COVID-19

Community outreach successful with summer VBS

Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Surrey, B.C., hosted a Vacation Bible School program in August, with half the children attending coming from the community. (Living Hope Christian Fellowship photo)

In a summer when many public activities, including church services, were curtailed, Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Surrey, B.C., hosted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program from Aug. 9 to 13. Last year, Living Hope’s VBS had only 10 children attending in person, with seven online. By contrast, this year 38 children came, all in person.

Global Anabaptist family encouraged to donate to vaccination efforts

Mennonite World Conference is calling on its members to donate to UNICEF’s campaign to provide coronavirus vaccinations around the world. (Photo: UN/Nick Sells)

Tanzania, home to 66, 744 baptized members of Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania, less than one percent of the population has received vaccination protection against COVID-19. 

Mennonite World Conference is calling on its members around the world to love their neighbours by donating to UNICEF’s campaign to share coronavirus vaccinations around the world.  

What is the loving thing to do?

Meheret Evangelical Church in Kitchener, Ont., looks normal from the outside. As the church has now reopened, it has adapted to the pandemic and has made changes along the way. (Photo by Yeabsera Agonfer)

There is no question that COVID-19 has been disruptive. We, like the Israelites, found ourselves wandering in the wilderness, anxious to get back to normal.

We have realized that  “normal” will not happen anytime soon so, like the Israelites, we made our home in this new place, building houses (carving out offices) and planting gardens (noticing and practising what is life-giving).

Rockway community fosters safe and healthy learning spaces

‘Austin’ stands ready to filter the air in a classroom at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont., and keep it circulating. Rockway supporters donated enough funds to purchase all the ‘Austins’ the school needs for September. (Rockway Mennonite Collegiate photo)

In April, prior to Ontario schools returning to online learning, two Rockway Mennonite Collegiate families set out to make the learning spaces in the school safer for students. They introduced “Austin,” a HEPA-air-filtration system that improves air circulation and quality in indoor spaces.

Will COVID-19 create lasting divisions in churches?

Kyle Penner, assistant pastor of Grace Mennonite in Steinbach, Man., is also the Mennonite poster boy for vaccinations in the province. Literally. Penner is on the advisory committee for Protect MB, the provincial government’s COVID-19 outreach initiative.

The correlation is unavoidable. Some of the areas with the lowest vaccination rates in Canada are areas inhabited by lots of Mennonites.

The Globe and Mail reported on vaccination resistance in the Aylmer area of Ontario, with special mention of Mennonites.

Goshen alumni contribute to Pfizer vaccine efforts

A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot. (Photo by Steven Cornfield/Unsplash)

Two alumni from Indiana’s Goshen College played important roles in the development of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19. Robert Lerch, Ph.D., head of lab and site management and business operations at pharmaceutical company Pfizer, and Mark Wittrig, senior director of quality assurance at Pfizer, both graduated from the college in 1984.

Is church online for good?

In its third live-streamed pandemic church service, Comunidad Evangélica Menonita of Barcelona, Spain, celebrates Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday in 2021. Joshua Garber records Estrella Norales, left, and Aïdeis Martín Mallol as they observe social-distancing guidelines while reading the liturgy. (Photo by Alfred Lozano Aran)

“We’re all going through the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat. Context is everything.”

These words, spoken by a North American pastor, address the divergent responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Many congregations in Canada and the United States continue to experience restrictions on in-person meetings, while others have had the freedom to safely gather again.

T-shirts encourage Mennos to get vaccinated

Ryan Polinsky holds up one of the T-shirts he designed in support of Mennonites getting vaccinated against COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Polinsky)

When Ryan Polinsky designed T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Menno & Vaccinated” at the beginning of June, he intended to sell only a few to his family. He has since sold around 50 shirts, plus other merchandise like mugs, buttons and hats. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the Manitoba Vaccine Implementation Task Force, even highlighted the shirts in a provincial press conference.

False false prophets

(Image by Carlos Lincoln/Pixabay)

Are you ever afraid to say something because it might not be the popular opinion? Do you struggle to muster the courage to speak out within your congregation because you’re worried you’ll offend someone’s well-intentioned but misinformed idea?

Pandemic forces couples to reassess wedding plans

Despite the pandemic, Samih Saltah and Katherine Kandalaft managed to plan a special wedding in 2020. (Photo courtesy of the bridal couple)

A masked videographer captures the wedding ceremony of Katherine Kandalaft and Samih Saltah last Oct. 12, reflecting the new reality during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of the bridal couple)

With their parents as witnesses, Raymond and Stephanie are united in marriage by Pastor Tim Kuepfer at Chinatown Peace Church on March 28. (Photo courtesy of the bridal couple)

Newlyweds Maxwell and Nicole (Redekop) Stow celebrate outside their wedding venue on April 10. (Photo courtesy of the bridal couple)

The bride and groom may have hoped for a traditional church wedding with an entourage of attendants, surrounded by all their friends and extended family, followed by a fabulous catered wedding dinner. What they ended up with might have been a scaled-down gathering of fewer than a dozen people and a simple backyard meal with everyone wearing masks, or even a drive-by, no-contact reception.

Public-health nurse postpones retirement to work in northern Ontario

Lily Hiebert Rempel inside the nurses station at Sandy Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario, where she worked as a public-health nurse on three different occasions during the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Lily Hiebert Rempel)

The nurses station at Sandy Lake First Nation, where Lily Hiebert Rempel worked during her three, four-week rotations as a public health nurse in the community. (Photo courtesy of Lily Hiebert Rempel)

The nurses residence at Sandy Lake First Nation, where Lily Hiebert Rempel and other nurses stayed during their four-week rotations in the community doing public-health work. (Photo courtesy of Lily Hiebert Rempel)

Lily Hiebert Rempel took a chartered flight with other health-care workers bound for northern Ontario communities. (Photo courtesy of Lily Hiebert Rempel)

After more than 40 years as a nurse, Lily Hiebert Rempel was starting to ease into retirement. That is when COVID-19 hit, and the health-care system needed more nurses, not fewer. She was not prepared to go into full-time critical care nursing but, with her public-health experience, she did have much to offer.

Hellos and goodbyes

(Photo by Chris Montgomery/Unsplash)

At the end of a video conferencing call, have you found yourself waving energetically at the screen? It might seem strange to make a goodbye gesture toward a computer, but something tells us that it’s not right to simply make those faces disappear by clicking a button labeled “Leave meeting.”

The Gourmet Girls

The main course of a meal made by ‘The Gourmet Girls.’ (Photo by Daunine Rachert)

Some of ‘The Gourmet Girls’ meet in the Jeanette Thiessen’s backyard to celebrate Daunine Rachert’s birthday on Oct. 10, 2020. Pictured from left to right: guest Marjorie Kornelsen, Charlene Delcourt, Elaine Hovey and Daunine Rachert. (Photo by Jeanette Thiessen)

‘The Gourmet Girls’ enjoy prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. Pictured clockwise from top left: Daunine Rachert, guest Joanne De Jong, Marlene Nelson, Elaine Hovey, Charlene Delcourt, Jeanette Thiessen. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

A screenshot of ‘The Gourmet Girls,’ from left to right, top row: Daunine Rachert and Marlene Nelson; middle row: Jeanette Thiessen and Elaine Hovey; and bottom row: Charlene Delcourt. (Photo courtesy of Jeanette Thiessen)

Pear Tarte Tatin prepared by Elaine Hovey for ‘The Gourmet Girls.’ (Photo by Daunine Rachert)

Imagine if you could eat at a five-star restaurant every Saturday night, even during COVID-19. That’s what has been happening in one neighbourhood in Calgary since May 2020.

Camp Valaqua, then and now

(Photo courtesy of Levi Klassen)

In March, my friend and I were fulfilling our duty of cleaning out the Canadian Mennonite University Student Council room when we came across a filing cabinet of school newspapers from the 1960s. Being rather loosely committed to our cleaning assignment, we soon found ourselves leafing through submissions sent in by students during the summer, and lo and behold, I came across a letter written by someone working at Camp Valaqua (Water Valley, Alta.).

‘Making plans, but holding them lightly’

Masks and distanced desks are two of the changes students at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., have had to adjust to this past year. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

As the academic year draws to a close, students and staff at Columbia Bible College are reflecting on how the college has successfully navigated offering in-person learning despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. These have included reduced class sizes, mask fatigue, teaching behind plexiglass, and keeping resident and commuter students apart.

Helping ‘active faith’ across Canada

Pastor Gerald Neufeld (back row in the green long-sleeved shirt) and some of the members of the Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship in Surrey, B.C. (Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship website photo)

One month after its launch on Feb. 1, the 2021 Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada Spirit of MDS Fund approved $54,900 in grants for 24 Canadian congregations and church-related organizations.

MWC joins ecumenical week of prayer one year into COVID-19 pandemic

A year after the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, Mennonite World Conference is joining the World Council of Churches and other Christians in a week of prayer March 22-27. The week will invite a time of prayer and reflection on both the lament and the hope expressed and experienced across the world during what has been a year of unprecedented suffering, but also one when churches have worked together in ever new ways to adapt, respond and accompany communities through mental, physical, economical, spiritual, and environmental crises.

Mennonite leaders weigh in on vaccination

Stephen Kriss, executive minister of the Mosaic Mennonite Conference in the United States, poses for a selfie after getting his COVID-19 vaccination in January. (Photo: Stephen Kriss)

Should Mennonite Church Canada leaders promote vaccines during this public health emergency?

That question arose in January when Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, met with over 1,300 Canadian faith leaders, including from MC Canada, to encourage them to promote vaccines to their members.

Church members enjoy ‘snail mail’ during pandemic

Angelika Dawson of Abbotsford, B.C., has been corresponding by mail with some members of her church during the pandemic. She is surrounded by some of the many cards and letters she has received. (Photo courtesy of Angelika Dawson)

In this time of isolation, some members of Abbotsford’s Emmanuel Mennonite Church are discovering the delights of a relationship based on the old-fashioned medium of handwritten letters.

‘We had a huge spike’

A meal at Grovenland Farm near Lanigan, Sask. (Photo courtesy of Grovenland)

Bacon and sausage from Grovenland Farm near Lanigan, Sask. (Photo courtesy of Grovenland)

When COVID-19 struck last March, farmers who sell food directly to customers saw a rush on their products.

“It seemed like people were just googling farms to go right to the source,” said Sarah Martin-Mills of Growing Hope Farm in Cambridge, Ont.

“We had a huge spike,” said Ben Martens Bartel of Grovenland Farm near Lanigan, Sask.

Transcending borders

Francine Mukoko, standing at right, a public health graduate and the first university graduate from the Communauté Mennonite au Congo community in Bateke, presents public-health advice in Teke, the local language. (Photo courtesy of Seraphin Kutumbana)

Congregations across Mennonite Church Canada have matched a $50,000 donation made by the nationwide church to a COVID-19 relief fund operated by Mennonite World Conference (MWC).

The fund, which is part of MWC’s Global Church Sharing Fund, helps MWC-member churches struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hope in a bleak midwinter

'Where do we find hope in this bleak midwinter?' (Image by Jörg Vieli/Pixabay)

Canadians are struggling with the heaviness of this winter. The prospect of several more months with physical gathering restrictions is as depressing as the grey skies of southern Ontario in February. As a society, we have started to squabble, point fingers and shift blame.

Learning together, apart

(Photo by Dylan Ferreira/Unsplash)

Whether you call it Sunday school, faith formation or Christian education, one aspect of a congregation’s life together is how we nurture faith in people of all ages. Last spring, with the coming of the COVID-19 restrictions, many churches saw drastic changes in their faith education programs. 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - COVID-19