Pandemic fund targets inequalities in global church

Hope in a relief kit 

God appeared to Mr Nagamanickam through a COVID-19 relief kit.  

He lives in Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu, India, in a small house with his wife and daughter. Like many of his neighbours, he was a day labourer until six years ago when he lost his leg in an accident.  

He had been active in his ward with the help of Gilgal Mission Trust’s Peace and Justice Project, but after his accident, he had no support.  

His wife Lakshmi tried to earn enough money to support the family and his daughter dropped out of school to help.  

During the lockdown, the family lost all hope. They believed they had no source of physical or economic help and had decided to commit suicide. 

Before they could act, Gilgal Mission Trust staff came to them with a relief kit containing lentils, rice sugar, oil, flour and turmeric and basic hygiene supplies including soap and a mask.  

GMT’s application to the Global Church Sharing Fund COVID-19 task force was approved for their outreach to some 3 000 men, women and children like Mr. Nagamanickam. 

Mr Nagamanickam thanked GMT with tears in his eyes. His family again has hope for their future. 

—MWC release, as told to Gilgal Mission Trust staff  

Pandemic fund targets inequalities in global church

Bateke Plateau DRC Mennonite church training
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 MWC member church Communauté Mennonite au Congo (CMCo).

CONIM (Comite National Inter Mennonite) brought together MWC national member churches Communauté Mennonite au Congo, Communauté Evangélique Mennonite, and Communauté des Eglises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (CEFMC) for an application to Mennonite World Conference’s COVID-19 task force. They received funding for multiple projects of food relief and education.

This aid reached the remote Bateke Plateau where Reverend Seraphin Kutumbana serves the six congregations. The COVID-19 funds supported a training on barrier measures, handwashing and distribution of protective equipment.

In May 2020, MWC gathered a task force from Anabaptist mission and service agencies to review proposals for relief funds from MWC member churches in the Global South.

“The fund was created with a recognition that, as with most disasters, the health and economic fallout of the pandemic would be felt unevenly across the global church,” says Henk Stenvers, Deacons Commission secretary.

Up to November 2020, the MWC COVID-19 fund has supported 45 humanitarian initiatives carried out by 53 national Anabaptist churches in 28 countries, with a total project value of US$414,711.

Donations came from MWC member churches, Anabaptist agencies, the MWC Global Church Sharing Fund, individuals and congregations.

“In partnership with Anabaptist mission and service agencies, through the COVID-19 fund, MWC has not only extended humanitarian assistance, but has stood in prayerful solidarity and fellowship with Anabaptist churches ministering under exceedingly difficult circumstances in vulnerable communities across the Global South,” says Henk Stenvers.

The task force supported projects that represented geographic diversity, Anabaptist diversity (e.g., Brethren in Christ and Mennonite Brethren), prioritized basic food and hygiene needs and demonstrated inter-Anabaptist collaboration (e.g. Mennonite Church Service Fellowship in India).

The task force itself was a support to its members who shared with one another and prayed about their own COVID-19 responses.

“We have been struck by the positive collaboration among Anabaptist churches as they have worked together and supported one another in their COVID-19 responses,” says Joji Pantoja. “It is our ardent hope such collaboration continues.”

“Regardless of how the task force winds down, we would see value in convening regular meetings of Anabaptist mission service agencies for the duration of the pandemic to share how they are continuing to respond across the global Anabaptist church to the humanitarian needs stemming from this pandemic,” says Alain Epp Weaver. These meetings could identify gaps in the global Anabaptist church’s response, strategize how to address them, and spur more inter-agency cooperation.

“We have kept in our prayers the myriad ways that Anabaptist churches globally, animated by God’s Spirit, have responded in faith amid the pandemic’s uncertainties and fear,” says Siaka Traoré. “Churches share God’s love by offering their resources with vulnerable members of their congregations and their communities. MWC has been privileged to accompany these churches in this outreach.”

Task force members:

  • Siaka Traore (Burkina Faso, MWC Deacons Commission),
  • Joji Pantoja (Philippines, Mennonite Church Canada Witness & MWC Peace Commission)
  • Henk Stenvers (the Netherlands, MWC Deacons Commission)
  • Max Wiedmer (Switzerland, Swiss Mennonite Mission)
  • Paul Stucky (Colombia, MWC regional representative)
  • Mike Sherrill (U.S., representing Council of International Anabaptist Ministries)
  • Alain Epp Weaver (U.S., task force chair, MCC)

Read more about the COVID-19 response

MWC global church sharing fund responds to pandemic needs
COVID-19 global response fund helps churches: update 1
COVID-19 global response fund helps churches: update 2
COVID-19 global response fund helps churches: update 3


COVID-19 response reaches remote Indonesian island

National church recipients of COVID-19 funds

Angola: Igreja da Comunidade Menonita em Angola (with CIMA) 

Angola: Igreja Evangélica dos Irmãos Mennonitas em Angola (with CIMA)

Angola: Igreja Evangélica Menonita em Angola (with CIMA)

Argentina: Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Argentina

Bolivia: Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Boliviana

Brazil AMAI:

Burkina Faso: Église Évangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso

Colombia: Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia

Colombia: Iglesias Hermanos Menonitas de Colombia in Valle del Cauca and Cauca (implemented in partnership with MCC)

Colombia: Iglesias Hermanos Menonitas de Colombia in Chocó (implemented in partnership with MCC)

Dominican Republic EMC

DR Congo CONIM (representing Communauté des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Congo, Communauté Évangélique Mennonite, Communauté Mennonite au Congo)

Ecuador ICAMdE

Ecuador ICME

Ecuador: Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Ecuatoriana

Ethiopia: Meserete Kristos Church

Ghana: Ghana Mennonite Church

Guatemala: Iglesia Evangélica Menonita de Guatemala

Guatemala: Iglesia Nacional Evangélica Menonita Guatemalteca

Honduras: Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña

India: Bharatiya General Conference Mennonite Church

India Brethren In Christ Church/Bihar (with MCSFI)

India Brethren In Christ Church/Odisha (with MCSFI)

India Bharatiya Jukta Christa Prachar Mandli (with MCSFI)

India: Bihar Mennonite Mandli

India: Gilgal Mission Trust

Indonesia: Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ)

Indonesia: Persatuan Gereja-Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI)

Kenya: Kenya Mennonite Church

Malawi Brethren In Christ Church

Malawi Mennonite Brethren (via Malawi BICC)

Mexico 5 Anabaptist churches (implemented in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee)

Nicaragua CAE (implemented in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee)

Nigeria: Nigeria Mennonite Church

Iglesia Evangelica Unida (IEU) – Hermanos Menonitas de Panamá

Peru: Iglesia Evangélica Menonita del Perú

Peru: Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia

Peru: Conferencia Peruana Hermanos Menonitas

Sierra Leone: Christ Salvation Mennonite Church (with AIMM and EEMBF)

South Africa Grace Community Church

Uganda: Mennonite Church of Uganda

Venezuela: Iglesia Menonita

Venezuela: Casa de Restauracion y Vida Shalom

Zambia Brethren In Christ Church (with Mennonite Central Committee)

Zimbabwe Brethren In Christ Church (with Mennonite Central Committee)

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