MCBC Congregations and our World Respond to Covid-19

MCBC Congregations and our World Respond to COVID-19

The measures being called for and implemented in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic are like wartime measures.  There has been nothing like this since at least World War II.  The unique difference is that there is a common enemy to all, and that we are uniting in our efforts to stop this common enemy, rather than pitting ourselves in battle, one against the other.  The rationing at grocery stores so that people don’t horde (one flat of eggs, selection of meat or package of toilet paper per customer); the limitation of people entering the bank, post office or pharmacy (one person at a time, and only essential purchases – at least in some places); waiting six feet away from your neighbour to allow one person to ride the elevator at a time in our condo; and, of course, moving around people while out to make essential purchases with at least six feet of separation – all seems strange in this free country of Canada, BUT IT IS OH SO NECESSARY.

Our churches have been really trying hard to provide worship and relational ministry electronically and via social media. There has been and continues to be some great and creative work done. We are so thankful for the electronic media that we have for such a time as this, especially face-to-face connecting on platforms like Skype and Zoom. The language began as “social distancing,” but has quickly shifted to “physical distancing and social connecting.” Amazingly, we still have the phone to just pick up and talk with our loved ones, and for the older folks who haven’t found their way into social media, the phone is a lifeline. Let’s be sure to pick it up and call those who aren’t connected by visual media.

What is an Anabaptist observation in these times? As you probably know, the Anabaptist perspective on the Christian faith and life has caught the interest of many beyond the Mennonite Church in post-Christendom. Jesus is the centre of our faith; Community is the centre of our lives; Reconciliation is the centre of our work. I have heard from some of our MCBC pastors, and from several sources in the broader Christian world, that producing a weekly broadcast of worship may not be our most valuable effort in these times, especially if the call to not congregate goes on for an extended period of time. There is much creative thought happening as to how we best be the community of faith. Efforts at building human connection without being gathered together are being imagined. I am really looking forward to what percolates up from this imagining. Let’s be sure to share with each other as new ideas arise.

Let’s be diligent and persist with the physical distancing being called for ... and just STAY AT HOME … AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! Hopefully we can prevent the human to human spread of COVID-19. May God heal those who have been infected, and may they be wise to contain it. May God give us courage, peace, faith, hope and love.

May God give us courage, peace, faith, hope and love.

Garry Janzen,
Executive Minister of Mennonite Church British Columbia (MCBC).