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.
“MDS normally responds to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires and earthquakes,” says Ross Penner, director of operations for MDS Canada. “But the pandemic is a disaster for many people in Canada. Since we aren’t able to respond in the usual way, we want to do it through local congregations that are on the front lines of responding to needs.”
By province, the 20 churches are:
- Peace Church on 52nd in Vancouver will use the funds to help a homeless man who lives on the church property buy a new sleeping bag and sleeping mat, and to provide rent assistance for a recently arrived couple who have lost employment, and for grocery cards and food for local people in need.
- Sherbrooke Mennonite Church in Vancouver will use the funds to provide refugees served by the church with food, personal hygiene items and household goods.
- Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church in Abbotsford will use the funds to stay connected with seniors in the congregation. This will include upgrading its recording equipment and technology, and purchasing other supplies.
- Eden Mennonite Church in Chilliwack will use the funds to help low-income seniors get groceries, to provide lunches for children in the local school system, and to help families with young children get things like diapers and formula.
- Edmonton South Sudanese Mennonite Church will use the funds to help congregants affected by the pandemic. This includes those who have been laid off and a disabled person struggling to make ends meet during this time.
- First Mennonite Church in Edmonton will use the funds to help members access worship services. This would include buying phone cards for long-distance charges for those without internet access.
- Rosthern Mennonite Church will use the funds to provide seniors in a housing complex operated by Mennonite Nursing Homes with iPads so they can communicate visually with family members during this time of lockdown. They will also use the devices to participate in online worship services.
- Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg will use the funds to provide an honorarium for an unemployed student who will fill a need for increased technology services, as the church has moved to an online format for its worship services.
- Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg will use the funds to provide cleaning supplies and masks for individuals and families served by its Coffee and Conversation drop-in and Home Plate food-bank programs.
- Windsor Mennonite Fellowship will use the grant for its benevolent fund.
- Westview Christian Fellowship in St. Catharines, will use the funds to replenish its food pantry with items like bread, milk and eggs in its service to low-income people in the community.
- First Mennonite Church in Kitchener will use the funds for rent assistance for a family that lost employment due to the pandemic.
- Waterloo-Kitchener Mennonite Church in Waterloo will use the funds to help the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support retrofit its office and guest house to allow for physical-distancing measures.
- Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church will use the funds to buy personal protective equipment for ministries helping people who are homeless and poor, along with those who serve in long-term-care facilities.
- Toronto Mennonite New Life Church will use the funds to pay its building insurance. Since the pandemic started, the small congregation of newcomers and refugees has been unable to meet and hold offerings, with the result it had to borrow money. The grant will enable it to pay back the loan.
- Connect City in Toronto will use the funds for masks and other protective gear for food distribution, and to upgrade its Zoom account so it can better reach and serve refugees and others in their community, which includes offering a virtual summer camp for children.
- The Warden Underground Church in Scarborough will use the funds to set up a podcasting studio so the youth it serves can engage with each other during lockdown by creating podcasts about issues of concern to them and the community.
- Goshen Mennonite Church in Ottawa, which worships in Swahili, will use its grant to assist members of the congregation impacted by the pandemic who need help with food, rent and other assistance.
- Hochma Mennonite Church in Montreal will use the funds to buy a TV for its shelter ministry, and for food, coffee and furniture.
- Centre Bethésda Mennonite de Quebec in Quebec City will use the funds to provide food for newcomers and refugees facing challenges due to COVID-19.