I would imagine that by now all of you have seen the horrifying images of the fires in Fort McMurray. Late last night, the Rev. Paul Walfall, the current President of the Conference of Alberta and Northwest in the United Church of Canada published this prayer on the conference website:
“By now you have heard about the fires in Fort McMurray. I write to ask that we remember the people in Fort McMurray in a special way in our prayers. As well as dealing with the fires, the community has also been hard hit by the current economic slump in the province.
Let us also remember the United Church of Canada Pastoral Charge in Fort McMurray, its people and its minister, Rev. Donalee Williams, and her family in our prayers.
Keep your hearts, minds and ears open as more news is made available. In the interim let us send to the people who live and work in Fort McMurray our love and prayers as they pass through this difficult time.”
You can find the full text here: http://albertanorthwestconference.ca/14281-prayers-fort-mcmurray/
I think it is safe to say that many of us personally know people who have been affected by what is happening there today. In major disasters such as this, we look at the images on our screens, wanting to do something, but not knowing what. As many of the news reports that have been in place, donating to the Canadian Red Cross to provide disaster relief assistance can be done here:
My concern as I look at these images, is the long-term effects this will have. I have contacted the Rev. Leigh Sinclair, who was minister in Slave Lake five years ago when fires ravaged that community. I have asked her what long-term aid will be needed once the fires have subsided and people return to the ashes that once were their homes. I would hope that our prayers spur us to action, and that we may respond to needs as they come.
In the short-term, in addition to the Red Cross option, we have set up a special fund for disaster relief for Fort McMurray through St. Matthew’s that we will use to send to where it is needed. You can donate to this either through designating it through your envelopes on Sunday mornings, or using our donations page on our website:
If you decide to make use of this, please make sure to choose “I wish to designate this donation to a specific fund” and select “Fort McMurray Wildfire Aid” when you make your donation.
Our prayers go out to the people of Fort McMurray. For those of you who have friends or relatives caught in the midst of this, our prayers are also for you in the midst of great anxiety. May God protect those both under the evacuation order, and those who are putting themselves in danger to bring these wildfires under control.
Yours in Christ,