Church responds to shooting spree

Archbishop Colin Johnson walks with a large crowd of people on Danforth Ave.
Ellen Johnson, the Rev. Beverly Williams of Flemingdon Park Ministry and Archbishop Colin Johnson walk in a candlelight procession along Danforth Avenue in Toronto during the vigil.
 on September 1, 2018
Michael Hudson

Cleric helps plan vigil

Archbishop Colin Johnson and his wife Ellen joined thousands of people for a vigil on Danforth Avenue in Toronto on July 25 after a man shot and killed a young woman and a girl in the neighbourhood four days earlier.

The shooting spree, which injured 13 others, took place outside St. Barnabas Anglican Church on Danforth Avenue. “We were right in the middle of it,” said the Rev. Jeanette Lewis, priest-in-charge.

The church was open the next day to help people cope. About 50 people showed up. “Some just wanted to sit quietly, others wanted to talk,” said Ms. Lewis. “For a lot of people, it brought up some really sad things. They were going through difficult things and they just needed someone to talk to.”

Ms. Lewis and other local clergy met with community leaders to organize the vigil, which started near Danforth Church and ended at nearby Alexander the Great Parkette. Among those in attendance were Premier Doug Ford, Mayor John Tory and police chief Mark Saunders. It included prayers, songs and speeches.

Ms. Lewis says she was glad to help the community begin to heal. “It’s how we should shine as church – by being there for people. It has been exhausting emotionally and physically but it feels good to be able to do something.”

She said the neighbourhood was rallying. “It’s a very tight knit group.” Some local residents made cookies and brought them to the church on the day after the shooting, for people who dropped by. “People just needed to be together and talk. There’s such compassion in this neighbourhood and this has really brought it out.”


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