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A new partnership has been launched between the Uniting and Anglican Churches to provide Bush Fire Recovery Chaplaincy to Tathra communities, through Reverend Captain Stuart Haynes, which will be funded by the Uniting Church of Australia for nine months.

John Williams, Co-Chair of the Canberra Region Presbytery, wrote to acknowledge the encouragement and support of Bishop Trevor to the folk in Tathra and Bega Valley through this partnership, put in place with Reverend Dr Stephen Robinson, National Disaster Recovery Officer, Uniting Church Assembly, to have Reverend Captain Stuart Haynes take up the role as Chaplain for Bush Fire recovery in Tathra /Bega communities.

A moving worship and commissioning service was held on 23rd September, with folks gathered from the Uniting and Anglican congregations. These congregations  mixed and supported each other, sharing in the pain of the fires and the fragility of the community as they rebuild, with mutual offers of help extended.

John Williams, said to those gathered:

‘To folk here who were directly and immediately impacted I offer my sympathy and commitment to stand with you in the long haul. That is what we are symbolizing today as we commission Rev Stuart Haynes as Bushfire Recovery Chaplain. This is our response. A commitment to stand with, to listen to, to comfort, and to travel with our Tathra community into full recovery. I am so pleased we can do this in partnership.’

The worship centre around the Christ candle was built up of relics from the fire – shapes cast from molten solar panels, hub caps from cars and household glassware. Video of fire impacts on homes and bushland, compiled by David Gallan, was shown to those gathered.

Stuart’s gentle touch and engagement in ministry is known to have fostered this partnership.