Australia’s biggest church commits special offering towards Syrian refugees

NEWS | Kaley Payne

Friday 27 November 2015

Hillsong has announced that a special offering will be taken across all their churches and online this weekend for Syrian refugee relief.*

The mega-church’s international ministry director, Darren Kitto, wrote on the Hillsong Collected blog this week that while there are many agencies supporting the millions of Syrian refugees streaming into Europe and into surrounding Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, “there is a serious shortfall of funding with only one third of the global appeal for the Syria crisis being funded so far.”

In September, The Guardian reported that the United Nations Syrian regional refugee response plan was only funded to 35 per cent of the $1.3 billion needed to support refugees. It also reported that in 2015 the World Food Programme was forced to cut rations to 1.6 million Syrian refugees due to lack of funding. Refugees living in Lebanon, for example, now have only $13 to spend on food each month.

“Let us choose to be the church, the hands and feet of Jesus in these times of crisis,” said Mr Kitto.

Hillsong is supporting World Vision in this weekend’s giving. While the church hasn’t estimated total donations for the weekend, Eternity has used data from Hillsong’s 2014 annual report to estimate that average weekly offerings across Hillsong’s Australian churches total just over $1 million. There is no analysis available for special offerings.

* Based on annual total revenue of $94 429 336, with 58 per cent of that revenue attributed to “donations” via Hillsong Foundation, and tithes and offerings.

Correction: A previous version of this article read that Hillsong had announced that all donations received in their churches and online this weekend will go towards Syrian refugee relief. Hillsong have since clarified their original announcement, saying it will take up a “special offering” for the cause in each of its services this week.

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