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:
The Anglican-Mennonite Dialogue scrapped plans for a meeting at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., this spring, due to pandemic restrictions but met electronically on May 29 and 30.
Claire Ewert Fisher, interim pastor of Rosthern Mennonite Church, speaks during MC Saskatchewan’s virtual town-hall meeting, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.” (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)
Sharon Schultz maintains that the quality that should characterize the church of the future is hope. Speaking during a local power outage, her words seemed to offer a light in the darkness during MC Saskatchewan’s virtual town-hall meeting, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.” (Screenshot by Donna Schulz)
“We have to embrace the disequilibrium we feel right now and let it teach us what it needs to teach us,” said Claire Ewert Fisher, interim pastor of Rosthern Mennonite Church, speaking at Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s virtual town hall event, “Dreaming church beyond pandemic.”
Sierra Janzen, two-year-old granddaughter of Abe Janzen, former executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Alberta, is swinging for 100 minutes to raise money for this year’s Go!100 challenge (Photo by Abe Janzen)
Deb Kirkpatrick from Edmonton First Mennonite Church is praying 100 times through prayer labyrinths to raise money for MCC’s Go!100 challenge. On this day she is praying with a hand-held clay labyrinth. (Photo by Deb Kirkpartrick)
One hundred homemade tarts were made by 12-year-old Kai Willms from Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary to raise money for MCC’s Go! 100 challenge. (Photo by Deanna Willms)
The Harder family in High Level, Alta., commit to collectively “move” 100 kilometres by biking, hiking, walking and skateboarding before the end of June to raise money for MCC’s Go!100 challenge. Pictured from left to right: Khyrin, Tyrell and Josiah. (Photo by Ashley Harder)
No soup and pie fundraiser in Rosemary. No Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta relief sale in Sherwood Park. No golf fundraisers with barbecued lunches.
Mennonite Church Saskatchewan is offering Sunday school for children via Zoom. Josh and Cindy Wallace started hosting the half-hour sessions at the end of May.
So far, about eight families, with children ranging from 3 to 10 years of age, have participated. They represent four or five congregations.
Mennonite schools are facing the challenge of operating during a pandemic, both now and into the fall, while staying true to their mission to deliver a faith-based, holistic program.
Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many changes and challenges for Grebel. While construction on the kitchen and dining room expansion continues, many other activities have been curtailed or adjusted.
When international travel was banned in March of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Niagara fruit farmers were in shock.
“I think they’re going to grieve for a while,” says Lois Siemens of Superb Mennonite Church, which held its final worship service on May 31.
The church building, located 212 kilometres west of Saskatoon near Kerrobert, was home to a small but thriving congregation for more than 75 years. It took its name from the hamlet of Superb, where 10 Mennonite families settled in 1927.
Wendell Manuzon, a Grade 10 student at RJC High School, picks up trash in his neighbourhood as part of his ALSO experience. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)
Josie Hogan, left, a Grade 10 student at RJC High School, delivers cookies to her neighbour’s doorstep as part of her ALSO experience. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)
Tianna Bartsch, a Grade 11 student at RJC High School, makes her world more beautiful by painting her living room window as part of the school’s ALSO Week activities. (Photo courtesy of Rosthern Junior College)
For many students at Rosthern Junior College (RJC High School), ALSO Week is one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of their school year.
ALSO stands for Alternative Learning and Service Opportunities. Each spring during ALSO Week, students leave campus for a variety of destinations to learn about and serve vulnerable people in those communities.
After more than two months of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the 10 Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) British Columbia thrift shops were reopening with limited hours by the end of May.
Camp Squeah of Hope, B.C. has cancelled its 2020 camping season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a May 15 statement, camp director Rob Tiessen wrote, “In order to best ensure the health of our campers and staff, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 summer camp session. This applies to all day and overnight camp programs, including Family Camp.”
The original diaries of Johannes D. Dyck (1826-1898) tell, among other things, the stories of his adventures in America, including an escape from an ambush during the California Gold Rush. (Photo by Conrad Stoesz)
A Mennonite man escapes an ambush during the California Gold Rush because he had a fast horse. We know his story because he left behind a set of diaries.
When Bev Suderman-Gladwell was asked by a physician friend to “leverage her Mennonite connections,” to respond to a time-sensitive need, she had no way of knowing an “extraordinary project” would grow out of that request.
Sami and Amina (real names withheld for security purposes) were displaced from their home in Aleppo, Syria. This photo was taken in February 2018 in the home where the family of seven lives in Breike, in the Qalamoun valley. They receive monthly food packages from MCC through local partners. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)
A century ago, bread was the beginning of the work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Relief kitchens in Ukraine (then southern Russia) fed families who had been displaced and were starving. Neighbours from around the world provided loaves of wholesome dark bread.
Three times a week, Arnie Nickel leads a 45-minute exercise session for seniors on Zoom, a virtual-meeting app. Participants are enthusiastic and their numbers are growing.
Johann E. Funk took the cover photo for Mennonite Village Photography: Views from Manitoba 1890–1940 in 1903.
Photographer Peter H. Klippenstein took this portrait in the 1910s. Subject unknown. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)
Peter H. Klippenstein took this photo of the Altbergthal village road in the 1930s. Subjects unknown. (Mennonite Heritage Archives photo)
Hundred-year-old images on fragile glass negatives, discovered in a dusty barn in the heritage village of Neubergthal, Man., open a window to Mennonite life in Manitoba in the early 20th century.