COVID-19 pandemic

Churches work together to serve curbside Christmas dinner

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.

The weirdness of Christmas 2020

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.  

‘Why don’t we have a food-truck night?’

Only God could have directed a random couple from B.C. to set up a food truck between two sloughs in the middle of rural Alberta, just a couple of kilometres away from the church. (Photo by Coreen Froese)

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.

COVID creativity: Cards, buns and wreaths

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 at Trinity Mennonite Church in DeWinton, Alta. (Photo by Laura Wiebe)

An Advent wreath created by Rose Goertzen for the altar at Bergthal Mennonite Church in Didsbury, Alta. (Photo by Anna-Lisa Salo)

Karen Mierau and LaVerna Elliot have been best friends for more than 10 years and they live a 10-minute walk apart. Having created a pandemic bubble, they collaborated on their Advent wreath.

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. 

Pandemic fund targets inequalities in global church

Francine Mukoko, 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)

“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.

COVID-19 cases rise among Mennonites in Waterloo Region

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.

Making sense of the bleakness

(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.

Candles of care for health-care workers

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)

Kyle Penner, associate pastor of Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach, Man., has been lighting candles for weeks, in prayer and solidarity with health-care workers, patients and their families fighting COVID-19. (Photo from Kyle Penner’s Facebook page)

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.

MC Canada calls for prayer for Ethiopia and Eritrea

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.

Grief and a snowman

'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.


'It was exciting to receive the package and yet it was also quite sad.'

Feast of metaphors served at ‘Table talk’ conference 

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.

Pandemic offers new opportunities for students

Online classes have changed the way the master of theological program operates at Conrad Grebel University College. With the rise in enrolment and interest in the program, there may be lasting online opportunities, according to program director Jeremy Bergen. (Photo by Christin Hume/Unsplash)

The pandemic this year has turned the master of theological study (MTS) program’s teaching model on its head.

COVID-19 global response fund helps more Global South churches

The Mennonite church in Venezuela celebrates Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (Mennonite World Conference photo)

“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.

Low German community in southwestern Ontario experiences persecution

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. 

Antifragile church

(Photo by Andrew Seaman/Unsplash)

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. 

Marking end-of-life rituals during the pandemic

An outdoor, physically distant, drive-by visitation was held in the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church parking lot for a senior member of the congregation who died this summer. (Photo by Mark Diller Harder)

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. 

Church seeks to boost ‘helping fund’ for people affected by pandemic

Fiona Brown, Leamington United Mennonite Church’s treasurer, and Hugo Tiessen, finance committee chair, have launched an initiative to boost the church’s Oak Street Helps Fund by $50,000 in light of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Linda Tiessen)

Windsor-Essex County in southwestern Ontario has drawn a plethora of attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to ongoing outbreaks and high occurrences of infections in specific sectors, the virus is still taking quite a toll in the region, despite the efforts of many.

Prayer ‘keeps us going’

Hotel staff wear protective equipment to distribute lunches to hospital workers in quarantine. (Photo by Tris Suyitno)

As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mennonite community in Kudus, Central Java, Indonesia, joins hands and works with the local government to mitigate the risk and manage the spread of cases in the city of more than 800,000 residents.

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