Generosity and Care in Kitchener

woman at front doorOne Congregation's Care of Each Other

Loss of jobs because of COVID-19 greatly affected people from First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, ON. “We have many Personal Support Workers in our congregation,” says Rene Baergen, a pastor at First Mennonite. “They are on the front line and very susceptible to the virus and to the challenges of quarantine. We also have many people who work jobs that were quickly shut down because of the pandemic.” 

First Mennonite already had a fund set up for emergency needs. “We saw folks losing work and being forced into quarantine - fourteen days at home without a pay cheque can be devastating,” says Rene. “When we realized this was going to go on for some time, we decided to lower the amount we would typically give in emergency situations so that we could provide more of a steady drip of support for people over the long haul.” They modified their emergency fund protocols so that they could give smaller amounts and more often. However, the fund was quickly depleted, overwhelmed by the needs within the congregation. 

“Who doesn’t want to receive a supper from your church family?”

The financial loss of this pandemic, strongly felt by many, did not affect others in the congregation as deeply. “We put out an invitation to the congregation, to those who were able to help, and we were astonished. Over $4,000 came in to replenish that account. When that was used up, a further $8,000 appeared,” recalls Rene. 

casseroles in freezerA cook within the congregation ensures that frozen casseroles are always in the church freezer. This has been an on-going ministry. Now the pastors, when they have porch or driveway visits, are able to leave a care package behind containing frozen suppers, masks and other essential items. “Who doesn’t want to receive a supper from your church family?” asks Rene with a smile. This has also provided First Mennonite a tangible way to care for each other. One member donated a box of frozen chicken breasts and the cook turned that into many chicken casseroles to be shared. Another member of the congregation has been busy making masks throughout the pandemic, and she is able to bless others within the congregation who need them. 

“It has been wonderful to see the resources of the congregation being connected with the needs of the congregation.”

Through these porch visits, the pastors have also been able to hear about other needs within the congregation. They discovered one household struggling during a heat wave; the congregation delivered an air conditioner. Children and youth in households suddenly needed to be on-line for school; the congregation delivered refurbished computers. 

“It has been wonderful to see the resources of the congregation being connected with the needs of the congregation,” says Rene. “This feels normal to me in some ways because First Mennonite is a generous church. It has been a flowering of something that has always been a part of our practice, but in this time has become much more important.” 

People across MCEC continue to find creative and innovate ways to stay connected during this time of pandemic - covid stories of hope.