As November floods brought death and devastation to parts of southern British Columbia, Canadian Anglican offered prayers and help to residents.
When this story was being written in late November, four people had died and hundreds had been displaced after extremely heavy rain caused widespread flooding. Major highways were damaged, leading to travel restrictions and shortages of food, fuel and other necessities—and much more rain was in the forecast.
On Nov. 21, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Indigenous Archbishop Mark MacDonald hosted an online national prayer service, A Vigil for British Columbia. The vigil offered support to those impacted by the floods, with MacDonald offering a homily.
Other bishops and clergy from B.C. joined them to lead prayers, Bible readings and worship. These included Bishop Anna Greenwood-Lee of the diocese of British Columbia; Archbishop Lynne McNaughton, metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon; the Rev. Isabel Healy Morrow from Merritt and the Rev. Angus Muir from Lytton; pastoral elder Amy Charlie, also from Lytton; and Bishop John Stephens and Executive Archdeacon Douglas Fenton, both of the diocese of New Westminster.
The primate said the vigil sought “to lift our voices in prayer at a time when our hearts are filled and heavy with the pain and the struggle of what is happening in British Columbia.”
Bishops in the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon released a joint statement on Nov. 17 that detailed the urgent situation in the province. “We have seen frightening and dramatic scenes of the raging waters and destruction,” the bishops wrote. They noted many pastoral elders who had fled this summer’s wildfire in Lytton have now been forced to leave their new homes in Merritt.
Anglicans also turned to social media to share the plight of those affected.
“People are stranded and cut off from food, [medication] and emergency services,” MacDonald wrote on Facebook Nov. 15. “This is a catastrophe for communities, including the folks from Lytton that have suffered so much in the past year. Our Indigenous Anglican churches are severely threatened. People are terrified. Please pray.”
The Rev. Paul Richards, deacon at the Church of the Holy Trinity, White Rock, B.C., took to Facebook to describe his work with colleague the Rev. Allen Doerksen of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church to offer support and pastoral care to flood evacuees at Abbotsford Evacuation Centre. Richards reported on Nov. 16 that 1,100 homes had been evacuated and 5,000 cars abandoned in Abbotsford.
“Power is out to half the municipality,” Richards wrote. “Please keep these people in your prayers.”
Meanwhile, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund was accepting donations to support emergency response for those affected by the floods. Anglicans were also being invited to donate to the Sorrento Centre, a local Anglican church-affiliated retreat and conference centre which has housed many evacuees from Merritt and the surrounding area.