Moderator’s Flood Appeal 2022

Office news

Peter Phillips, Moderator

Update on 16 November 2022

I write to thank you for your generosity thus far, and to urge you to greater liberality.

As at today’s date, $5,701 has been contributed to this appeal..

However, the need is great. 

1. The manse has been deemed uninhabitable by the assessor, until repaired, and alternative accommodation must needs be arranged for the Riske family when they arrive in the new year. The board hopes to gain some assistance with the costs associated with this through an ‘increased in costs of working at a distance’ clause from their insurer

However

 2. The excess on the claim of insurance for church properties is $20,000 and this must be paid to start the process of getting the insurance claim through.

The Rochester congregation is not wealthy, and this disaster has happened at a time when its resources have been committed to bringing a new ministry family from Tasmania at considerable expense. 

We are grateful for the support given thus far – but let me be bold enough to encourage you to even greater generosity by the encouragement the apostle Paul used when encouraging the Christians of Corinth to support the poor of the church in Jerusalem:

 ‘The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ (2 Corinthians 9:6-9)

3 November 2022

While recent heavy rains have caused floods across the state it appears that of all the areas affected, Rochester has suffered more than most. Some areas of Shepparton and Mooroopna were inundated, but the Shepparton church buildings and congregation were not affected. Also, while Kerang has been isolated by flood waters, so far both Kerang and Swan Hill have been protected by levee banks – but the flood emergency has not yet passed, with much water yet to make its way down the Murray, and the situation in these towns may change for the worse in coming days.

However, while some have been spared, Rochester and district has been badly affected by flooding with significant damage to the Presbyterian Church buildings and the homes and farms of members of the congregation.

Long after the floodwaters have receded and the media attention has faded, people there will continue to struggle with the effects of flooding; it will be many months before houses affected by flooding can be made habitable again, dry, free from mould and mildew and properly repaired. While at least some of the damage will be covered by flood insurance, such insurance usually requires the payment of significant excesses, and for people struggling, even the excess can be a crushing burden, while there will be long term costs for alternative accommodation for people whose homes have been made unfit for habitation by the flooding.

The damage to farms and crops and pasture is not so easily dealt with. The land was wet with unseasonable rain before the flooding and the fact that the flooding has been followed up by more wet weather means that the soil continues very wet, with what crops and pasture not destroyed or damaged by the flooding now dying from the prolonged wet. Furthermore, there is little or no dry ground on which cows can rest and sleep and they are stressed and unhappy, and it will be months or even years before the situation is restored to normal. To add to the difficulties for farmers, hay is needed to feed their stock and some suppliers have taken advantage of the situation to significantly increase prices.

Some congregations have already generously contributed to the support of those in need and I thank them on behalf of the folk at Rochester. However, the presbytery of North Western Victoria asked me to hold this appeal to make the need more widely known and to give others the opportunity to contribute and I gladly do so. Gifts may be sent directly to the Church Office, or paid directly into the PCV Account:

PCV Bank Account Details

BSB: 083 004

Account Number: 015 016 531

Account Name: Presbyterian Church of Victoria

Bank: NAB

Branch: 330 Collins Street Melbourne

Please record “your name+ Flood Appeal” as a reference, and email payment advice to: accountant@pcv.org.au

Report on Rochester Flood Damage and prayer points

Last Tuesday, 1 November 2022, instead of paying any attention to the race that stops a nation Lorraine and I visited Rochester to survey the situation in the town and surrounding countryside with particular reference to the Presbyterians of the district.

The floodwaters had gone, but the signs of flooding were everywhere evident in the form of piles of sandbags and sodden carpets and furniture and other goods piled in heaps in the streets awaiting collection and disposal, while in the countryside there remained great pools of water in low-lying place and fences covered with flood debris showing where fence high floodwaters had swept across the land.

In the township, some homes of church members had been spared flooding, some by centimetres – and for that we give thanks to God. Others, sadly, had been inundated by half a metre or more of flood water – as on the window below – ruining everything on the floor, from carpets to washing machines and refrigerators. Just imagine what it would be like to have your home filled with filthy foul smelling flood water!

In the countryside, apart from the damage to fences, the land, which was wet before the flood, is slow to drain; pasture and other crops are damaged and dying and there are few dry spots for cattle to find refuge from the wet; the animals are not happy and neither are the farmers!

In terms of church property, the manse was sufficiently inundated to ruin the carpets and damage the full-length curtains and MDF skirting boards. The outside level is marked on the veranda post:

By the time of our visit the carpets had been removed and the mud had been cleaned up, but it will be some time before the smell clears!

The church and hall and kindergarten rooms at the rear of the hall were also inundated, ruining the carpets and damaging items at low level; again, the carpets had been removed and the mud cleaned up by the time we arrived, and the hall continues to be used as a relief centre:

Outside the church the flooding has caused damage to footpaths and walkways:

The scripture says ‘let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10) Here is an opportunity for us to do good both with prayer and with money.

Rochester is in the process of obtaining a new minister. Licentiate Michael Riske, presently based in Tasmania, has accepted the call and will move to Rochester in the New Year. To embark on this call was a step of faith for a congregation that is not overly endowed with the riches of this world, and that faith is now being tested by the floods; your prayerful support would be an act of obedience to our Lord and a great encouragement to the congregation.

Please give generously and add to your gifts your prayers:

  • That the members and friends of the congregation will be
  • strong in faith in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that ‘the testing of your faith produces steadfastness’ (James 1:2);
  • encouraged by the goodness of God and his people in their time of need.
  • a good witness to the hope that is in Christ Jesus to the wider community.
  • That God will use this disaster for the advancement of his kingdom in Rochester and beyond.
  • For drying weather.
  • For quick settlement of insurance claims and the availability of materials and tradespeople so that necessary repair works can be competed without needless delays.
  • That hay and other necessities for the support of livestock may continue to be available at fair and reasonable cost.
  • That together as a church family we will honour our God by  heeding his word even in this trial: ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’. (1 Thess 5:16-18)