Instead of being a great leveller, the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing pre-existing systemic inequalities that benefit some and disadvantage others. How can the Anabaptist family respond?
Mennonite World Conference has invited Anabaptist mission and service agencies to coordinate their financial response to COVID-19 hardships experienced especially by under-resourced member churches around the world.
How to apply for COVID-19 Global Church Sharing Fund
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.
Mennonite World Conference’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force has approved 35 relief proposals with several more approvals in process, including assistance for Mennonites in Venezuela.
For people in Sumba Island, the COVID-19 pandemic may not be their top worry. Thanks to their remote location, less than two dozen infections have been confirmed on the island as of 4 August 2020. However, the community is devastated by the economic blow of the coronavirus lockdowns.
“The church’s response is unique in that we provide accompaniment rather than just distribute rations. This means walking together to feed not only the body but also the soul in these desperate times in which many have lost sight of the meaning of life,” says Yanett Palacios, president of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita de Guatemala. Mennonite World Conference’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force has approved 21 relief proposals, including that of Yanett Palacios of IEMG, a national MWC member church in Guatemala.
“It will reflect our love of Christ to them; [that] we care and are concerned for them and it will also bring smile in their faces,” says Bishop Dr. Bijoy Kumar Roul, Chairman, Brethren In Christ Church, Cuttack, Odisha, India. Mennonite World Conference’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force has approved 21 relief proposals, including Bishop Bijoy Roul’s from BIC Church Odisha.
When stay-at-home guidelines are eased and church doors and sanctuaries reopen, worship and church ministries will, undoubtedly, look different than before the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. And so it should – so that we continue to keep ourselves and our faith communities safe and healthy. But that means pastors and church leaders should prepare for what the “next normal” will be for the congregation and its ministry. The following are some things to consider before inviting congregants back into the (physical) pews.
The world appears to be without hope. But an answer for humanity today is waiting within the pages of the Bible.
This is a profoundly challenging time for all of us around the globe. The corona virus has struck many of us and our communities, and will continue to do so. In times of such adversity we wish so much to gather, to pray together, to plead with one voice for healing and hope. And we want to reach out in person to those who are suffering – embracing them with hugs, food, and personal visits. That is how we are used to showing God’s love.
“Let us join our brothers and sisters in Christ across communions by joining our prayers with theirs in solidarity and faith in Jesus,” says Mennonite World Conference general secretary César García.
With Coronavirus (COVID-19) unsettling the global human family, Mennonite World Conference leaders put confidence in the living God who says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you” (Isaiah 41:10).
We pray for everyone who has been affected by Covid-19. For those who have died; for those who have been ill; for the family members that this has affected; for those whose jobs and livelihoods have been affected by the economic downturn that this pandemic has caused; for all of us as our lives and our “normals” have changed.
Pray for pastors who continue to serve their congregations where members have lost their jobs and are no long able to give financially. Praise God for provision from unexpected places despite hardship.
Praise God for the businesses that have been able to switch production lines to make personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer. Praise God for volunteers who have helped to sew masks and prepare food packages those people without an income.
Pray for families who are mourning lost loved ones. Pray for church leaders who need to find creative ways to provide meaningful rituals for mourners in a time of social distancing.[edit this prayer]
We pray for those who are facing hunger due to food shortages, harvest disruptions, and the effects of climate change on local food production. May God provide and may those with many resources share with those who have less, on both local and international levels.
We are mindful of the many persons – doctors, nurses, family members, friends – who are caring for those who are suffering from COVID-19. We give thanks for their self-giving, and pray for their safety and on-going energy. May the Risen One be there at the bed side, in the hospital, along with them.
We are mindful of the many persons – doctors, nurses, family members, friends – who are caring for those who are suffering from this contagious illness. We give thanks for their self-giving, and pray for their safety and on-going energy. May the Risen One be there at the bed side, in the hospital, along with them.
We are also mindful of those many within our global family for whom physical distancing is impossible. We pray for God’s gracious protection.
May this global crisis draw us closer to God and closer to each other. May we find ways to show and witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ. And may we have the courage to be the Body of the Risen One in this hour of our world’s suffering.
Mennonite World Conference calls for Anabaptist and Mennonite congregations around the world to unite in prayer and to exercise precautionary measures in the church. Pray for people who are isolated, afraid or ill, especially in Wuhan, Hubei Province and mainland China. Pray for wisdom for Chinese government and health authorities working to contain the outbreak, and for courage, compassion and safety for healthcare workers who work tirelessly to save lives. Also pray for wisdom for all governments and health authorities working to prevent the spread of the virus. May they act with compassion and caution.