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The lights of the Toronto sign are dimmed. I read these words last evening, while monitoring the news of the events following yesterday’s van attack on pedestrians on Yonge Street, in Toronto. A simple, but profound symbol of solidarity, grief and acknowledgement of the lives lost and changed by yesterdays events.

The lights are dimmed, but not out. We the people of Toronto Conference of The United Church of Canada will hold that light for you in the darkness of your fear and grief. We pray for you, as our hearts break. We join with those of all faiths in this wonderful diverse city to pray for healing and peace. We acknowledge in doing so that Toronto has long been a place of gathering for all our First Nations relations.

We hold the light of thanksgiving, for First Responders and hospital staff, for the calmness that they bring in the midst of chaos and violence. We are thankful for the citizens in the area, though devastated, offering their support to those who will continue to work long hours to understand the events; bringing flowers and candles, and tribute. We are mindful of the people whose work and businesses will be closed and for those today in Toronto who will muster the courage to walk down the street , rather than retreat into fear. We acknowledge too the tragedy of mental illness and pray for those who struggle in any way.

For the families, and friends of those whose lives were lost and for those who are injured we replace inadequate words with the silence of solidarity. Toronto is strong. Strong in its diversity, strong it its solidarity, calm, and goodness. I read a tweet yesterday from someone who rode the subway home during rush hour, after the news had broken. He spoke not of hatred, suspicion or fear, but of kindness, gentle smiles and people offering seats and help to one another. We can not control what happens around us, we can only control how we react.

May we walk in peace and love through the next few days, until the light and all of us, returns to full strength.

Blessed Be
Rev. Audrey Brown
President, Toronto Conference