news kept rolling in that shows the further, widening impact we are seeing.

Lilydale and wider community will gather at the Lilydale showgrounds on Monday night for a night called Rising in Hope – a time of hope, remembrance and prayer for all our community. Our church is one of the many involved in organising that. Please pray for God’s strong presence as we gather.

These reflections seem so small in comparison to how overwhelmed we feel daily, by the physical and spiritual needs present. We appreciate all the prayers and practical support being offered, and know that the road ahead will be a long one to travel together.

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