After a successful first two rounds of funding, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada is once again offering its Spirit of MDS Fund to Canadian congregations.
Created in response to COVID-19, the Fund provided a total of 81 grants worth $206,900 in 2020-21 to help congregations and other organizations respond to needs in their communities due to the pandemic.
Now MDS Canada is offering grants again, this time making them a regular part of its program.
“When the pandemic hit, we were greatly limited in the ways we could respond due to safety and health concerns and travel restrictions,” says Ross Penner, the director of Canadian operations. “The Spirit of MDS Fund was a way for us to support congregations working on the frontlines of the pandemic disaster, doing things we couldn’t do, in the spirit of MDS.”
When MDS Canada board members saw the success and impact of the Fund during the pandemic, they decided to make it part of the regular program, Penner says. “There are many other ongoing practical needs churches want to meet in their communities, but maybe they lack funds or expertise. A grant from the Fund could be just the thing they need to get some volunteers together, buy materials or other needed items, and help people in their community.”
Grants of up to $5,000 are available and can be used for construction or renovation projects to repair a home or make it more livable, according to Penner.
Other ways grants can be used include:
- Providing food or other needed resources for those in crisis, as a result from the ongoing pandemic.
- Neighbourhood ministry projects.
- Other creative ideas that fit with MDS Canada’s core values of faith in action and caring relationships.
MDS Canada is also open to providing assistance in leadership or volunteers to churches that want to do repair or construction projects, he said.
As in the past, the new round of funding will focus on Mennonite/Anabaptist churches and organizations, with funding available for other churches and church-related groups on a case-by-case basis. Priority for funding will be given to applications that mobilize volunteers.
“Our goal at MDS Canada is to partner with local congregations as they seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities,” says Penner. “They know where the needs are in their communities and how best to meet them. We can be a support to them, and together we can help people recover from disasters both big and small.”
An application for funding for the 2021-22 Spirit of MDS Fund is available online at mds.org.