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Mennonite compliance during Covid 19

Everyone has had to make concessions and adapt to a new way of life due to the social distancing restrictions legislated to limit the spread of the corona virus. Isolation and quarantine rules are in place for people that may have been exposed. Group gatherings are not allowed and families have been prohibited from coming together. Church services have been eliminated, schools have been cancelled, weddings limited to five guests and funerals allowing only ten people to be present. Work places have not allowed employees back and everyone is expected to “work from home”. There have been times of despair when everyone was anxiously waiting for this to end and life to return back to normal, whatever that may be.

The Mennonite community has been under these same restrictions. Their daily lives are not as reliant on social contact with outside sources. Most of the families work at home, either on the farm, in the garden or at an on-farm business or shop. Since families are not allowing “outsiders” in the home, the spread of the virus has been very limited. Grocery shopping trips are the only times when they venture into the city.

The children have not been allowed to attend school since March 17. Some families don’t have access to internet so the teachers had to find other creative ways to send lessons to their students. Teachers are focusing on Math, Grammar and Spelling as core subjects and are preparing weekly assignments for the children that are picked up at a specified location or may be delivered into mailboxes. Last week’s homework is traded for the new lesson. In this way the scholars have been able to keep up with their school work. However, the teachers remark that they “miss seeing the faces of their students”!

Any weddings that have been planned are taking place with only five people present, the couple, the pastor and two witnesses. The social celebration is postponed to a later date!

Funerals happen at any time and compromises are being implemented as well. Some funeral homes have allowed ten people at once to view the deceased for a few minutes and then make room for the next group of ten to come into the room. Graveside prayers are also limited to small groups of ten. A large family will have to repeat this service a number of times to allow everyone to pay their last respects. Other viewings have been done in a “drive by” fashion where the cars or buggies pass the casket in the parking lot of the church. The burial service can be heard via telephone through an access number for friends and family to call.

The remarks that have been expressed are of extreme loneliness and not being able to grieve as an extended family or community.

Sunday services can include a sermon written by the minister that is delivered to each household. This will be read by the family. Some sermons can be delivered by telephone as well, so everyone can hear the Word of God.

Religious feast days are meant for people to gather together. These social distancing rules have been hard for the Mennonite community to understand, but they would not risk putting the rest of their neighbours in danger by disobeying the law.

They go about their daily business working fields and gardens, tending their animals and hoping that the day will soon come when they can meet with their extended families and friends and worship together as they have done before.



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