Thursday, 27 June 2013
General Secretary's Weekly Letter
June 27, 2013
Calgary, High River, Canmore: these are names that I associate with mountain views and beautiful Alberta landscape. My other strong association is with my family of Calgary cousins. It’s been a shock these past few days to hear the lead item on the news each morning focused on the devastating floodwaters that have encroached on roads, businesses, and homes in cities, villages and First Nations in southern Alberta.
One of the congregations most directly affected is High River United Church, which has a beautiful new building that is less than five years old. The pictures of the sanctuary with the water half way up the pews, and the outdoor sign sitting in the middle of a lake, are dramatic. The Rev. Susan Lukey reports that after working with a crew from the church to place sandbags and move precious items, she stayed to do one more thing and got caught: the waters rose so quickly that she couldn’t get out. Just imagine the night she spent alone in the church, up on the ledge by the cross, as the water flowed into the church.
Another church that has been severely impacted is the Chinese United Church, along with the Oi Kwan Place seniors’ residence in Calgary. Being located on the banks of the Bow River has been an attractive feature of Oi Kwan Place: no one would have predicted the river overflowing its banks as it has this week.
Many people – including my aunt, and many from our churches – were forced to leave their homes, often on very short notice. Probably everyone in southern Alberta has been affected in some way. Many people have experienced flooding in their homes and communities, or have had their electricity cut off, their offices closed, or road access diverted. Others have offered help or accommodation to those more directly affected, or worried about friends or family in the flood zone.
This is what we might call “a disaster of biblical proportions.” That phrase tends to call to mind the floods and famines and mass disasters that we hear about in the Hebrew scriptures. I wonder if we could coin a new phrase: “Love of biblical proportions”! We could use it to reach out to those affected by the Alberta floods, and other disasters anywhere in the world, as Jesus would want us to do. Whether we offer cash, services, messages of support, or prayers, there are so many ways to live out this love.
I know there were prayers of support offered in United Churches across the country on Sunday. Staff of this office worked on the weekend to get a message of concern, and suggestions of how to help , up on the website.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the floods in Alberta, and those downstream worrying about what is next for them.