ASeventh-day Adventist leader, pastor, and police chaplain in Canada recently had an unprecedented opportunity to witness to Muslims living in a populous area northeast of Toronto.
Pastor Mansfield Edwards was a guest speaker in one of the official candlelight vigils convened by the various levels of government on February 1 in the wake of the Quebec City mosque shooting that, according to media reports, left six people dead and at least 19 injured last January 29.
Edwards, who is the president of the church's Ontario Conference region, was invited to address the religious and civil leaders, as well as the community members—most of them of the Muslim faith—who packed the council chambers of the Markham Civic Center in the Ontario city of Markham.
The candlelight vigil was hosted by Frank Scarpatti, the Mayor of Markham. Its goal, according to official city websites, was to “find a way to express […] grief and mourning,” and “to show solidarity with our Muslim community.” The city of Markham, with a population of over 300,000, is known for its multiethnic and multiracial demographics. According to the 2011 Canadian Census, more than 22,000, or 7.3 per cent of the population, identify themselves as Muslims.
A few days before the vigil, Edwards received a call from Eric Jolliffe, Chief of the York Regional Police, a five-district region that includes Markham. Through the years, Edwards has volunteered as a police chaplain and developed a good relationship with law enforcement authorities. He was elated to find out he was being invited to speak at the regional event.