Toronto’s recent spate of gun violence is being dealt with all sorts of ways by different communities. For the adherents of the new-age, multi-denominational Christian movement The CRY, it was a massive, fevered prayer meeting at Massey Hall on Saturday.
On the same stage where Luciano Pavarotti, Bob Dylan, and Charles Mingus once performed, pastors punctuated lengthy biblical readings with unbridled “woos” and shrieks, while dancers flitted about the stage.
Two thousand adherents showed up to pray. According to attendee Alice Nykamp, it was for “unity for the city of Toronto, an end to the violence…that God will change people’s hearts and bring renewal to the city.”
Founded in Ottawa in 2002, the socially conservative group mixes new-age philosophy with evangelical Christianity, and holds regular prayer marathons across North America, hoping to encourage God’s intervention in to right societal wrongs. This March, they booked the 6,000-seat Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles for “The CRY Hollywood,” to pray for the American entertainment industry.
Besides an end to gun violence, the Toronto event also included more typical evangelical fare—prayers against abortion, for example.
Despite the 10-plus hours of prayer and fasting, ticketholders like 19-year-old Darien Micallef appeared robust in the face of the day’s punishing schedule of songs and psalms. “We’re looking for the Lord to sustain us,” she said. She discovered the movement through her Pentecostal church in Oshawa. “We’re not focused on the hours as much as we’re like, ‘Let’s do this.’ We’re pumped. Hopefully, that adrenaline will sustain us, too.”
In the midst of all the excitement, two Massey Hall ushers spent much of the day looking on from the unoccupied second balcony—as far from the proceedings as possible