A few weeks before Christmas the clergy of the Diocese of New Westminster received an email from the Executive Archdeacon; it was a call for assistance on behalf of Bishop Isaiah Beardy and Archbishop Mark Macdonald. One of their communities in Northern Manitoba had lost in a matter of days two individuals to suicide – one only 12 years old. The invitation was for clergy and theological students who could help the local ministers with services over Christmas, pastoral care, and the high number of funerals due to suicide and chronic illness.
Canon Donald Lawton, an honorary at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in West Vancouver and an active member of our community at St. John the Divine, answered that call. With experience serving with Indigenous communities in the Yukon, and training and experience with grief and suicide counselling, he was well suited for the context.
So, for the last few weeks, Canon Donald has been in Northern Manitoba, serving primarily in Split Lake. His work has been diverse, including counselling families, blessing a building where a suicide occurred, speaking at Gospel Healing Jamborees, preaching, celebrating communion, assisting at funerals, and baptizing members of the community.
He has shared that the book of Lamentations always seems to communicate the depth of emotions, especially when people are grieving and struggling, and so has been focusing his reading there.
Please pray for Canon Donald’s work, and for the people and communities that he is serving alongside in Northern Manitoba.
Thanks to Norma Lawton and Canon Donald Lawton for the updates and information.