Prayers for Alberta fires, Manitoba floods

The Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has expressed his concern and care for people affected by forest fires in Alberta and flooding in Manitoba. In letters to the dioceses of Athabasca, Brandon, and Rupert’s Land, the Primate assured all those coping with fires and floods that the prayers of Canadian Anglicans are with them.

Forest fires in northern Alberta have damaged an estimated 30 per cent of buildings in Slave Lake, 250 kilometres north of Edmonton. More than 7,000 residents have been evacuated and although the fire is now contained, it is still burning.

Bishop Fraser Lawton, Diocese of Athabasca, said that the building of St. Peter’s Ecumenical Church—a shared Anglican, Lutheran, and United ministry—is still intact, although damage will be assessed when residents return to Slave Lake. At least five families from St. Peter’s have lost their homes. Meanwhile, Anglican communities in Boyle, Athabasca, and High Prairie are caring for evacuees.

In his letter to Bishop Lawton, Archbishop Hiltz said he is praying “for those who continue to battle the blazes, for all who have been forced to leave their homes and for all who are helping them.”

In southern Manitoba, serious flooding continues to affect homes and farmland. On May 14, dikes around the swollen Assiniboine River were intentionally breached to prevent greater flooding.

“We are moved by the sacrifice so many are prepared to make in allowing their homes and lands to be flooded so that so many others may be spared,” said the Primate in his letter to bishops Jim Njegovan (Brandon) and Don Phillips (Rupert’s Land).

So far there has not been major damage in the threatened areas of Brandon and Portage la Prairie area, though the floods may affect other communities, including those on the shores of Lake Manitoba.

Anglicans are among the thousands of Manitobans who are responding to the floods by volunteering in evacuee centres, sandbagging, and praying.

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