Thousands of Christians are converging on Thursday for a day of prayer, worship and fasting for Toronto and Canada.
The prayer movement is known as TheCRY Toronto. Its motto: "It's not a concert. It's not a conference. It's a CRY." The event focuses on the power of unified prayer and blessing.
"The heart of TheCRY is to bring people of faith together to bless this nation through prayer," says Faytene Grasseschi, director of TheCRY, which held its first prayer event in 2002 when about 10,000 Christians gathered on Parliament Hill to pray for Canada.
"The movement of unity definitely is transcending age groups and denominations and it's something God is doing not just in a nation, but in a generation," she says.
TheCRY Movement is gathering Christians with a heart to see God move in this generation to the historic Massey Hall in the center of downtown Toronto. Beyond an entertainment center, Toronto is also an epicenter for many economic, educational and even governmental trends. As Grasseschi sees it, to impact Toronto is to impact Canada.
As one of the world's most diverse cities, Toronto has a global impact. According to the 2006 census, half of Toronto's 2.48 million residents were born outside of Canada. Over 140 languages and dialects are spoken in the city, and the population represents over 200 distinct ethnic origins.
Pointing to this diversity, Grasseschi says, "If God can impact the nations within Toronto, it will literally impact the whole world."
Organizers of TheCRY say that their goal is not to criticize, but to bless the city to reach it's full potential.
"Back in the day it was called 'Toronto the Good,'" says Grasseschi. "And so we're going to come in and say, 'Toronto, you're good,' and call forth that dream in the heart of God for Toronto to manifest His goodness and for that to ripple across Canada and to the ends of the earth."
A broad range of Toronto's diverse Christian communities will be represented at TheCRY.
"Pastors in the city, cross-denominationally, cross-ethnically, have been sensing the call to come together to pray," said Hany Boghossian, Chair of MissionGTA. "We're seeing Anglicans, charismatics, some non-denominationals, evangelicals ... We have the Spanish Pastors Network that is coming along and bringing their churches and their congregations. We have the Filipino community ... There is a level of excitement that I have not seen in such a long time."