Rapid Response:
Rapid response assemblies are provided on the site when there is an event in the news, good or bad, that touches children's lives, so we can offer you a way to acknowledge it in your collective worship.


By the Revd Alan M. Barker

As with all rapid response assemblies, you will need to update this assembly prior to use.


Suitable for Key Stage 2



To respond to news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Preparation and resources
  • Maps on internet news sites will help to locate Japan and the Pacific.
  • Pictures of the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami, and of the work of rescuers might also be shown.
  • A candle to light at the conclusion of the assembly.
  • Note: Great sensitivity will be needed if children have friends or families in the areas affected by the disaster.


  1. Refer to news of a very violent earthquake off the coast of Japan, which has caused a tsunami. A tsunami is an enormous wave caused by the movement of the earth below the sea. The power of the tsunami has devastated areas beside the sea in northern Japan. The tsunami is also expected to affect low-lying islands and coasts around the Pacific.
  2. Reflect that, throughout history, human communities have struggled to survive in the face of disaster. Ancient stories (e.g. Noah in the Bible) refer to great floods. Earthquakes are feared because they happen so suddenly. In past times people thought that they were punishment from God.
  3. Explain that today, scientists called seismologists study earthquakes and help us to understand how and where they occur. Sheets of the earth’s crust (called tectonic plates) rub against one another releasing waves of energy that make the ground shake. Japan lies on what is called the Ring of Fire – a circle around the Pacific Ocean where quakes and volcanic eruptions frequently occur. Everyone is used to feeling earth tremors, and buildings are specially designed to help prevent damage. However, it is not possible to say with certainty when an earthquake will occur.
  4. The event in Japan has been particularly severe. Many people have died. Many, many more have had their homes destroyed. Observe that through modern communications people across the world watched helplessly as the disaster unfolded. Acknowledge that the children will probably have been shocked and upset by some of the newspaper photographs and television coverage. If appropriate, allow some to voice their reaction. Affirm that such feelings are shared by many others, and that it can be helpful to talk about events that disturb us.
  5. Explain that earthquakes and tsunamis cannot be prevented. However, countries such as Japan have emergency plans for when they happen. The Pacific Ocean now has a ‘tsunami’ alert system to warn countries in the region when one is on its way.

    Practical help will be given to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Medical care and shelter will be provided. Much needed supplies of water and food will be flown in. However, life will be very difficult and hard for some people until this help (known as ‘aid’) arrives. It will also take a long time to repair damaged buildings and roads.
  6. Conclude with the observation that, while disasters reveal ‘nature at its worst’, there is often a response that reflects humanity at its best. Invite everyone to trust that the great wave of destruction will be followed by what might be called a great wave of concern and compassion.


Time for reflection

A candle may be lit.


We join our thoughts and prayers
with those of other faiths and nationalities,
as we remember all whose lives
have been unexpectedly overtaken by disaster.
May those who are injured and distressed be comforted.
May those who are working to bring relief find the strength they need.
May we each care more about others, as members of one human family.



‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)





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