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Fort McMurray Wildfire: Pray and Give

May 4, 2016 3 Comments
Bumper to bumper traffic as Fort McMurray residents flee wildfire.

Bumper to bumper traffic as Fort McMurray residents flee wildfire.

UPDATE: The Canadian Lutheran published an update on the situation in Fort McMurray and how Lutherans are helping on May 13, 2016.

UPDATE: As of May 10, reports indicate that approximately 2,400 houses and other buildings have been destroyed in Fort McMurray. The nearby communities of Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, and Fort McMurray First Nation were also evacuated. Two people are confirmed dead, following an accident in the initial evacuation of Fort McMurray.

CANADA – Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) has joined Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) in issuing an appeal for prayers and financial support for all those suffering loss due to the wildfires striking northern Alberta, especially residents of Fort McMurray. An estimated 88,000 people have fled that city in the face of a devastating fire. Entire neighbourhoods have been decimated, with as many as 1,600 buildings destroyed so far.

Incredibly, there have been no reported deaths or injuries. The fire is still out of control, however, and damages are expected to increase. There was also word Wednesday of a separate wildfire threatening another community west of Edmonton.

“God’s Word teaches, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep’ (Romans 12:15),” President Robert Bugbee of Lutheran Church–Canada notes. “I’m asking the members of Synod’s family across the land to enter into the sorrows of people in Fort McMurray, to name those troubles in your prayers, and to consider how you might be able to reinforce your prayers with concrete, loving action. Our friends at Canadian Lutheran World Relief are asking Lutherans across Canada to contribute toward an emergency fund, and I want to encourage our Lutheran Church-Canada congregations to take part in it as the Lord enables you.”

You can support CLWR’s work:

  1. By making a designated offering donation through any LCC congregation.
  2. By giving online at “Fort McMurray Wildfire Relief.”
  3. By calling CLWR at 1.800.661.2597 (locally at 204.694.5602) to donate by credit card.
  4. By sending a cheque made payable to CLWR and mailed to CLWR, 600-177 Lombard Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0W5. Please indicate that you wish to contribute to “Fort McMurray Wildfire Relief.”

“Psalm 46 talks about the faith God’s people hold in times like this,” explains Rev. Nolan Astley, LCC’s Interim Pastoral Leader for Alberta and British Columbia. “Even though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea and fires rage, the Lord Almighty is with us. ‘There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God’ (Psalm 46:4). In times like this as Christian people we are called to be that river, bringing God’s ‎love and care to those who have been deeply affected by this disaster.”

In addition to providing physical aid, sharing God’s love also means providing for the spiritual needs of those affected in the current disaster. The Alberta-British Columbia District is encouraging LCC pastors in Edmonton to visit evacuation centres in order to pray with people, share God’s Word with them, and learn how congregations might further assist in relief efforts.

The church is also working to ensure continued pastoral support for those affected by the wildfires in the weeks and months to come. Fort McMurray is home to Trinity Lutheran Church, a LCC congregation currently without a pastor. “We are making plans to have pastors on location when the people return so that they can provide pastoral care to church members and to other residents of the community,” notes ABC District President Glenn Schaeffer. “When people return home many will be seeking prayer, spiritual care, and counsel rooted in God’s Word. We plan to be present in the days, weeks, and months ahead.”

“I have been in communication with one of the members of Trinity Lutheran Church,” President Schaeffer notes, “and he says the thing they need most right now is for God’s people to pray.”

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Banner image used under CC BY-SA 4.0.