The March 15, 2020, entry in our household calendar reads: “We started COVID-19 social distancing today.”
It’s been one year since the worldwide community began confronting the reality of the latest coronavirus. In the past twelve months, this pandemic has brought confusion, fear, anger, illness, death and more. No need for details—you know what I’m talking about.
When you consider Jesus’ three-year ministry, which specific events come to mind? Which of his actions inspire you the most?
When I was in seminary, one assignment was to pick one of the gospels and to identify every encounter Jesus had in that gospel. We were asked:
“Reconciliation is dead.”
I struggle often with my relative wealth and privilege. Working with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for 20-plus years helped give me something “to do” to address inequities in our world. Working with Mennonite World Conference (MWC) makes me even more aware of the inequities of wealth and privilege, and how we might respond as the church.
A few years ago I was trekking through a desolate, snow-filled forest, enjoying the spacious tranquility of a crisp winter hike, when I came upon a tree buzzing with activity and life. There were well over a hundred little birds gathered in and around a relatively small tree less than 10 metres ahead of me. It was striking both visually and audibly. Surreal even.
After a long period of waiting, we learned in December that a COVID-19 vaccine had been approved and distribution was beginning. We were told that, by the beginning of September, we all should have received the vaccine, and life can begin to return to “normal.”
“Together on [Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday], we feel connected to our brothers and sisters all over the world,” said Jannie Nijwening, pastor at Doopsgezind Gemeente Zaanstreek in the Netherlands.
Fifteen congregations have launched new websites through the Mennonite Church Canada congregational website hub.
“On the one hand, it’s hard work but it’s creative work,” says Rachel Siemens, pastor of Carman (Man.) Mennonite Church, whose website launched in August 2020. “What kind of images do we use, what do we say about us, what are the words we use to talk about ourselves?”
Jared Regier displays some of the fruits of his labour: winter squash and garlic, ready for storage. (Photo courtesy of Jared Regier)
As Jared Regier worked in his market garden plots, people walking by would stop and ask him questions about gardening. This led to the creation of the Vegetable Academy. (Photo courtesy of Jared Regier)
Jared Regier holds a tray of seedlings ready for transplant into his market garden. (Photo courtesy of Jared Regier)
The seed that eventually grew into the Vegetable Academy was planted when Jared Regier was a boy working, somewhat reluctantly, in his parents’ garden.
“Good food was always part of our home,” he says, and gardening was “an essential part of being human.”
Should Mennonite Church Canada leaders promote vaccines during this public health emergency?
That question arose in January when Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, met with over 1,300 Canadian faith leaders, including from MC Canada, to encourage them to promote vaccines to their members.
It may seem obvious when humour crosses the line, but Christians have not always agreed when it is appropriate and when it is not. In fact, throughout many periods of history, Christians have felt that laughing and comedy were terrible sins.
When Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) moved its Xplore classes online for the fall 2020 semester due to COVID-19, Marlene Janzen was thrilled. Janzen lives in Ottawa, so the new format meant she could participate for the first time.
“This was really interesting to me, to access these resources from CMU,” she says, adding that she had a great experience in her course.
Celebrating the contribution of women composers in Voices Together means reclaiming the voices of historical women whose work has been overlooked and also to “elevate the voices of women who are living,” said Anneli Loepp Thiessen.
In this time of isolation, some members of Abbotsford’s Emmanuel Mennonite Church are discovering the delights of a relationship based on the old-fashioned medium of handwritten letters.
Everyone knows how a good walk in nature makes them feel: relaxed and refreshed. Due to pandemic guidelines, though, many activities have been restricted, but walking is not one of them.
Epp sisters Anna Klaassen (1904-1976) and Maria Nickel (1903-1957) work together on the family farm in Saskatchewan stooking sheaves of grain. Stooking required workers to gather the cut grain into sheaves and then to stand the sheaves upright to help dry the grain before it is threshed. It was back-breaking work.