Living in pandemic times, we have realized how important it is to stay connected with each other, as friends, in our own neighbourhoods and as church communities. We need contact with real people, and we’ve found ways for in-person connecting to happen safely. Some of us are tired of Zoom meetings, Facebook Live and YouTube webinars, but for others, digital platforms still help make connections, informing and inspiring us during times of physical isolation.
If, during this holiday season, you want to connect virtually with the larger Mennonite world, here are some digital opportunities.
Connecting with the nationwide church
Staff in the national and regional offices sometimes produce video messages to reach across the country. Recent ones include updates and season’s greetings. As of this writing, here are a few, but check your social media feeds for other greetings and words of inspiration.
- Mennonite Church Manitoba’s ministry together
- Advent greetings from Mennonite Church Canada, 2021
- Mennonite Church Saskatchewan Christmas 2021
- Mennonite Church Alberta Christmas greetings
Connecting with history
A creative venture called “The Anabaptist Story Lives on: Virtual Museum & Archive Tour,” hit our screens in 2020 and 2021. Kitchener-based travel company Tourmagination partnered with museums, archives and heritage centres across North America and to present hour-long virtual tours that explored the Anabaptist story through artifacts, photos and documents. There were three “rounds,” which you can still view today:
Connected in learning
“Treaty as Sacred Covenant” was the name of a year-long online series organized by the Truth and Reconciliation Working Group of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. Seeing treaties as covenantal relationships, Indigenous and non-Indigenous speakers told stories of broken covenants, sharing their hope for a more just future for all nations on this land. Descriptions of the episodes and links can be found here. They’re also on MC Eastern Canada’s YouTube page.
The Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies at University of Winnipeg offers lectures and panel presentations on topics of interest to Mennonites. Among others was the 2021 “Mennonite Studies Conference: MCC at 100,” held in the fall 2021. In a series of 11 sessions, presenters examined the past, present, and future of Mennonite Central Committee. These and other presentations are available on YouTube.
MennoMedia, the publisher that serves both Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, produces the “-Ing Podcast,” which is subtitled “Leading, Growing, Being.” More than 50 episodes feature thoughtful interviews with leaders and authors across the church. You can access them via MennoMedia’s website or wherever you get your podcasts.
Connecting in worship
The team behind Voices Together offers occasional videos featuring composers and text writers who contributed to the hymn collection. The text of a classic Advent song, “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” was adapted to reflect a more active role for Mary, the mother of Jesus, and now appears as no. 221 in the new collection. You can learn about the new text and hear the song here.
In the weeks leading up to Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday (Jan. 23, 2022), Mennonite World Conference is helping people across the globe connect through the Bible. The biblical texts suggested for worship on that Sunday come from Genesis, Psalm 104, John 20 and 1 Corinthians. A series of over 30 short videos features these texts in a variety of languages including Bengali, Bodo, Cantonese, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Mandarin, Nepali, Odiya, Portuguese, Spanish, Taiwanese, Tamil and English! Even if you don’t understand them all, you could combine video viewing with prayer for siblings in other parts of the world or share a video during a worship service. The list and links are here.
Connecting through music
The season leading up to Christmas inspires singers and instrumentalists to share their gifts with others. Here are two concerts to check out:
- Christmas at CMU 2021 is an hour-and-a-half concert performed by a variety of CMU’s music ensembles. Watch it on YouTube.
- Conrad Grebel University College offers a jazz concert as a tribute to the arrangers of big band jazz, with a performance by the University of Waterloo Jazz Ensemble. Watch and enjoy it here.
As part of my holiday celebrations, I plan to enjoy a recording of Handel’s Messiah and to worship with at least one online service of lessons and carols. My own congregation will be presenting its second annual Christmas pageant via Zoom. Yes, it’s possible; check out the script of the one we did last year: “Zooming in on the Nativity: A Virtual Christmas Pageant,” written by Carol Penner.
What opportunities for digital connections would you like to highlight? Feel free to post a suggestion in the comments section below.
Peace and joy to you, in all your connections!