May 16, 2011
To: The people of Alberta and Northwest Conference
Subject: Prayers and thoughts for the people of Slave Lake
Many of us in the Conference awoke on Monday morning to news of the destruction that has occurred in Slave Lake as a result of raging wildfires pushed in to the town by winds of up to one hundred km per hour. As the day progressed we heard estimates that a large percentage of the town was destroyed, including many key buildings and churches, but more importantly, the homes of hundreds of Slave Lake residents.
With the town having been evacuated it is likely that many Slave Lake residents do not yet know what happened to their homes.
I know that you along with me are praying for the residents of Slave Lake as they face the devastation and grief of so much loss. All reports so far have indicated that despite the tremendous speed at which this catastrophe has happened, and the large number of homes, businesses and other buildings that have been destroyed, there has been no loss of life. We can hope and pray that this small blessing in the midst of such ruin will continue to hold true.
The work of re-building will take not only hard work, but also the strong commitment of many people, and a strength of will that will be hard to find in the midst of such loss.
We all know that the church is more than a building, but for those people who have lost their place of worship, it will be an especially traumatic time. However, the church is more than a building and I know that the church is also more than the people in a particular community. And so I invite us as the church to be with the people of Slave Lake, offering the hope and presence of God in all the different ways that are possible.
Please hold the people of Slave Lake in your thoughts and in your prayers, and be encouraged in whatever way you can to offer whatever other assistance you can.
We also hold in gratitude everyone who has responded to this crisis, and made things just a little bit easier in the midst of shock, loss, fear and disbelief.
We will continue to monitor the situation in Slave Lake, with particular concern for the community of faith, and we will provide updates as soon as we can, along with any information we can provide about ways that you can help in the days to come.
And to the people of Slave Lake, may you know the power, strength and love of God in this time, and may God's presence be made known to you by the people of God who are standing, praying and working with you in this very difficult time.
President, ANW Conference
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Slave Lake Fires
The following is a Pastoral Letter from the Rev. Peter Chynoweth, President of Alberta Northwest Conference: