EMMC Congregation Receives Grant from Spirit of MDS Fund
Winnipeg, MB – An Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference church is one of five Canadian congregations that have received grants this fall from the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Canada Spirit of MDS Fund.
The purpose of the Fund is to assist churches in Canada as they serve and support people in their communities.
The Deer Run (Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference) Church in Leamington, Ont. will use a grant to help families struggling financially to pay for rent and groceries, and also for Christmas gifts for their children. The church will also use the grant to support snack and breakfast programs at local schools.
“Our region has many students who only get one meal a day, the one they receive at school,” said Deer Run church member Helen Andrade. “The program helps them feel valued and allows them to focus on learning instead of their hunger.”
Also receiving support from the Fund is the Saturday Night Church, an Evangelical Mennonite Conference congregation in Landmark, Man., will use a grant to provide food for homeless people and those facing financial challenges.
The church will provide bags with a sandwich, fruit, granola bar and a drink three times a year for homeless people in Winnipeg, and also make casseroles for Steinbach Community Outreach, an organization that assists homeless people in that southern Manitoba city.
The grant from MDS Canada will help since the church is “feeling the pinch of rising prices of groceries,” said church members Lisa Verinder and Sharon Hildebrand. “It will help make it feasible for us to continue being involved in this way.”
Soup’s On Inc., which works out of Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach, Man., will use a grant to support families living with food insecurities in that community through its school lunch program.
“We are currently providing several schools with 70 lunches per day with growing interest from other schools wishing to participate,” said John Kroeker, treasurer for Soup’s On.
The families helped by the Mennonite Church Manitoba congregation are “living in poverty and often send their children to school without a lunch,” Kroeker said, adding that the grant will enable the church to purchase lunch supplies.
Hope Mennonite Church, a Mennonite Church Manitoba congregation in Winnipeg, is part of a shared space called Crossways in Common where five partners share a commitment to serve the local community.
One of Hope’s partners is 1JustCity, an organization that serves a full evening meal four days a week and provides support programs for seniors, emergency food, mentoring around housing security and access to social services and Indigenous cultural programming.
1JustCity has seen an increase in demand for meals, said Hope Mennonite Church pastor Lynell Bergen — up from 80 people on average per day to 100 to 110.
“This is putting a strain on their resources,” she said, adding the Spirit of MDS Fund grant will be used to help 1JustCity upgrade its kitchen to make it easier for them to meet the growing demand. This includes upgraded countertops, a new dishwasher and perhaps a new commercial freezer.
The Centre Bethesda Mennonite de Quebec, a Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada congregation in Quebec City, will use funds from MDS Canada to provide food assistance for people in the community, both members and non-members.
“The recession, and post-pandemic financial situation, doesn’t allow some people to properly feed themselves and their families,” said pastor Charles Tabena. “Many members of the community are poor and others are newcomers to Canada.”
The church will respond by creating food baskets and bringing them to needy families, and also by offering food and fellowship at the church. “There will be some days when we invite homeless people from the community for hot meals,” he said.
The Spirit of MDS Fund was created in 2020 as a way for MDS Canada to support Canadian congregations responding to increased needs due to the pandemic. In 2022 it was made a permanent part of MDS Canada’s program to assist churches that want to serve people in their communities. Since being launched, the fund has made 164 grants worth over $350,000 to congregations and organizations.
For more information, or to apply for a grant, visit https://mds.org/spirit-of-mds-fund/
This article was originally published in The Recorder Vol 60, no. 1