11 grants issued to Mennonite Brethren congregations and ministries
WINNIPEG, Man. — It’s been a busy few months at Living Word Temple, a Mennonite Brethren congregation in the north end of Winnipeg, with over 100 lunches given out each day.
Along with the food, the church has given out a large number of food hampers and clothing, said Senior Ministry Director Steve Klassen.
“COVID-19 has created a very significant challenge for many of these people,” he said, adding the church also distributed food for 40 families a week using a donated van.
The church was able to serve people in the community with help from a grant from the Spirit of MDS Fund, provided by Mennonite Disaster Service Canada to congregations and ministries in Canada to help them serve people during the pandemic.
“The majority of our clients require delivery and so this van has been a great help for our volunteers,” said Klassen. “Our food bank is able to operate because of donations like this.”
“Thanks to MDS for the ways you have been supporting our Living Word Community Ministry,” he added.
The support for Living Word Temple was just one of 43 grants worth $104,900 provided in March and April by the Spirit of MDS Fund. Eleven of those grants went to Mennonite Brethren congregations.
The Fund was created by MDS Canada in 2020 when the pandemic forced it to shutter its normal operations of rebuilding and repairing homes impacted by natural disasters. The organization decided to support local congregations and ministries on the frontlines of the pandemic disaster through the Fund.
Since its creation in 2020, the Fund has provided a total of 81 grants worth $206,900 to help groups respond to needs in their communities due to COVID-19.
At Southridge Community Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, a grant from the Fund was used to support migrant farmworkers in the Niagara Region who serve in the agricultural sector from March to October every year.
“Our migrant worker friends have been hit hard by the pandemic as it has magnified their isolation, their challenges in accessing healthcare, and even their ability to access groceries as regularly as they need to, along with financial impacts,” said Southridge Action Pastor Nathan Dirks.
The church used the grant to provide groceries, PPE and hand sanitizer for the farmworkers, along with helping them get access to medical care.
Also in St. Catharines, the Northend Church used a grant to support its food bank, which it started last year in response to the pandemic.
“We started serving a couple families and week and now serve up to 40 families per week,” said Pastor Mike Sherbino, adding the money was used to buy food and household items, as well as to provide needed logistical support for delivery vehicles, fuel and administrative supplies.
For Ross Penner, Director of Operations for MDS Canada, stories like these show the importance of coming alongside churches during the pandemic.
“It’s a privilege to partner with them to serve others, especially since MDS Canada can’t do its usual service due to COVID-19,” he said. “It’s a way for us to respond to needs through them.”
John Longhurst, MDS Canada Communications Coordinator