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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. – 2 Corinthians 5:1

Beloved in Christ,

Yesterday’s Epistle reading was providential and poignant for all of us in the Diocese of Toronto, as we lost one of our most beloved buildings to fire. St. Anne, Gladstone Avenue in Toronto was a jewel of our Church, with its priceless artwork, and architecture that allowed for glorious acoustics. It was a gathering place for the local community, for the arts world, and became a hub for generous and faithful outreach ministry. Most importantly, for its vibrant worshipping community, it was home. And so, we grieve.

The parish of St. Mary Magdalene opened its doors to welcome the community of St. Anne’s to gather in the afternoon. I was fortunate to be present to offer words of encouragement and support. Mayor Olivia Chow was there, too. The Rev. Don Beyers and the Rev. Hannah Johnston were magnificent in their pastoral care. The congregation exhibited resilience and hope in the midst of their sorrow and pain. It was very moving.

The reading from 2 Corinthians yesterday references that the buildings and structures of this world are all transitory. Everything that we see now will pass away. But as people of faith, we know that God’s provision is eternal – and in our midst. God’s accommodation is not of bricks and mortar, organ and pew, glass and paint and mosaic. Our eternal home is the source of all blessing and goodness, the originator of music and beauty, of service and care, of love and community.

On Sunday morning, Mary and I were present at Christ Church in Stouffville to celebrate the confirmation, reaffirmation and reception of 12 members. Fr. Don had served as an assistant curate there. When I shared the devastating news, the reactions were deeply personal. That afternoon, one family from Christ Church made the trip to St. Mary Magdalene’s to be present and to say, we are with you. St. Anne’s, you are not alone. All 200 congregations of the Diocese of Toronto are with you, praying for you, and will walk with you through this next chapter in our life together. Words of encouragement are coming from right across the Church, from coast to coast to coast and beyond.

And the Triune God who has sustained and blessed you for over 100 years of life and ministry is with you still. May you feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit as you grieve the loss of your beautiful earthly tent, as we lean confidently into Jesus Christ’s promise that “in my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”

In sure and certain hope,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto