Aid, prayers for ‘worst disaster’

Published February 1, 2005

Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo said the long-term needs of Sri Lanka will include restoring local economies.

Anglicans across Canada, deeply affected by the Dec. 26 tsunami that killed more than 150,000 and left millions homeless in Asia and east Africa, have joined aid efforts by donating money and raising funds for the relief and rehabilitation of devastated areas that experts say could take years to accomplish.

From prayer services to concerts benefiting the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund’s (PWRDF) tsunami response as well as other charities, there was an outpouring of support from Anglicans for victims of what the United Nations has called “the worst disaster in recent history.”

At press time, PWRDF had received notification that the federal government would match donations to the fund made prior to Jan. 11 and they had raised $421,000 – an unprecedented amount for a PWRDF relief appeal. In the days following the disaster, PWRDF designated $80,000 for the tsunami response, including a $50,000 grant to the global emergency relief appeal co-ordinated by its partner organization, Action by Churches Together International (ACT), and $30,000 to its development partners responding to relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction needs in their areas. “These contributions will increase as donations are received,” said Susie Henderson, PWRDF co-ordinator for parish and diocesan partnerships. ACT members in Asia immediately mobilized humanitarian relief operations in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand hours after the tragedy struck, said Ms. Henderson.

Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo, in a communiqué issued on Dec. 31, wrote about the “huge devastation” he witnessed as he visited the affected areas. “Our needs are enormous,” he said. He cited the need for para-medical and trauma counseling personnel who can assist local voluntary efforts, as well as long-term needs of rebuilding houses, and helping restore local economies by replacing destroyed fishing boats, restoring farmlands and rehabilitating small businesses.

Anglicans around the world have reacted to the tragedy by extending prayers and offers of financial support.

Archbishop Andrew Hutch-ison, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, made several passionate appeals for Anglicans to join the relief effort, underscoring the need for sustained support. “I know that all Anglicans have and will continue to react with a spirit of generosity to bring a measure of comfort and relief to all who are devastated,” he said in a pastoral message issued Jan. 9. In his most recent Web cast, taped Jan. 11 and archived at, the primate said that the hope that arises from the response to the tsunami is that the people of the world could come together in a similar way to address other preventable disasters such as AIDS and genocide.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said, “Every life lost is a personal tragedy for each family and our hearts go out to the bereaved and injured. The hardships caused by this devastation will be a challenge to many and will require the help and support of the world community.”

In Canada, Anglicans staged numerous fundraisers, including concerts in the parishes of Chelsea-Lascelles-Wakefield ( Ottawa), and Christ Church Cathedral (Vancouver). Christ Church’s nave was filled to capacity and 150 extra seats were added to accommodate overflow crowds that attended the Jan. 7 and 8 concerts. The concerts raised $42,000 (to be matched by the federal government) for the tsunami relief efforts of the Canadian Red Cross and UNICEF. The cathedral said it would continue to raise funds, this time to benefit PWRDF’s tsunami response.

In the diocese of Fredericton, the Anglican parish of Chatham held a fundraising dinner that raised $15,362 for World Vision.

Also, the Three Cantors, a trio of singing priests (plus accompanist) from southern Ontario, announced they would donate all proceeds from an already-planned Jan. 19 concert at Ottawa’s Christ Church Cathedral to PWRDF for tsunami relief. Also, the children of Ottawa’s parish of Stafford raised $361 for the Red Cross by holding a luncheon.

The diocese of Toronto, meanwhile, held prayer services in various venues, including St. Margaret-in-the-Pines, Scarbor-ough, Ont., which has a large Tamil congregation – many of them with relatives and friends in the devastated areas. Christ Church Deer Park held a jazz vespers service to benefit PWRDF; the parish of Lloydtown held a fundraising concert, as did St. Peter’s, Erindale.

In related news:

  • The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has matched donations made prior to Jan. 11 to PWRDF for tsunami relief. The notification came by e-mail to the PWRDF finance co-ordinator dated Jan. 11, the last day that Ottawa set for matching donations by Canadians.
  • Lutheran Life Insurance Society of Canada donated $60,000 to help tsunami victims. Lutheran Life President Dieter Kays said $30,000 was divided between Canadian Lutheran World Relief and World Vision to support their relief efforts. The additional $30,000 was earmarked to match funds raised by Lutheran Life volunteer member branches throughout Canada, which could increase total assistance to $90,000 or more;
  • Kairos, the Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Rights and Democracy group (of which the Anglican Church of Canada is a member), has demanded that the Indonesian government stop all non-aid related military operations in Aceh, one of the areas severely affected by the tsunami disaster. Kairos said the Indonesian military’s failure to adhere to a ceasefire has been hindering the delivery of emergency aid in the affected areas.

Those wishing to donate to the PWRDF tsunami response may: send cheques marked “South Asia Earthquake” to PWRDF, 80 Hayden Street, Toronto ON, M4Y 3G2; to make a donation by credit card, contact Barbara Wilkins at [email protected] or (416) 924-9199, ext. 320.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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