Amid the restrictions of COVID-19, pastors and families are still finding creative and meaningful ways to mark, grieve and ritualize the deaths of loved ones. But no two funerals are the same, and there are added stressors, frustrations and disappointments.
Assistant manager Alexandra Ketchum, left, and manager Roberta Taylor pose in front of the newly rebranded fair-trade store in Edmonton. The former Ten Thousand Villages store is now called Village Goods. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)
“What would it take to stay open?” asked members of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) Society after the organization announced its closure in early January. Independently owned stores across Canada held emergency meetings to decide what to do next.
As Voices Together nears publication, the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee editorial team has assigned the roughly 750 songs across the table of contents and selected the song that will appear first in the collection.
Prairie Mennonite Fellowship gathered for the first time at an outdoor worship service on June 28. (Photo by Jill Hildebrand)
Pastor Erin Morash speaks to Prairie Mennonite Fellowship at its first gathering. (Photo by Jill Hildebrand)
There is a new church among the farmlands of southwestern Manitoba, but it has more than a hundred years of history.
This spring, Crystal City Mennonite Church and Trinity Mennonite Fellowship in Mather merged to create the new Prairie Mennonite Fellowship congregation.
Mennonite pastors Hieu Do and Hong Thi Nguyen, standing left and right, teach theological foundations in Daklak, Vietnam, in June. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)
Mennonite pastors and leaders share a meal at training conference in Daklak, Vietnam, in June. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)
Worship time at a Mennonite teaching conference in Daklak, Vietnam. Reverend Hong Thi Nguyen is wearing the purple T-shirt. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)
Vietnamese Mennonite pastors, including Hong Thi Nguyen, right, receive bags of rice to distribute to those in need due to COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)
Hong Thi Nguyen, with arms raised; Y Ya, on guitar; and Hieu Do, right, lead worship at a teaching conference in Daklak, Vietnam, in June. (Photo courtesy of Nhien Pham)
In Vietnam it is still uncommon to see female pastors. But the president of the Evangelical Vietnamese Mennonite Church (EVMC) is a woman and also a pastor. Reverend Hong Thi Nguyen is the leader of 40 Mennonite congregations throughout the southern part of Vietnam.
Johise Namwira, a human rights activist and member of Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, takes part in a MennoMedia ‘adaptive church webinar’ addressing racism in the church. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)
Participants in the MennoMedia ‘adaptive church webinar’ addressing racism in the church are pictured from left to right, top row: Dennis R. Edwards, Johise Namwira and Amy Gingerich; middle row: Chantelle Todman, Jerrell Williams and Leah Fulton; and bottom: Delonte Gholston. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)
Acknowledging that “the church has been awakened and reawakened to racial injustice in our midst after the death of George Floyd,” MennoMedia, an agency of Mennonite Church Canada and MC U.S.A., dedicated one of its ‘adaptive church webinars’ to addressing racism in churches.
Northgate Anabaptist Fellowship members meet in their church building on the second Sunday of Lent, shortly before the pandemic forced them to worship from home. Ernie and Eileen Klassen, facing the front of the church, listen as Wayne Plenert leads worship, with Delores Plenert at the piano. (Photo by Esther Klassen)
With eight members, Northgate Anabaptist Fellowship of Dawson Creek is the smallest congregation in Mennonite Church British Columbia. It is also the most remote, located about 1,880 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, near the Alberta border.
Like many rural congregations, Pleasant Point Mennonite Church isn’t as large as it once was. But, although small in number, the church enjoys a rich and interesting congregational life.
Pleasant Point also has an intriguing history. It’s the only Mennonite Church Saskatchewan congregation with a building that boasts a steeple and a church bell.
Riverton (Man.) Fellowship Circle decided on June 24 to close its doors, passing a motion to dissolve the church corporation and its assets.
Doug Johnson Hatlem, former co-pastor at Erb Street Mennonite Church, Waterloo, Ont., believes Mennonite Church Eastern Canada ‘persistently mishandled’ its investigation into Wilmer Martin. (Photo courtesy of Doug Johnson Hatlem)
Mennonite Church Eastern Canada terminated Waterloo resident Wilmer Martin’s ministerial credentials last month, citing ministerial misconduct and ministerial sexual misconduct. (Facebook photo)
Mennonite Church Eastern Canada conducted its investigation fairly and in good faith, says David Martin, the regional church’s executive minister. (MC Eastern Canada photo)
Mennonite Church Eastern Canada should have taken action against Wilmer Martin at least two years ago, says one of the people responsible for bringing complaints against him to the regional church.
At 7:30 on Monday mornings, members of Mennonite Church Alberta wake up to pray together on Zoom.
Sara Wenger Shenk, president emerita of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, is one of four plenary speakers at Mennonite Church Canada’s virtual study conference, ‘Table talk: Does the church have legs?’ on Oct. 24. She will speak on the nature and identity of the church. (Photo by Gerald Shenk)
How has COVID-19 affected you and your community?
Mennonite Educational Institute in Abbotsford, B.C. plans a Stage 1 reopening of school in September for the 2020-21 academic year.
The Province of B.C. defines Stage 1 as a regular school opening with a 100 percent density target for students and five days per week of Kindergarten to Grade 12 in-class instruction.
“Worship is the beating heart of the Christian church,” says Carol Penner, who teaches practical theology at Conrad Grebel University College and the University of Waterloo.
Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) supporters, whose efforts to create business solutions to poverty, enjoy getting together. In normal years, groups across North America have regular meetings throughout the year, and annual barbecues in the summer to raise funds for MEDA projects.
As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mennonite community in Kudus, Central Java, Indonesia, joins hands and works with the local government to mitigate the risk and manage the spread of cases in the city of more than 800,000 residents.
Church discernment and decision-making can be challenging at the best of times. Making critical decisions about the purchase of property in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is monumental.
Twenty Mennonite Church Canada congregations are among the first 40 churches that have received grants from the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada Spirit of MDS Fund.
The fund was created by MDS Canada in April to help Canadian churches respond to people in their communities facing hardship due to COVID-19.
Although precise data does not exist, Die Mennonitische Post reports numerous presumed COVID-19-related deaths on several Mennonite colonies in Bolivia. Kennert Giesbrecht, the Post’s editor, who is highly regarded among colony Mennonites in Latin America, is in regular contact with people on many colonies.
Cedric Martin, artistic producer and actor for Theatre of the Beat, records his part in Yellow Bellies the Audio Drama in his closet. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)
Johnny Wideman, playwright, actor and co-founder of Theatre of the Beat, records his part in Yellow Bellies the Audio Drama from his home. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)
The cast of Yellow Bellies the Audio Drama records altogether through a Zoom call. Pictured from left to right, top row: actor Johnny Wideman, actor Cedric Martin and musician Joe McLellan; and bottom row: actor Kimberlee Walker and director Sukhpreet Sangha. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)
The historical photo, left, that inspired the visual, right, for Yellow Bellies, the original play produced as live theatre and now as an audio drama by Theatre of the Beat. (Photo courtesy of Theatre of the Beat)
Cedric Martin, artistic producer of Theatre of the Beat, knows that live theatre “will be one of the last gatherings to be allowed again” as businesses reopen in the shadow of COVID-19. That reality forced the staff of the Canadian touring company to get creative.
A group of Mennonite young adults from Alberta has been gathering on Zoom for six Sundays in a row to learn about engaging with “the other.” Topics included “Engaging the religious other,” with a focus on Islam, and “Engaging the culturally other,” with a focus on connecting with people from other races and cultures, and exploring cross-cultural
Members of Sherbrooke Mennonite in Vancouver met for an outdoor worship service on July 5. They followed provincial protocols by encouraging masks and discouraging strong singing, and with worship leaders behind plexiglass. The parking lot location allowed sensitive members to stay in cars. (Photo by Garry Janzen)
With most churches remaining closed four months into the pandemic, some in Mennonite Church British Columbia are finding innovative ways to worship together—with limitations.
On July 5, members of Sherbrooke Mennonite Church in Vancouver held an outdoor service in the church parking lot, their first physical gathering since March.
Survivors of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., have returned to scratch messages into the bricks. There are hundreds at the back of the building where former students have left their marks, like this one from Franke, who served time at the school—‘11 years too many.’ (Photo by John Longhurst)
In the inaugural awards ceremony of the new Canadian Christian Communicators Association (CCCA), Canadian Mennonite received 12 awards for writing, photography, design and original art for work published in 2019.
Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church members meet in Brian and Delilah Roth’s farm shop to sort and crush bottles donated through their bottle drive. Pictured from left are Brenda Isaak, Brooklyn Isaak, Denise Epp, Jeanette Hanson, Todd Hanson, Lloyd Schmidt and Cheryl Schmidt. (Photo by Delilah Roth)
Four pick-up trucks laden with bottles and other refundable items prepare to leave the Roth farm for the recycling depot in Rosthern, Sask. (Photo by Delilah Roth)
Every Saturday in May, Rosthern Mennonite Church members drove the streets of Rosthern, picking up bottles and other refundable beverage containers.
Joyce Ngumbao and her husband Pius Kisumo stand in a corn and bean field on their farm in Kwa Kavisi, Kenya, that is not planted using conservation agriculture techniques, but was prepared using conventional methods of plowing and scattering seed. These crops are stunted and not growing well. When they can afford to hire help, they want to plant this field with conservation agriculture methods too. (Photo by Matthew Lester)
The water pump at MCC partner Sembrandopaz’s experimental farm just outside of Sincelejo, Colombia. The Montes de María region of Colombia is suffering a shortage of water due to a combination of factors, including aggressive land clearing and droughts worsened by climate change, as well as poor infrastructure. The experimental farm is home to one of the only functional water pumps in the surrounding area, and throughout the day local residents come to the farm to fill up containers. (MCC photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)
The mandate of a new Mennonite World Conference (MWC) creation care task force states that, “MWC is a global communion of Anabaptist churches that are together facing the climate crisis.” It then asks: “What does it mean to follow Jesus into this crisis?”
The task force is to: