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.
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.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, stories poured in from Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member churches about job losses and hunger in their congregations and communities due to shutdowns. MWC began collecting funds to respond to pandemic-related needs within and through the household of faith.
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.
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.
Trisha Robinson, left, executive director of the Wilmot Family Resource Centre, New Hamburg, Ont., stands next to Santa and Mrs. Claus outside Steinmann Mennonite Church in Baden, where 137 free curbside Christmas dinners were distributed. At least 10 community churches joined in the effort to bring some Christmas cheer to people in the community who were alone for Christmas. (The Wilmot Post photo by Nigel Gordijk)
On Christmas Day, 137 free turkey dinners were served up for people who needed some Christmas cheer in the Wilmot and Wellesley townships of Waterloo Region.
With a message of “Love your neighbour as yourself,” a Mennonite Church B.C. pastor reached a wide audience on the radio with a message about in-person church gatherings.
Jack Skellington, the main character in the 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas, asks some great questions. (Photo by Christin Noelle/Unsplash)
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)
A movie seemingly made for Christmas 2020 appeared almost 30 years ago—a creepy little stop-motion musical, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Was it a Christmas movie, a Halloween movie, or both? This year, I feel like I’m trying to prepare for Christmas in a rather ghastly Halloween world.
If you’re missing the songs you are used to singing and hearing in church at this time of year, Canadian Mennonite has just the thing for you.
Let me tell you a story. A couple of years ago, our church council did some brainstorming around how to begin reaching out to our neighbours. Because our church is located in a rural community, the possibilities are limited and come with significant hurdles.
Erika Pappas of Edmonton Mennonite Church is amazed at what can be done with a few dollars at the Dollar Store. (Photo by Erika Pappas)
Brenda Tiessen-Wiens and Trevor Wiens display their very first Advent wreath so they can participate in community worship. (Photo by Brenda Tiessen-Wiens)
Kate and Bob Janzen create an Advent wreath from barn boards and barbed wire. (Photo by Kate Janzen)
Hanna Martens displays her living wreath made from moss, pinecones and succulents from the forest. (Photo by Hanna Martens)
Carole Neufeldt creates an Advent wreath using items from around the house. (Photo by Carole Neufeldt)
An Advent wreath created by Rose Goertzen for the altar at Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, Alta. (Photo by Anna-Lisa Salo)
Like most of the country, Alberta is experiencing, its second wave of novel coronavirus. As of early December, as many as 1,800 Albertans were contracting COVID-19 every day. With the Christmas season approaching, every church had to look at past traditions and ask whether to try to alter them in some way or to cancel activities altogether.
“What a joy it is for the brothers and sisters [of the Bateke Plateau] to feel themselves a part of the larger Mennonite family,” says Reverend Seraphin Kutumbana of Communauté Mennonite au Congo, a Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member church.
On Nov. 30, public health officials in the Waterloo Region of Ontario issued an order to close all Old Order, Markham, Old Colony (Low German speaking) and David Martin Mennonite churches and schools due to significant community spread of COVID-19 in the northern portions of Wellesley and Woolwich townships. More than 200 new cases of the virus were confirmed in community members in the previous three weeks, according to a CBC news report on Dec. 4. The order, issued by Dr.
(Photo by Greyson Joralemon/Unsplash)
“An urgent reality … a state of public health emergency.” This is how our premier, Jason Kenney, described our situation in Alberta last week because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is probably not news to anyone that the number of new cases in Alberta has continued to rise dramatically over the last couple weeks. Hospitals are filling up with COVID-19 patients and intensive care units are nearly at full capacity. Many of us have at least been indirectly affected now and perhaps we even know one of the many beloved people who have died due to complications of the virus.
Milo Penner, 4, looks out the window as a candle lit by his father, Kyle Penner, burns in support of Steinbach's healthcare workers, patients and their families. (Photo by Kyle Penner)
Kyle Penner, a pastor at Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach, Man., has been lighting candles every evening since mid-November in prayer and solidarity with his community's healthcare workers, patients and their families. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Penner)
A single flame flickered into existence in the window of a home in Steinbach, and now throughout the city—and across the country—candles send warmth to a hurting community.
Mennonite Church Eastern Canada staffers Fanosie Legesse (left) and Norm Dyck, pictured last year by the sign in front of the Meserete Kristos Church in Mekelle. Mekelle is the capital city of the Tigray region, which is at the centre of the war in Ethiopia. (Photos courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)
Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) held a nationwide fasting and prayer for peace on Nov. 16.
'I headed out the door for a beautiful snowy 10 km. run which ended with building a snowman—a little bit of play amidst the difficulty of this time.' (Photos by Matthew Isert Bender)
A few weeks ago, I received a package in the mail from the Boston Athletic Association for finishers of the Boston Marathon.
It was exciting to receive the package and yet it was also quite sad.
Wenger Shenk, plenary speaker for MC Canada’s virtual ‘Table talk’ study conference, on Oct. 25, addresses the question ‘Why church?’ in one of two talks she gave. (Screenshots by Janet Bauman)
Kim Penner hosted and helped plan the inaugural MC Canada virtual ‘Table talk’ study conference on Oct. 25. (Screenshots by Janet Bauman)
A feast of metaphors was on the menu for Mennonite Church Canada’s inaugural study conference on the character and mission of the church and the role of worship. “Table talk: Does the church still have legs?” was originally planned as an in-person gathering, but the Oct. 25 event was moved online because of pandemic gathering restrictions.
The pandemic this year has turned the master of theological study (MTS) program’s teaching model on its head.
Mary Anne Neufeld of Vineland, Ont. teaches Kindergarten in the public school system and was surprised at the beginning of the school year that 92 percent of students returned to the classroom instead of taking online classes. This was a tough decision for many parents.
“I have seen entire families in the garbage dumps looking to quench their hunger. I have also watched with sadness as they return the elderly from the hospitals because there are no possibilities to attend them, nor medicines to supply them,” said Erwin Francisco Mirabal González, a Mennonite pastor in Venezuela.
The Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada Spirit of MDS Fund is issuing a second call for applications from churches in Canada.
Members of Low German-speaking Mennonite communities in southwestern Ontario have experienced public discrimination recently because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in their population. Incidents include negative online comments, cancelled playdates with children in the Low German community, and aggressive verbal attacks at the grocery store.
The past few months have awakened us to our fragility as individuals, communities and nation states. We’ve observed the fragility of our health-care system, food-supply chain, economies, global trade, international relations, institutional accountability. It seems that everything in our world is fragile, including ourselves.
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.