The coronavirus continues to impact ways in which USMB and inter-Mennonite agencies are carrying out their ministries. Mennonite World Conference has postponed its global assembly and the two Mennonite Brethren colleges are beginning the new academic year in keeping with local and state guidelines.
Six months into the global pandemic, more than 5,599,400 people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 174,300 have died, according to a New York Times database. At least 1,080 new coronavirus deaths and 49,787 new cases were reported in the u.S. on Aug. 20. Over the past week, there have been an average of 46,556 cases per day, a decrease of 16 percent from the average two weeks earlier.
Mennonite World Conference reschedules Assembly
Mennonite World Conference announced Aug. 20 it is postponing its global assembly until July 5-10, 2022.
The MWC Executive Committee made the decision in consultation with the national advisory committee in the host country, Indonesia. The gathering, normally held every six years, was set to take place in July 2021.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to infect hundreds of thousands of people each day. Restrictions of large-group gatherings are still in place, and travel is not advised,” says MWC President J. Nelson Kraybill. “These limitations will remain in place for many more months. The likelihood we can safely gather in person as a global family for group worship, service and learning in 2021 seems low.”
National advisory council chair Paulus Widjaja says the Indonesian Mennonite churches are committed to hosting the assembly.
Read the full announcement: https://mwc-cmm.org/assembly/stories/mwc-shifts-assembly-2022
Colleges begin new semester
COVID-19 has altered college life for students, faculty and staff at the two U.S. Mennonite Brethren college.
Fall semester classes began in person Aug. 18 at Tabor College, the MB school in Hillsboro, Kansas, with a variety of precautions and restrictions in place.
Classes for traditional undergraduate, graduate and seminary students at Fresno Pacific University, headquartered in Fresno, California, will begin online Aug. 24. FPU’s bachelor’s degree completion students are in session 2, which began August 17.
Incoming freshman were invited to the main FPU campus for a meet-and-greet Friday, August 21, outdoors in Alumni Plaza. About 70 new students signed up for the event, which brought them onto campus individually and in small groups—masked and socially distanced—between 9:00 a.m. and noon to meet with their freshman mentors and in some cases tour the campus.
For additional information about FPU’s plans, visit their website: https://www.fresno.edu/coronavirus-covid-19-news-and-information
The Tabor College campus opened earlier this month at the yellow level of moderate risk and will continue at that level until further notice. The yellow level requires that masks be worn in indoor spaces, physical distancing is practiced whenever possible and personal daily temperature checks. Classes for the semester are being taught using a hybrid model.
For details about Tabor’s coronavirus strategies, visit the college’s website: https://tabor.edu/home/openandready/
Tabor College has also postponed it’s Arts Hall of Fame Celebration and Induction Ceremony scheduled for August 29. For over a year the Arts Hall of Fame Committee has been planning a celebration to honor the first class of inductees and their families. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the event is rescheduled for August 28, 2021.
MWC COVID-19 relief aid reaches remote Indonesian island
Thanks to their remote location, few people living in Sumba Island have contracted COVID-19. But, the community is devastated by the economic blow of the coronavirus lockdowns.
Members of the five Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI) Ekklesia (Bali) church outposts on the island – mostly farmers of corn and seaweed or traditional weavers – have seen their income eroded.
“Before COVID-19, the people in Sumba Island were already facing extraordinary circumstances,” says GKMI synod moderator Agus Mayanto. “Global warming has lessened their seaweed harvest, and long droughts have become much more of an issue. They also have limited access to clean water and education.”
The MWC COVID-19 Global Church Sharing Fund has enabled GKMI to provide food baskets for some 100 households who are members of their congregations.
Read more about the MWC global response: https://mwc-cmm.org/deacons-commission/stories/covid-19-global-response-fund-helps-churches-0
Connie Faber joined the magazine staff in 1994 and assumed the duties of editor in 2004. She has won awards from the Evangelical Press Association for her writing and editing. Faber is the co-author of Family Matters: Discovering the Mennonite Brethren. She and her husband, David, have two daughters, one son, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law and two grandchildren. They are members of Ebenfeld MB Church in Hillsboro, Kansas.