In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, stories poured in from MWC member churches about job loss and hunger in their congregations and communities due to shut downs. Mennonite World Conference began collecting funds to respond to pandemic-related needs within and through the household of faith.
A year into the pandemic, MWC is blessing and affirming Mennonite-Anabaptist mission and service agencies as they continue their efforts to respond to the pandemic in partnership with Anabaptist churches around the world.
“We recognize the expertise and infrastructure our agencies have to be effective in long-term response to the pandemic,” says César García, MWC general secretary.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Anabaptist mission and service agencies were dealing with their own crises of relocating international service workers, and closing or adapting programs to new conditions, while also providing needed support to Anabaptist churches in the global South struck hard by COVID-19 and its economic fallout.
MWC gathered a task force to bring Mennonite agencies together to share information and expertise in response to the pandemic. Members included Deacons Commission secretary and chair Henk Stenvers and Siaka Traoré, Peace Commission chair Joji Pantoja, Andean regional representative Pablo Stucky, and two other representatives of Anabaptist mission and service agencies, chaired by Mennonite Central Committee strategic planning director Alain Epp Weaver. The task force oversaw MWC’s effort to accompany Anabaptist churches globally in ensuring that pressing humanitarian needs related to the pandemic were met.
This task force considered proposals for grants of up to $10,000 for COVID-19 response – mainly for emergency food, hygiene and education resources.
Cooperation between partners through the COVID-19 response was evident not only in the task force, bringing together agencies in conversation, but also between national churches applying with proposals.
- Mennonite Christian Service Fellowship of India helped Indian national churches in planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting their humanitarian assistance projects.
- In Mexico, five national Anabaptist churches worked with MCC on a coordinated COVID-19 response.
- With the support of Africa Inter-Mennonite Missions, the Mennonite church in Burkina Faso (EEMBF) supported the new Mennonite Church in Sierra Leone to carry out a project.
“First I want to give thanks to God, and then to all those who made the arrival of this ‘good portion’ in our lives possible,” says Patricia Torres Guerrero of Hacedores de Paz (Mennonite) Church in El Salto Jalisco, Mexico, a recipient of COVID-19 aid. Their barber shop was closed due to the pandemic and her husband’s pension was taken for the month. “We went to the church and we were crying out to God for help.”
The next day, the pastor called to invite them to visit the church’s food pantry. “After going to the distribution centre, I went home and ran to my bedroom where I began to cry. I thanked God for being so good to us. It’s all I can do to thank my brothers and sisters in faith who were God’s instrument in blessing us.”
“In this second phase, we will continue walking together, supporting each other in prayer and sharing information,” says César García, MWC general secretary.
“We are one family: we invite supporters to continue giving through these mission and service agencies,” says César García.
To donate to ongoing Anabaptist efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs created by the pandemic, please see the list of Anabaptist mission and service agencies at the end of this release.
Until the end of December, a total of $444,711 USD flowed to 47 COVID-19 response proposals in the Anabaptist-Mennonite family.
“We are thankful for the generosity of so many people who gave as an expression of “equality” within the MWC family, as is the goal of the Global Church Sharing Fund according to 2 Corinthians 8:13-15,” says Henk Stenvers.
“Through this COVID-19 response, MWC fostered information-sharing and collaboration among Anabaptist churches and mission and service agencies, calling together a global response to meet the challenges posed by a global pandemic,” says Alain Epp Weaver.
MWC will continue to convene mission and service agency representatives to share information about COVID-19 response projects from each agency and follow up on reports from previously funded projects.
“Vaccines are unevenly distributed around the world, and will continue to be for the next few years,” says Arli Klassen, MWC regional representatives coordinator. “The church must have a voice in caring for those most negatively impacted by COVID, by lockdowns and by vaccine distribution.”
Anabaptist mission and service agencies supporting COVID-19 projects
- Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission (AIMM)
- Brethren In Christ World Mission (BICWM)
- Caisse de Secours (France)
- Doopsgezind WereldWerk (Netherlands)
- CIM – Council of International Anabaptist Ministries
- EMM – Eastern Mennonite Missions
- Evangelical Mennonite Conference Missions
- Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
- Mennonite Church Canada
- Mennonite Mission Network
- Mennonitische Hilfswerk
- Multiply (formerly MB Mission)
- Rosedale International (Conservative Mennonite Conference)
- Swiss Mennonite Mission (SMM)
- Virginia Mennonite Missions (VMMissions)
|Learn more about MWC's COVID-19 response