Australia: church property destroyed as cyclone lashes Queensland

 As North Queensland experienced its worst cyclone on record, Anglican offices were shut down, a church hall destroyed and a rectory roof ripped off. The town of Innisfail was most affected by Cyclone Larry, where houses were ripped apart by gusts of almost 300 km/h. The parish of Innisfail's church building and rectory both suffered severe property damage. "Innisfail is devastated. The bulk of the church hall is gone and the rectory lost most of its roof. Thankfully, clergy and family are safe and well," said the Area Dean of the Northern Region in the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, the Rev Chris Wright. Innisfail parishioners have also had some close calls in the midst of the cyclone. "One lady thought the roof was going and then the wall blew in and her house collapsed like a house of cards. She escaped unscathed," Mr Wright said. The Anglican Bishop of North Queensland, the Rt Rev John Noble had the opportunity to meet with parishioners from the parish of Tully on Sunday as the cyclone was imminent. "I gathered parishioners from the churches in Tully, Mission Beach and Caldwell and they were in good spirits as we worshipped together," Bishop Noble said. Bishop Noble has been in regular contact with the Rev Ray Fishwick, the Rector of Innisfail. "I gave him some encouragement and assurance of our prayers on Sunday afternoon," he said. The Bishop and the Rector kept in touch when the cyclone hit at dawn on Tuesday. "Ray Fishwick described the damage all around them. They said the telephone polls snapped like matchsticks," Bishop Noble said. "As we were on the phone I could hear bits of iron on the rectory roof thumping away as they were being torn away." "Ray described how he could see the furniture being sucked out of his neighbour's house. It was a terrifying experience," he said. Bishop Noble says it will be several weeks before they can calculate the damage to the Innisfail church. "It's essential under the circumstances people remain calm by putting their trust in the Lord, caring for one another and encouraging one another to remain calm," he said. Christ Wright has also asked Christians to pray for those whose houses have been destroyed. Source: ACN

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