Category Archives: Current Events

Thoughts for church leaders on reopening

As pastors and leaders, we’ve been acting in full crisis-response mode to COVID-19 and stay-at-home restrictions for weeks.  We’ve been in *liminal space, where who we thought we were and what we thought we needed may have gotten blurred and shape-shifted by the coronavirus crisis. Fueled by adrenaline, sustained by prayer, we have had to re-imagine and manage new forms of worship, new structures for community, and new challenges for mission – hopefully for the very-short term.

With COVID-19 restrictions beginning to ease, how do we transition from reacting in crisis-response mode to engaging a more measured and reflective response mode for this next phase? Disaster spiritual care practitioners have found that the greatest need for pastoral care emerges with the shift from short-term to long-term recovery, when people discover that for real, things will not go back to normal. Debilitating anxiety, hopelessness, depression, blaming, and scapegoating can easily set in.

Isaiah 43 says, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  In this liminal space and time, where vision is altered and perceptions get blurred, God invites us to imagine, thoughtfully and prayerfully, what new thing is promised for us. Will this “new thing” look like the old? What will it require of us?

Whatever our starting point, let us as leaders plan wisely and well for next steps. Some approaches:

  1. What are the “essential” services through which our people most deeply experience connection with God and each other?
  2. Which of these essential components of our church life can we restart first without compromising anyone’s health?
  3. How will we monitor the effectiveness/safety of these activities?
  4. How will we discern what should be restarted next?
  5. What [emerging] spiritual, emotional, mental, social, physical needs require more attention?
  6. What/Who may be missing from our current plan?
  7. To what extent do our plans comply with local and state health directives?

For the children of Israel returning home from 70 or so years of exile, God provided a roadway in the wilderness, water included, inviting them into new modes for a new time springing forth.  May we as leaders and congregations discern the mind of Christ as we meet the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 with the best from before and the best that will emerge as together we seek to follow the way of Jesus.

*”Liminal” refers to “threshold” or “boundary” areas between one of phase [of life], and another: Dawn and dusk are liminal times between day and night, when visibility changes, perceptions are altered, edges get blurred, shapes shift, and new insights can emerge in the transition to light or dark.

Puerto Rico Mennonite Convention – open letter to Puerto Rico government

A Call to the Mennonite Churches of La Convención of PR and
To the government leadership of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

The Mennonite Church preaches and lives nonresistance and peace. Since their beginnings in the 16th century, the Mennonites have promoted and embraced the biblical doctrine of peace in all its dimensions; affirming the value of life and rejecting actions that advance injustice, suffering and death. As servants of Christ we work restlessly for God’s peace as supreme desire for all creation. ” Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called children of God” Mt 5:9. We believe that peace is necessary for social justice.

As a Church we pray, we support and submit ourselves to our government 1 Peter 2:11-16. The power given to our government leaders must promote social justice and quality of life. When this power puts personal interest above collective interest, this causes evil and oppression to emerge. Therefore, Christians have the duty to call on the government leaders to change those practices in order to promote the common good, liberty, healing, respect and justice for all. A follower of Christ can join the institutions and movements that provoke social changes, with much spiritual discernment. This is the prophetic role that the church has in its society: condemn oppression, injustice, discrimination, mockery, verbal, physical or written violence.

As Mennonites and followers of Christ we raise up our voices to be heard, we have become outraged just like Christ did. Jesus, son of God, revolutionized history, pointed out hypocrisy, he turned in the religious entities and the governing entities in favor of the poor, the undervalued, the oppressed, the forgotten and the discriminated against.

With the responsibility we carry as a church, we have read the content of the hundred of chat pages of the Governor and closely related workers, and we understand those remarks are contrary to the values our community of faith and of the people of Puerto Rico. Given the charges of corruption facing your government and the claims of the Puertoricans on the island and outside, the remarks of some of the members of congress, the mismanagement of the donations and relief funds; we invite you Mr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevarez and all your governmental body to deeply reflect on the recent events and the effect they have had on the people of Puerto Rico. We (will) trust the Lord will guide you to make a decision which will benefit Our Land. We accept your forgiveness and forgive you, but you need to face the consequences of your actions.

May God help you,
Jannette Clarissa Negron Concepcion 
Moderator of the a Council 

This letter was translated by Elizabeth Soto and is shared with permission.

ELANCO Memory Cafe to Open

Stigma-free gathering for people with memory impairment and their caregivers

NEW HOLLAND, PA. – The ELANCO Dementia Friendly Community is pleased to announce the start of Memory Cafés in Morgantown and New Holland.

“A Memory Café is a stigma-free social gathering for people with memory impairment and their caregivers,” coordinator Crystal Yunginger explains. “We want to create a space where people cango and enjoy time together and socialize with others.”

“It’s not a support group,” Yunginger cautions. Instead, she says, “A Memory Café is an opportunity to connect with other people who may be facing the same challenges and find informal peer support.”

Volunteers with the ELANCO Dementia Friendly Community will host the Memory Cafés. Volunteers will have first aid and dementia training, but they will not be able to provide a diagnosis. Instead they can provide understanding and resources.

A Memory Café will be held on the second Wednesday of each month at Conestoga Mennonite Church, 2779 Main Street, Morgantown, from 6:15-7:45 p.m. In addition, a Memory Café will be held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at Trinity Lutheran Church, 221 E Main Street, New Holland from 2:15-3:45 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided during these free events.

The ELANCO Dementia Friendly Community initiative offers educational resources about dementia and support for those living with the effects of dementia to the ELANCO community.  The Dementia Friendly Community steering committee is comprised of representatives from the local business, public service, and church community, individuals personally impacted by dementia, and persons currently working in professional care of those with dementia. 

For more information, contact Crystal Yunginger, Memory Café coordinator, at 717.487.6223.