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Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends in Christ,

On Wednesday, folks across the UK gathered at 6 p.m. to clap in appreciation for Captain Sir Tom Moore. The centenarian won the hearts of so many when he walked 100 laps in his garden last summer during the first wave of COVID-19. He pushed his walker round and round in the hopes of raising about £1,000 for the National Health Service to combat the disease. In the end, almost 1.5 million people contributed to his campaign, raising just a little under £33 million. In recognition of his extraordinary effort, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in July of last year. Last week he was taken to hospital to be treated for COVID-19 and on Tuesday he succumbed to the very disease that he walked so valiantly against. One person inspiring the many to keep going.

On Wednesday, Fred Van Vleet, a guard for the Toronto Raptors, broke two records on the basketball court in a game against the Orlando Magic. He scored 54 points, the most by a single player in franchise history. The point total was also the most scored by an undrafted player in NBA history. He scored 11 three-pointers and made it look so easy. Four years ago, Van Vleet threw himself a party on draft night, only to be passed over by every team. When the draft was completed, he thanked his guests for coming. Tonight, I bet on myself, he said. Disappointed but not defeated, he set his sights on making it to the NBA.

The most wonderful moment on Wednesday evening was watching the scene postgame in the Raptors locker room. All the other players huddled together out of sight, water bottles in hand. When Van Vleet stepped into the room, the team mauled him with water, hugs and jubilation. It was like watching children at play again. One person inspiring the many to keep going.

Just yesterday I was asked, so what keeps you going? What keeps you motivated in these hard days of global pandemic?

What keeps me going are stories like Captain Sir Tom and Fred Van Vleet. Ordinary people working against the odds to make a difference and inspiring others to do the same. Ordinary people who silence the voices of their own self doubt and bet on themselves. What keeps me encouraged is knowing that Anglicans across the Diocese are working hard every day to keep the Church moving and gathering against all odds. I am inspired by communities large and small that put their own needs to the side to meet the despair in the other. I am moved by the countless volunteers who, day by day, feed the hungry, find housing for the poor, reach for the lonely, study the scriptures and pray. And, I suppose, I am moved the most by the simplest of gestures, like making the time to pick up the phone and calling someone on the parish list. It means the earth to simply say to the one on the other end of the line, I am thinking about you today. I miss you. You matter. You are in my prayers. One disciple of Christ inspiring the many to keep going. One day we will play like children again.

Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto