"I think for myself, and I think indeed the whole community of Carman and the surrounding towns, we're quite shocked and saddened by the tragic deaths that occurred on Sunday."
That from Reverend Harold Kenyon with the Carman United Church which on Monday opened its doors to whomever needed its support in the aftermath of five people from the community dying under circumstances that remain under investigation by Manitoba RCMP.
Several ministerial members in Carman met Monday to discuss how the church community in town can respond to the situation.
"We've been reaching out to community groups and partner organizations to offer and share resources," he explained. "We're certainly encouraging people who are grieving, and have been touched by this tragedy, to reach out to to their own churches, or different ways people might get support for grief. Certainly, our prayers are with the families, with the first responders and police who dealt with this event, and all who just find it a very tough day."
Kenyon noted no one ever imagines this could happen in their community.
"I just think we're all in shock, and we just need to support each other in any way we can," he shared. "We've had lots of calls, here at the church, because our church is going to be open, and people have offered to bring in food for somebody, like that sort of thing. They want to help."
He added, in the coming days, there will be lots of opportunity for the community to provide support to each other.
"It will be a whole community effort," he said. "There will be lots of different groups that provide support, and help people to process and grieve in different ways. At this time, we don't want people to be isolated. I think when we're together, we can support each other."
Carman United Church shared a social medial post Sunday night indicating it's sanctuary would be open for those who needed it, and it was quickly and widely shared. In an updated post Monday afternoon, the church indicated it would be open for the remainder of the week from 9am to 4pm for anyone that needs a quiet space or a person to talk to.
"We know people were paying attention, and it's good news for people to know the church is kind of aware, and trying to respond in some way," noted Kenyon. "That's what we're all trying to figure out, a way to respond, and we'll be doing that for many days."
And a final thought from the Reverend...
"I would encourage people to reach out and to support each other in prayer, and in any other way that's meaningful for them."
- With files from Candace Derksen -