US Churches unite in relief effort after wildfires
THE largest wildfire on record in California will last until the end of August, fire officials said this week, after a “major disaster” was declared in the state. Churches in the area affected, including All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Redding, have been at the forefront of the relief effort. The disaster-response team of the Episcopal Church’s diocese of Northern California has been helping churches to respond to the wildfires, supporting churches such as All Saints’. Its interim Rector, the Revd Carren Sheldon, told the Episcopal News Service: “The sky was orange, and the wind was blowing cinders and ash. The power was out, and the traffic was gridlocked. It was apparent that it was time to gather the irreplaceable records of the church, and flee.” The Mendocino Complex fire grew to 1176 sq km earlier this week: more than 14,000 firefighters tackled it and other fires in California.
Archbishop of Sydney launches drought appeal
THE Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has launched an appeal to help New South Wales, which has been affected by drought, through his Anglican Aid agency. Dr Davies also urged members of his congregation to “pray for rain” to help those in need. Aid efforts will give resources to churches in north and western NSW to help in what is believed to be the worst drought since 1900. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, warned this week that Australia had become a “land of drought”, as he committed a further £80 million to help communities affected by the dry weather.
Pakistan makes ‘final push’ against polio
THE Pakistani government has launched a “final push” against polio in the country. The programme, launched on Monday, means that 110,000 health workers will vaccinate 19.2 million children under five. Although there have been just eight confirmed cases in 2017, and three cases so far this year, polio is still a problem in Pakistan, and is still endemic in neighbouring Afghanistan. The vaccination programme is going ahead, despite previous threats against such action by the Taliban, who have argued that it is a Western conspiracy to sterilise children, Vatican News reported.
Second World War bomb damage found in cathedral
A BOMB dropped on Valetta, Malta, during the Second World War, affected the structural integrity of St Paul’s Cathedral, an investigation by the Diocese in Europe has concluded. The explosive, which struck the tower, “in all likelihood affected the structural integrity of the tower and spire”, the diocese said. Both the tower and the cathedral will be “painstakingly repaired and restored” as part of a restoration project for western Valetta. Efforts to raise the €3 million needed for repairs to the roof, ceiling, the wooden structure of the tower, and the undercroft, and to install disabled access, have begun. Scaffolding will be put up inside the cathedral this year, and around the tower in early 2019, as work begins on the restoration.
Zimbabwe Churches mediate after election violence
THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches is mediating to resolve tensions in the country after accusations of vote-rigging in the country’s presidential election led to outbreaks of violence. As results were released on Wednesday of last week, showing that the Zanu-PF candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa had won, violence broke out, and opposition supporters claimed electoral fraud. The army was called in and used live ammunition against protesters, killing six people. Christian Aid called last Thursday for an independent investigation into the military action, and for those responsible to be held to account. Opposition activists have been forced into hiding after a crackdown by government security agencies.