At 4pm on Sunday, November 24th, 2013, there was a special Choral Evensong service offered at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral. The title of the liturgy was “An Evensong to Pray for the Philippines,” and this was the Cathedral Choir’s opportunity to lead the music of a beloved liturgy, (seldom celebrated) and include an offertory with the offering received going directly to the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).
The Filipino population in Metro Vancouver is estimated at approximately 100,000 with one in every five Filipinos in Canada living in the Metro Vancouver Area. Many attend Christian churches of various denominations.
There are three Filipino Anglican Priests ministering in Anglican Churches in the Metro Vancouver Area and Filipino members throughout many other congregations in the Diocese of New Westminster and beyond. All three priests: Reverend Father Wilmer Toyoken, Priest-in-Charge of St. Michael’s Multi-Cultural Church; Reverend Father Expedito Farinas, Rector of St. Mary the Virgin, South Hill; and Reverend Father Louisito Engnan, Rector, St. Michael's, Surrey, were present. Rev. Engnan known more familiarly as Father Louie was the homilist.
Cathedral Choir under the direction of organist/director of music Rupert Lang were superb. From the classical textures of Mendelssohn’s "Cast thy burdens upon the Lord", to the Victorian splendour of Charles V. Stanford’s "Evening Service in C", to the contemporary setting of Versicles and Responses composed by the renowned British organist and choral conductor Martin Neary, the choir handled the repertoire skillfully.
Father Louie began his homily by making reference to the soon-to-be-phased-out mandatory Air Care check in the Metro Vancouver Area. He pointed out that one of the three gases checked by this process is Carbon Monoxide, a Green House gas largely caused by the burning for energy purposes of fossil fuels. The increase of Green House gases is seen by many environmental scientists to be one of the principal causes of the planet Earth’s temperature increase which manifests in erratic weather patterns resulting in disastrous storms like Typhoon Haiyan.
The most recent numbers in regard to the devastation of Haiyan reveal that there are; 7,000 dead or missing, 25,000 injured and as many as 1.9 million homeless. Father Louie pointed out that those numbers combined are pretty close to the population of the Metro Vancouver Area.
He then reminded us that it is still not unusual for the people of the Philippines to view something like Typhoon Haiyan through a more primitive lens. Sometimes the general feeling is that this level of natural disaster is punishment for sins. He asked, “Is this disaster God’s punishment or a result of our negligence as stewards of God’s creation?”
He further explored this question using the example of the most recent addition to the Baptismal Covenant in the Book of Alternative Services (the ninth question on the Covenant inquiry) approved at the last General Synod, “Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth?” And the answer is “I will, with God’s help.” Therefore as Christians we must lead by faith, faith doesn’t mean that we should live our life apart from the real world but follow our commitment to God’s creation by allowing us to act on our belief that it is our responsibility as members of God’s church to “respect, sustain and renew” the earth.
We can do the things we need to do because of the firm foundation of our faith, like the wise man who built his house on rock in the Gospel text read earlier:
‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’ Matthew 7:24-27
(For the complete text of FATHER LOUIE'S SERMON please click the link)
The offering at the Evensong service totaled $2,800 and was directed immediately to Typhoon Haiyan relief through PWRDF.
There will also be an offering at the Opening Eucharist of the Electoral Synod on Saturday, November 30th at Christ Church Cathedral. The offering received at this service will also be forwarded directly to PWRDF to aid the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
Image: The Reverend Father Louisito (Louie) Engnan