​Bishop John Harrower of the Diocese of Tasmania
with Red Cross volunteer Fraser.

My morning visit to City Hall, Hobart, was a humbling experience. It gave me a small window into the wide and complex tragedy of the bushfires that is currently engulfing Tasmania.

The spirit of the people sheltering from the bushfires expressed their concern and their gratitude.

Their concern at what has been lost or what may have been lost. There is so much loss and so many stories of heart breaking destruction of homes with their irreplaceable treasures, businesses, community facilities, stock, sheds, vehicles and recreational facilities. Yet, within this loss, a positive spirit.

The people sheltering at City Hall also expressed their gratitude at the willingness of people to support them. At City Hall, made available by the Hobart City Council, the people from the bushfire areas are registered by Red Cross volunteers, find a safe place to be and to sleep, food served by friendly Salvos, games for the children, social services from the Royal Hobart Hospital and pastoral support. It was good to see Anglicans volunteering in various capacities: eg, Fraser’s smiling face at the Red Cross desk – see photo!

I thank and congratulate the volunteers at City Hall. Special thanks to the Hobart City Council for making City Hall available. I spoke with Heather who was overseeing the Hobart Council’s hospitality and her positive spirit was infectious.

The pastoral support at City Hall is provided by a chaplaincy team which is being organised and coordinated by Senior Hospital Chaplain Paul Hueston. At the time of my visit Bishop Chris Jones had come back from leave and was on duty. Later today I met Craig Dumas at the Cathedral and he mentioned that Paul had contacted him and that he is pleased to take part in the volunteer roster. This is the spirit of willing co-operation.

Amidst the tragedy of the bushfires, the deep bonds of our humanity are being strengthened. I see generosity, empathy, goodwill, constructive attitudes and a heart to work together for the benefit of those suffering loss. Community organisations are working together and individuals are also contributing assistance.

Thank you to the fire fighters, emergency services personnel and all those people who in so many ways are working together to support those who have suffered great loss.

Please continue in prayer.

Read more from Bishop Harrower at www.ImaginaryDiocese.org