Dear friends in Algoma,

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34.18)

I invite your prayers for Bishop Asbil (Diocese of Toronto), Rev. Don Beyers, and the people of St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Toronto which was destroyed by a fire on Sunday June 9th, leaving it in ruins. What has been lost is irreplaceable – the magnificent murals by the Group of Seven as well as the holy space which has nurtured faith and offered a place of hospitality and welcome to so many over the years. We give thanks for the life and witness of St. Anne’s in Toronto’s west end for decades. We pray that those who feel this loss most keenly will now experience the comforting presence of God’s Holy Spirit as well the loving care of the wider church as we lift our hearts to God in prayer with you. On behalf of the other dioceses in the Province I have written a letter of care and support to Bishop Asbil.

As people of faith we know that God’s love and grace is never confined to a  church building. In the darkness of this moment we are a people of the resurrection who believe that something new will emerge from the ashes of this time. A prayer vigil was held on the grounds of St. Anne’s on Tuesday evening this week, giving community members the opportunity to express their grief and stand together in solidarity with one another. Already plans are already underway for the rebuilding of St. Anne’s. It can never be the same as it was before but through the grace of God and the generosity of God’s people a new St. Anne’s will emerge.

On Sunday June 16, I invite the people, parishes, missions, and dioceses of our province to light a candle for the people of St. Anne’s and the surrounding community during their worship service. The tiny light of a candle has the power to illuminate the darkness and will serve as a reminder that life always triumphs over death.

Yours faithfully in Christ.