Crying Out to God for Toronto

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Thousands Pray at Massey Hall

A long line of enthusiastic Christians encircled Massey Hall on July 28. The cheerful crowds sang worship songs as they waited for the doors to open for TheCRY Toronto, a daylong gathering of worship, prayer and fasting for Toronto and the nation of Canada.

"They prayed and sang wholeheartedly for the duration of the nine-hour long event."

“We are landing in a divine place at a divine time,” said Faytene Grasseschi, director of TheCRY. “This is not a concert. This is not a conference. This is our CRY.” 

TheCRY prayer gatherings follow the model of biblical solemn assemblies found in Joel 2:12-19. Their goal is to cry out for God to move in our generation. This mandate was taken seriously by the over 2,000 believers in attendance at Massey Hall, together with hundreds connected online via live webstream. They prayed and sang wholeheartedly for the duration of the nine-hour long event.

The day began with recognition of the First Peoples of the land, as First Nations worship leader Jonathan Maracle led the crowd to worship the Lord through traditional First Nations style music. Approximately two dozen local pastors were subsequently invited on stage to welcome God’s presence into the city.

"The recent series of mass shootings in Toronto provided a sober backdrop to prayers for peace in the city."

During the course of the day, prayers were offered for such topics as the strengthening of Canadian families, government and media, Israel and peace in the Middle East, and solidarity between Canada and the United States. The issue of abortion was also addressed, as participants pledged to help women and children in crisis due to unplanned pregnancies.

The recent series of mass shootings in Toronto provided a sober backdrop to prayers for peace in the city, as well as an emotional time of repentance that left the leaders on stage and most of the audience on their knees.

An extended time of blessing for the province of Quebec was sparked by the announcement that a recent Ipsos Reid poll indicates that almost half (49%) of Canadians living outside Quebec agree they “don’t care if Quebec separates.”

Pastors and leaders from other provinces responded by surrounding French Canadian pastors and repenting on behalf of English Canada, expressing love for and solidarity with Quebec. In response, French Canadian pastors pledged unity with English Canada.

Veronique Golloher, pastor of Catch The Fire Midtown, led the French Canadian response. "The Quebec part was a surprise and it was touching,” said Golloher. “I thought people wouldn't want to pray for that ... but the issues are still so there and so raw in my heart, it was beautiful to see the Body [of Christ] pray."

Toronto’s diversity was also displayed throughout TheCRY. During an exuberant worship set, First Nations dancers in full regalia, modern dancers, and a gravity-defying break dancer simultaneously let their skills rip across the stage in a spontaneous, eye-popping multicultural dance break.

"Historic Massey Hall has a unique spiritual heritage as a hub for packed out revivals"

There was also an echo of history in TheCRY Toronto. Historic Massey Hall has a unique spiritual heritage as a hub for packed out revivals that shook the city over the last century. The hall was given as a gift to the City of Toronto by a devout Methodist, Hart Massey, for “the cultivation of good citizenship and patriotism … philanthropy [and] religion.” To find out more about this history, visit Hearing TheCRY at Massey Hall.

In 1919, more than 30,000 Torontonians attended overflowing services held by evangelist Paul Rader at Massey Hall. In an article titled “Massey Hall Packed Again,” The Globe and Mail reported Rader’s audiences sang hymns “with a vigor that fairly shook old Massey Hall.”

At TheCRY Toronto, the praise and prayers of believers shook Massey Hall once again. As they gathered to welcome the presence of God to Toronto, participants believed that their prayers touched the city and nation as well.

TheCRY Toronto webstream footage is available for viewing online until the end of August 2012 here. For more information on TheCRY Movement, please visit www.thecrymovement.com.