Spiritual support offered to struggling farmers

South Australian churches are working alongside financial advisors to support farmers struggling to cope with the crippling drought.

A partnership between the state's Christian church leaders and the Rural Financial Counselling Services SA (RFCSSA) will see churches offer spiritual and emotional solace to regional South Australians who often face other problems in addition to financial strain.

RFCSSA general manager Kay Matthias said the aim was to offer extra pastoral support which could be done through a referral process or financial counsellors and church personnel, The Southern Cross reported.

"We also really need the help of the churches, particularly in the Riverland, to connect with multicultural communities," Ms Matthias said.

RFCSSA board chairman Don Blesing said he was keen to build a partnership with Christian churches especially in communities severely affected by drought.

Requests for support from the RFCSSA have risen more than fourfold in some areas compared to the same period last year, forcing the service to almost triple counsellor numbers from eight to 21.

South Australian Council of Churches executive officer Geraldine Hawkes said the collaboration was an acknowledgement that churches had "something special to offer".

"The RFCSSA are working very hard to give people advice in relation to their finances but the spiritual and the emotional side is where local church communities can really play a part," Ms Hawkes said.

"There are the practical aspects of life but there is also the spiritual dimension," she said.

South Australian residents can call RFCSSA on 1800 836 211.

Spiritual support (Southern Cross November 2007)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Rural Financial Counselling Service SA
National Council of Churches of Australia
South Australian Council of Churches of Australia

Commission appeal for farmers afflicted by ongoing drought (CathNews, 19/11/03)
Vinnies launches drought appeal for NSW farmers (CathNews, 19/01/07)
Christians unite in prayer for rain (CathNews, 16/11/06)
Melbourne priest pours cold water on PM's rain prayers (CathNews, 23/04/07)
SA Catholic schools beat drought - and save water (CathNews, 02/03/07)

8 Nov 2007