COVID-19 pandemic

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.

Onscreen adventures

Still from the documentary Honeyland, directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov. (Photo courtesy of NEON)

This past year, I followed a honey gatherer up Macedonian hills, watched a recording session with a legendary jazz singer, witnessed the political turmoil within Denmark’s parliament, and traveled throughout Canada to the strains of Handel’s music. All these adventures happened while I lounged on the living room sofa.

On being a musician during COVID-19

Matthew Boutda conducts the choir at Leaside United Church’s hymn festival in June 2019. (Photo by Murray Fenner)

Matthew Boutda playing the organ. (Photo by Matthew Boutda)

Matthew Boutda

For some musicians during COVID-19, the landscape of music making, performance and choir conducting transformed into environments for community resilience. As a recent graduate from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto, with a master of sacred music degree, Matthew Boutda reveals the ways musicians are conductors of human connectedness.

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.

After the pandemic, churches look to move forward

The Flourishing Congregations Institute’s Joel Thiessen, holding the microphone speaks at a May 2019 seminar at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., on the vital role families have in influencing faith. (2019 Canadian Mennonite file photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Congregations will resume some sort of gathering after the major concerns about COVID-19 are minimized and regulations are relaxed. Talk of getting “back to normal” is common. What will the new normal look like?

Small size makes Mennonite school adaptable in COVID-19 reality

A community highlight of the year came with a Taskmaster event. The students were told to dress in school colours, and they entered the festive auditorium to discover that classes had been cancelled and the whole day was filled with unique challenges. (Photo courtesy of UMEI)

UMEI's future music teacher, Erin Armstrong is the founder and director of Music Moves Kids and Abridged Opera, conductor of the Windsor Community Choir, music director of Leamington United Church, and a regular performer/collaborator with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. (Photo courtesy of Erin Armstrong)

Last year was supposed to be full of celebrations for the 75th anniversary of UMEI Christian High School (formerly United Mennonite Educational Institute). Instead, the pandemic shut things down right after the first big event, a coffee house of music and drama by staff and alumni of the small Mennonite school.

Rituals for reconnecting as we emerge from the pandemic

‘Classic’ rituals like baptism, communion, weddings and funerals, while important, don’t exhaust the need for ritual action, so students are asked to create new rituals that emerge at the intersection of a biblical text and powerful emotions. (AMBS photo)

Each year in the Christian worship: Theory and practice class at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, students spend a couple of weeks considering rituals.

A pastor’s struggle

(Photo by arash payam/Unsplash)

I’m surrounded by a legion of internal voices telling me I am not the pastor I should be. I’m not enough of a leader, not caring enough, not informed enough, not clear, not decisive, not doing enough. My soul cowers at the possibility that the roaring cacophony in my head is correct. Our current moment in history has laid bare my insecurities, deficiencies and anxieties of being a pastor.

Mennonite Heritage Village adapts through pandemic

Photos by Jerry Grajewski, Grajewski Fotograph, Inc.
The Chortitz Housebarn is one of the Mennonite Heritage Village’s signature heritage buildings. It will undergo a major restoration this summer, for which the MHV is currently raising funds. Its goal is 50 percent of the renovation costs—just over $22,000.

Photo courtesy of Mennonite Heritage Village
This newly constructed pergola and the Dirk Willems statue will make up the new Peace Exhibit, along with the Dirk Willems Peace Gardens and pond that are being developed this summer. When it is complete, this area of the MVH grounds will feature interpretation about the Mennonite theology of peace, contemplative places for visitors to sit and rest away from the bustle of the main street in the village and more trails for walking.

The new Mennonites at War exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Village is currently scheduled to open on July 10 (subject to public health restrictions in place at that time) and will run until Nov. 14. It will be available to view in-person and in a 360-degree virtual tour.

The new Mennonites at War exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Village is currently scheduled to open on July 10 (subject to public health restrictions in place at that time) and will run until Nov. 14. It will be available to view in-person and in a 360-degree virtual tour.

The new Mennonites at War exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Village is currently scheduled to open on July 10 (subject to public health restrictions in place at that time) and will run until Nov. 14. It will be available to view in-person and in a 360-degree virtual tour.

Although the Mennonite Heritage Village (MVH) may look like it’s frozen in time, it has adapted impressively to the challenges of the 2020s.

All will be well!

‘St. Paul in prison,’ by Rembrandt, in the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro (cc-by-sa/4.0))

This mural of Julian in Norwich, Norfolk, Great Britain, was painted by Antony Allen in January 2020. Julian is believed to have been the first woman to write a book in English that has survived. It is entitled Revelations of Divine Love and is based on a series of 16 visions she received on May 8, 1373. (Photo © Evelyn Simak (cc-by-sa/2.0))

Last September, at the school where I teach, the director noted the many restraints and restrictions staff and students were experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It seemed that everywhere we turned, we were told we couldn’t do something. Many excellent teaching practices were out of reach because we needed to maintain social distancing.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - COVID-19 pandemic