COVID-19

Sundays without singing

(Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)

Never thought there would be Sundays without singing. 

Like churches across Canada, ours has been shuttered as a precaution against the novel coronavirus. I understand why this must be, but I sure miss getting together and joining our voices.


'Singing solo is lonely,' writes Carl DeGurse (pictured).

Watch: A virtual Mennonite Easter choir

More than 25 Mennonites from across North America participated. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

In the past few weeks, it’s likely you’ve seen a video of people singing together virtually.

When the members of Winnipeg’s Prairie Voices choir had to cancel their 20th anniversary concert as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they channeled their disappointment into this video

Beyond ourselves 

'You and I can expand our circle of attention...' (Image by Arek Socha/Pixabay)

As I write, my household is entering into our fourth week of physical distancing. Facing the fast-spreading and potentially deadly coronavirus, my spouse and I sit in a comfortable house, with a dependable supply of food and are thankful for good sanitation. We have books, music and movies. We’re still employed, and we’re connecting digitally with a network of family and friends.

The public good in a time of pandemic

'Societal and governmental responses here and around the world show that people and institutions can change quickly.' (Image by Miroslava Chrienova/Pixabay)

The COVID-19 pandemic feels surreal. Streets of our cities are nearly empty, even at rush hour. Kids are home, schools have gone online, and some workers log in from home after many years of regular commutes to an office. And huge numbers of workers have been laid off. 

Musician offers online singalong

Singing into an iPad propped on top of a stack of books, Bryan Moyer Suderman leads an online singalong from his home, to help people connect and find encouragement and hope during days of physical distancing. (Photo by Julie Moyer Suderman)

“A little bit of yeast makes the whole dough rise . . . you do your part; I’ll do mine,” sings Bryan Moyer Suderman, using his body as a percussion instrument. But instead of singing at a concert or a worship service, the itinerant musician is at home singing into an iPad propped up on a stack of books, doing his part to practise physical distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Saskatchewan health-care professionals reflect on COVID-19

Erik and Cara Epp are shown with their daughter. (Photo courtesy of Cara Epp)

While many people are staying home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, some, like Erik and Cara Epp, continue to work because their jobs are considered essential. The Epps, who live in Rosthern, both work in health care. 

As a pharmacist, Erik divides his workdays between Rosthern’s two pharmacies. 

Mennonite Church Alberta holds virtual AGM

A screen shot of participants at this year’s MC Alberta annual general meeting, held online using the Zoom platform. (Photo by Joanne De Jong)

With COVID-19 limiting the ability to connect in person, virtual meetings now seem to be the wave of the future. Mennonite Church Alberta had already been using the Zoom platform to hold small provincial committee meetings online, but when its annual general meeting (AGM) was cancelled, the regional church decided to explore whether a larger meeting with Zoom could work as well.

Nourishing body, mind and spirit

Realizing the interconnectedness of mental health and wellness may be key in coping with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

The spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced Canadians to learn to cope with forced isolation, loss of work and social events, and an uncertain future. For a church community accustomed to weekly worship services and small group gatherings, learning how to maintain a sense of community and foster wellness among members presents an unprecedented challenge.

Grebelites continue in community amid COVID-19 separation

At Grebel, students are craving community connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured, apartment dwellers visit with Grebel’s director of operations, Paul Penner, outside their window, and with the director of student services, Mary Brubaker-Zehr, via video chat. (Photo by Anna Kuepfer)

Most people’s lives have shifted dramatically in the past few weeks, as they grapple with social isolation, educational upheaval, job changes, pandemic preparations and health-care emergencies surrounding COVID-19. Conrad Grebel University College is no different.

COVID-19 has significant impact for MDS

Curtis and Heather Funk of Winkler, Man., work on a house in Marianna, Fla., one of the Mennonite Disaster Service projects now shut down due to COVID-19. (Photo by Paul Hunt)

For Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), COVID-19 has had a significant impact on operations.

It started on March 13, when the organization closed all current projects in locations across the United States due to the coronavirus; there were no projects in operation in Canada. A week later, it suspended all summer programs in both countries.

Menno leaders publish Holy Week letter

'This is a difficult time for many.' (Image by elizabethalliburton/Pixabay)

The executive directors of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) have published a letter of encouragement to constituents this week during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter—which you can read below—acknowledges the unusual circumstances and challenges surrounding this year’s Holy Week, while offering a message of hope and unity.

Latest MHC Gallery exhibition available online

The Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg may be closed to the public as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but its latest exhibit is available for online viewing. Titled “Breaking the Silence on Domestic Violence 2,” the exhibit features work by amateur and professional artists. It’s the follow-up to a one-day exhibition held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in November 2018, and it aims to bring the issue of domestic abuse to the wider public.

An open letter of gratitude

Robert and Irene Suderman. (Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/MennoniteChurchCanada)

I am—apparently—vulnerable. This for two reasons: I’m chronologically categorized (senior), and I’m locationally challenged (live in a senior’s community).

But I don’t feel vulnerable. My wife and I are both in excellent health, with robust energy, and significantly active in meaningful things. The social definition and my personal experience of who I am don’t match. 

Four ways MCC is responding to COVID-19

Angela Bifuko Bahati (centre, orange dress) and her family live in the Mubimbi camp outside of Minova in eastern DR Congo. They have access to a clinic supported by MCC. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

Things like frequent handwashing and social distancing have become the new normal. This is life during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures help reduce the spread and keep everyone safe. We’re all in this together.

MC Canada congregations offering online worship services

‘This is an unexpected opportunity to work at rebuilding our sense of peoplehood nationwide,’ says Doug Klassen, executive minister for MC Canada. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Mennonite Church Canada, in collaboration with its regional churches and their local congregations, will share worship services each week for congregations across our nationwide community of faith. 

Outtatown students stranded in Guatemala

Outtatown students pose for a group shot at the top of Pacaya, a volcano that lies 30 km. outside of Guatemala City. (Photo courtesy of Instagram.com/outtatowncmu)

While school and government officials work together to bring the group home, 36 students, six leaders and two program staff from Canadian Mennonite University’s Outtatown Discipleship School are waiting patiently in Guatemala, putting the semester's lessons to the test. 

Love in the time of COVID-19

3d Rendering of the Corona Virus In Red Background - Microbiology And Virology Concept (Photo taken from istock.com/RomoloTavani)

Thursday, as I sat down to a board meeting for the Micah Mission, a restorative justice organization in Saskatoon, I got the news that the Juno Awards show was being cancelled in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. For months I’d been hearing the Junos hyped on CBC Radio 2 and seeing advertisements on billboards around town, where the shows were to be broadcast from.

Being the church in risky times

Arli Klassen and Keith Regehr with their children in Maseru circa 1993. (Photo courtesy of Arli Klassen)

As relatively privileged people living in Canada, there aren’t too many times that we think about whether this action or that action might result in our death. Living in these pandemic times, though, reminds me of our years living in southern Africa near the end of official apartheid. We thought often then of whether doing this or that might result in death.

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