7 December 2022

‘Gift from God’ church escapes central Victorian floods

Outside Mooroopna Anglican church after the stormfront. Picture: supplied.

Jenan Taylor

20 October 2022

A Mooroopna church has escaped damage despite a broken roof, as floodwaters from a significant storm inundated several regional Victorian towns.

Mooroopna Anglican vicar Reverend Simon Robinson said while water from the Goulburn River had encroached most of the rest of the town, the church and a few nearby houses had remained dry.

Describing the church as a gift from God, Mr Robinson said it had recently been given money to fix the roof.

The job had only been halfway done when the storm hit.

Video supplied by Steven Threlfall.

Major flood warnings were issued for the area, and the Goulburn River peaked at 12 metres on Tuesday.

Thousands of homes across Greater Shepparton had lost power prior to that, and hundreds of residents had had to be evacuated.

Mr Robinson said the floodwater had stopped just short of the church, and he’d expected some dampness inside.

But when he went to inspect the building after the storm front, it was entirely dry.

“We were thinking about our leaky roof and that it would be fine, because we’d said “Remember Lord, remember your people. And remember you gave us this building and that you’ve given us money to fix it up. So, what’s the damn point, if you let it wash away?” And blow me down God heard our prayers,” Mr Robinson said.

Mr Robinson said the building housing Mooroopna Anglican had previously been the canteen of the former Ardmona factory which the church had moved into in 2014.

He said he’d always felt that God had gifted the Anglican church the factory building as a home base from which to bless the community.

Read more: A bright light of hope in Mallacoota

He said the church worked together with community service organisation Family Haven to attend to the needs of the population, and that that partnership had also led to funding for renovations including $100,000 to repair the leaky roof.

Mr Robinson said when the major flood warning for the area was issued last week, parishioners, workers from Family Haven and volunteers had doorknocked to warn the town’s many vulnerable locals.

He said he’d also witnessed several acts of community kindness through the event.

These included people using their kayaks and canoes to deliver food and sandbags to residents who had become stranded, as the floodwaters rose.

Video supplied by Steven Threlfall.

“There’s young blokes, wading through floodwater, up to their chests and a family with these skinny teenage girls working their best to fling sandbags into the trailer,” Mr Robinson said.

“They were going around shoring up people’s houses before the flood fully hit certain parts of the town, because in some streets the people are just clueless, like, ‘Isn’t the government coming to save us?’ And the helpers were going like, ‘No, mate. No one’s coming except us. So, you better take some of these.’ So, there’s all this great initiative.”

Mr Robinson has placed a church social media notice offering help to whoever needed it during the clean-up and recovery process.

But he has asked that people from outside the area give financial and prayer support rather than send material goods, if they wanted to help the affected communities.

Mr Robinson said that while the intention was appreciated, extraneous items would merely make clean-up and recovery efforts harder.

Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier said the diocesan bishops of Victoria had reported affected communities across Ballarat, Bendigo and Wangaratta dioceses.

Holy Trinity Rochester was the only flooded church, with water inundating both the church and the rectory.

The Melbourne Anglican is not aware of any Melbourne diocese churches being affected by the events.

The Melbourne Anglican Foundation is also raising funds for the affected region. To donate, please visit melbourneanglican.org.au/maf-donation-page/.

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