Kyle Penner, Pastor, Grace Mennonite Church, Steinbach

Kyle Penner, Pastor, Grace Mennonite Church, Steinbach

If you were to ask me to summarize what Mennonites believe, I’d give you 3 quick answers:  Jesus is the centre of our faith; community is the centre of our life; and, peace and reconciliation is the centre of our work. 

COVID-19 has made the second one incredibly challenging. How do you value community when the very act of being together poses a risk? How do you celebrate baptisms and child dedications while keeping 6 feet apart? How do you enjoy potlucks in the church basement with a mask on? How do you sing in church when it’s not recommended? How do you offer care and support to grieving families at a funeral when so few people can be in attendance?  

We Mennonites place a remarkably high value on community, on being together, on loving each other, and we dearly miss being together as a faith community. 

So when I became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, it wasn’t a difficult decision for me. Getting my vaccine is a way for me to show love to my neighbour. By slowing the spread of COVID, I’m helping to keep my community safe. I’m also helping out our tired health care staff, helping our children stay in school, and ensuring that local organizations can thrive. 

I received my first shot at the Super-Site in Steinbach, and I plan to get my second shot there as well. The process to get the vaccine was seamless and easy. I was in and out quickly, and the clinic was filled with friendly staff from my church whom I know. The only side effect I had was a sore arm for a day. Also, I’m grateful that all of my grandparents, parents, and siblings received their shots as soon as they were eligible as well – and that’s a whole lot of Penner’s, Enns’, Braun’s, plus a few French Saurettes too! 

I know there are many of us who are hesitant to get the vaccine. I’d encourage you to please talk to your doctor. We trust them with so much of our lives, we can trust them with this one too. 

Also, the sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to the things that are important to us as churches:  baptisms, communion, sharing potlucks and singing together. My church just bought new hymnals and we can’t wait to sing through it as a congregation – so let’s go!

Once this pandemic is over, I want us to remember that it is okay to slow down, to pray as we light candles for the world, and to remember how hard we all worked during the pandemic to love our neighbours and care for the vulnerable.

Kyle Penner – Grace Mennonite Church

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Additional Resources

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine from official sources.