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MCC set to address COVID-19 threats

Thiciano Pareja Saucedo, 8, washes her hands at El Comedor de Niños, an after-school program for children in the Montero area of Bolivia, about an hour from Santa Cruz. One of its main goals is to improve nutrition and health outcomes in the community by teaching children about healthy eating, gardening and hygiene. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Middle East Council of Churches, an MCC partner, distributed MCC relief kits, which contain hygiene supplies, to the most vulnerable displaced people and host community members in a neighbourhood in the Syriac Orthodox diocese in Aleppo, Syria, in 2016. This year, MCC’s partners in Syria and Lebanon will distribute individual hygiene kits and food to help people protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. Names are withheld for security reasons. (Photo courtesy of MECC)

As COVID-19 spreads and worsens, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) continues its worldwide work while attending to the health and well-being of its staff. 

Caring during COVID-19 crisis

House of Friendship’s Sunnydale Community Centre, usually a hub for a diverse range of community programs, is quiet, its programs cancelled or modified due to pandemic protocols outlined in the notices on the door. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

House of Friendship’s Sunnydale Community Centre, usually a hub for a diverse range of community programs, is quiet, its programs cancelled or modified due to pandemic protocols outlined in the notices on the door.
Notices on the door of House of Friendship’s Sunnydale Community Centre in Waterloo, Ont., explain the pandemic protocols that have led to the closure of the centre and the cancellation or modification of its diverse range of community programs. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

How do you stay home when you don’t have a home? How do you physically isolate when you already seem invisible? How do you wash your hands frequently when public facilities are closed?

Doing justice in a pandemic

Prison visits through Person to Person aren’t happening in person right now. Volunteers are encouraged to write letters to inmates instead. (Photographed simulation featuring restorative justice staff and volunteers.) (Photo by Amy Smith)

COVID-19 has altered the lives of most Canadians, but for those in prison and those reintegrating into society after prison terms, the pandemic’s impact is enormous.

Musician offers online singalong

Singing into an iPad propped on top of a stack of books, Bryan Moyer Suderman leads an online singalong from his home, to help people connect and find encouragement and hope during days of physical distancing. (Photo by Julie Moyer Suderman)

“A little bit of yeast makes the whole dough rise . . . you do your part; I’ll do mine,” sings Bryan Moyer Suderman, using his body as a percussion instrument. But instead of singing at a concert or a worship service, the itinerant musician is at home singing into an iPad propped up on a stack of books, doing his part to practise physical distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Saskatchewan health-care professionals reflect on COVID-19

Erik and Cara Epp are shown with their daughter. (Photo courtesy of Cara Epp)

While many people are staying home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, some, like Erik and Cara Epp, continue to work because their jobs are considered essential. The Epps, who live in Rosthern, both work in health care. 

As a pharmacist, Erik divides his workdays between Rosthern’s two pharmacies. 

Mennonite Church Alberta holds virtual AGM

A screen shot of participants at this year’s MC Alberta annual general meeting, held online using the Zoom platform. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

With COVID-19 limiting the ability to connect in person, virtual meetings now seem to be the wave of the future. Mennonite Church Alberta had already been using the Zoom platform to hold small provincial committee meetings online, but when its annual general meeting (AGM) was cancelled, the regional church decided to explore whether a larger meeting with Zoom could work as well.

Nourishing body, mind and spirit

Realizing the interconnectedness of mental health and wellness may be key in coping with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

The spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced Canadians to learn to cope with forced isolation, loss of work and social events, and an uncertain future. For a church community accustomed to weekly worship services and small group gatherings, learning how to maintain a sense of community and foster wellness among members presents an unprecedented challenge.

Grebelites continue in community amid COVID-19 separation

At Grebel, students are craving community connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured, apartment dwellers visit with Grebel’s director of operations, Paul Penner, outside their window, and with the director of student services, Mary Brubaker-Zehr, via video chat. (Photo by Anna Kuepfer)

Most people’s lives have shifted dramatically in the past few weeks, as they grapple with social isolation, educational upheaval, job changes, pandemic preparations and health-care emergencies surrounding COVID-19. Conrad Grebel University College is no different.

COVID-19 has significant impact for MDS

Curtis and Heather Funk of Winkler, Man., work on a house in Marianna, Fla., one of the Mennonite Disaster Service projects now shut down due to COVID-19. (Photo by Paul Hunt)

For Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), COVID-19 has had a significant impact on operations.

It started on March 13, when the organization closed all current projects in locations across the United States due to the coronavirus; there were no projects in operation in Canada. A week later, it suspended all summer programs in both countries.

In a time of uncertainty

The sign outside Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., announces the stark reality of church closure due to health concerns. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

With the spread of the COVID-19 virus prompting provincial health authorities to recommend social distancing, including public gatherings not to exceed 250 people, Fraser Valley Mennonite churches scrambled to react appropriately for the third Sunday of Lent on March 15.

Heading home early

Siaka Traoré, a Mennonite Pastor of the Eglise Evangelique Mennonite in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

When Pastor Siaka Traoré packed his bags for his trip to Canada and the United States in early March, it never crossed his mind that almost every event and visit he had planned would be cancelled. 

‘I have hope now’

Participants in East Zorra Mennonite Church’s learning trip to the Philippines are pictured with MC Canada Witness workers Dann and Joji Pantoja in front of the Coffee for Peace sign. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

The East Zorra Mennonite Church learning tour group gathers at the Davao City welcome sign, in the Mindanao region of the Philippines, where they visited tribal groups and witnessed the peacebuilding efforts of MC Canada Witness workers Dann and Joji Pantoja. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

(Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Participants on a learning trip to the Philippines from East Zorra Mennonite Church gather with the Bagobo Tagabawa Tribe as part of celebrations that included dancing, music, prayer and food. The tribe hopes to establish itself as quality coffee producers. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Participants on a learning trip to the Philippines from East Zorra Mennonite Church listen to an elder from the Talaandig Tribe. (Photo courtesy of waves.ca)

Twelve people from East Zorra Mennonite Church, near Tavistock, Ont., knew they would be impacted by their 10-day learning tour to the Philippines in early January. What they didn’t expect was how much their visit would impact the Indigenous people they met.

“I have hope now,” one of the local coffee farmers told the group from East Zorra. 

Looking forward during a time of transition

The minutes, board actions, nominations slate and budget at this year’s MC Manitoba annual gathering were all approved. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Gerald Gerbrandt, MC Manitoba moderator, left, and Ken Warkentin are pictured at the regional 2020 annual gathering. Warkentin will be leaving his role as executive minister after nine years in the position. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

“Where are we headed? What are the challenges we are facing?” At the 2020 Mennonite Church Manitoba annual gathering, the regional church focused on these big questions it is addressing in the coming year.

A time to reminisce

John Friesen, one of the original founders of the Menno Simons Centre, speaks at the farewell celebration for the facility, held on March 14. (Photo by Evan Kreider)

The chapel at the Menno Simons Centre in Vancouver has served as a meeting place for Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship since 1986. (Photo by Evan Kreider)

The Pacific Centre for Discipleship, which owns the Menno Simons Centre in Vancouver, has decided to sell the student building and prepare to build a larger student residence on the edge of the University of B.C. campus. 

'Nunsense' cooks up laughs for Grebel audiences

Heather Agnew, left, Tracy Weber, Vicci Taylor, Sarrah Scott and Alison Enns perform in the ‘Little Sisters of Hoboken’ talent show during a performance of Nunsense, a fundraiser for Grebel’s kitchen and dining room expansion. (Photos by Margaret Gissing)

Vicci Taylor, who played Reverend Mother, teaches the audience how to be a proper nun in a performance of Nunsense. (Photos by Margaret Gissing)

Alison Enns, co-producer of Nunsense, plays Sister Mary Amnesia as she shows off her ventriloquism skills. (Photos by Margaret Gissing)

Alison Enns, left, Vicci Taylor and Tracy Weber cook up laughs in the convent kitchen during a performance of Nunsense. (Photos by Margaret Gissing)

Conrad Grebel University College presented Nunsense, an off-Broadway hit musical comedy, over four days in late February. This comical tale was mounted as a fundraiser for Grebel’s Fill the Table campaign for the college’s kitchen and dining room expansion.

‘In the end, we’re all neighbours’

Will Braun, Canadian Mennonite’s senior writer, left, makes a point to Marnie Klassen during the Face2Face panel discussion at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, on the theme ‘Us and them: How did we become so polarized?’ (CMU photo)

How do people respond to the strong rhetoric of polarization that is gripping the world? How can they listen and talk to people that are different from them? And why does it matter if they do?

MC B.C. explores ‘connections’

Lee Dyck, left, outgoing moderator of MC B.C., reads a final blessing along with Garry Janzen, the regional church’s executive minister, at the conclusion of the 2020 annual general meeting on Feb. 29. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Mennonite Church B.C. welcomed Vietnamese Grace Mennonite Church into fellowship at the regional church’s annual meeting on Feb. 29. Pictured with Kevin Barkowsky, MC B.C.’s church engagement minister, right, are Phuc Nguyen and Lam Son Tran. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

“Connections: God’s church in the 21st century” was the theme when 143 delegates gathered on Feb. 29 for Mennonite Church British Columbia’s annual general meeting at Cedar Valley Mennonite Church.

Rockway celebrates 75 years

Current faculty and staff pose at the photo booth as part of the festivities celebrating the 75th birthday of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Sarah Kathleen Johnson, class of 2003, speaks at the Founder’s Day Chapel on Feb. 9, celebrating the 75th birthday of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate. (Photo by Neveen Antoun)

Jane Schultz-Janzen, left, Patty Klassen and Marcia Shantz, all from the class of 1981, joined the Alumni and Friends Choir that sang at the Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s Founder’s Day Chapel on Feb. 9, celebrating the school’s 75th birthday. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

Pearl Wideman, class of 1956, centre, celebrates with her daughters Louise Wideman, class of 1982, left, and Janice Klassen, class of 1982, right, at the Founder’s Day Chapel marking the 75th birthday of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate. (Photo by Janet Bauman)

There was cake, balloons, confetti and a photo booth with goofy props. There was singing in harmony, and prayers of gratitude and blessing—all of it to celebrate the 75th birthday of a “small school for a big world.” 

75 Candles for 75 Years

David Martin, right, executive minister of MC Eastern Canada, announced a $250,000 grant from the regional church for tuition assistance for students from the regional church’s first-generation Canadian congregations, at the Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s Founder’s Day Chapel, celebrating the 75th birthday of the school. The grant was gratefully received by Ann L. Schultz, left, Rockway’s current principal, on behalf of the school. (Photo by Yuanpei (Robin) Xiang)

Citing a “strong history of pitching in” at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, David Martin, executive minister of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, announced a $250,000 grant to Rockway, with the vision of making the school more accessible for students from the regional church’s first-generation Canadian congregations. 

Workshop explores land, community, reparation

At ‘The cost of colonialism: Joy of jubilee’ workshop in Vancouver last month, a breakout group discusses what jubilee might look like in relation to Indigenous-Settler relations. (Photo by Henry Krause)

An interfaith workshop drew more than 80 registered participants to Peace Church on 52nd on Feb. 7 and 8 to learn about “The cost of colonialism: The joy of jubilee.”

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