The executive directors of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) have published a letter of encouragement to constituents this week during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter—which you can read below—acknowledges the unusual circumstances and challenges surrounding this year’s Holy Week, while offering a message of hope and unity.
Doug Klassen, executive minister of Mennonite Church Canada, and Glen Guyton, executive director of MC USA, acknowledge “that this is a difficult time for many, as we mourn losses of loved ones, jobs, life milestones and so much more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” They encourage constituents to “take time to pray, meditate and hold tight to the hope that is in Christ Jesus.”
The directors also express the churches’ heartfelt thanks to those who are working at the forefront of the pandemic, acknowledging their “risk to self, long hours, creative problem solving and love for others.”
The letter concludes with an encouragement for people from all backgrounds to come together:
“This virus knows no boundaries – nor should we, as we share God’s infectious love, mercy and righteousness with neighbors… in such a time as this (Esther 4:13-14).”
Here is the full letter:
Dear members of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA:
“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven...” Ecc. 3:1
As we enter Holy Week during this time of physical distancing, we want you to know that our prayers and love are with you.
We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for many, as we mourn losses of loved ones, jobs, life milestones and so much more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to know that God is with us through all of this – and when things go wrong, God weeps too (John 11:33-35). As Anabaptist Mennonites, we believe that Jesus reveals “all the fullness of God” (Col. 1:19) and came to bring abundant life (John 10:10). In the coming season of Easter, where doors may remain locked out of fear (John 20:19), we encourage all members of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada to take time to pray, meditate and hold tight to the hope that is in Christ Jesus (Luke 24:21).
During this stressful time, we also want to express our heartfelt thanks to those who are serving our Saviour (Matt. 25:40) in our congregations and communities – those working in healthcare, service workers, teachers, pastors and those making masks in their homes, to name a few. We acknowledge your risk to self, long hours, creative problem solving and love for others. May the Lord renew your strength. May you run and not grow weary (Isaiah 40:31).
We often talk about “the church gathered” and “the church scattered.” Being the church during this season of prolonged scattering provides new opportunities to bring the peace of God’s love to the neighborhoods in which we live. We are all “priests” wherever we find ourselves. This is an opportunity to put on our stoles of non-anxious presence, wear the plain coat of humble service and practice foot- and handwashing in literal and figurative ways! During this season, perhaps we can reimagine our neighborhoods as our “parish.” In this time, folks from all backgrounds must come together – Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Buddhist, documented and undocumented, conservative and liberal. This virus knows no boundaries – nor should we, as we share God’s infectious love, mercy and righteousness with neighbors…in such a time as this (Esther 4:13-14).
Blessings to you as you celebrate the joy and hope of Jesus’ resurrection this week,
Mennonite Church Canada
Executive Director, #BringThePeace
Mennonite Church USA
Suggestions for daily spiritual practices:
MC Canada resources:
MC USA resources:
Watch: Anabaptists worldwide respond to COVID-19
Four ways MCC is responding to COVID-19
MC Canada congregations offering online worship services
Love in the time of COVID-19
The church has left the building