MCC Photo/ Mark Neufeld

Many people have come to this community in Colombia after being displaced by the armed conflict.

AKRON, Pa. – In January 2009, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) will launch the Seed program, a two-year program for young adults aged 20-30. The program, composed of international teams, will focus on the components of service, reflection and advocacy. It will begin in Colombia, and then expand to other locations.

Eight to 10 young adults from Canada, the United States, Colombia and other Latin American countries will learn together. As people of faith, they will analyze the Colombian context of social and armed conflict, serve in practical ways through local church programs and begin discerning the roles and ways they can transform society and use advocacy in their home communities and beyond.

The program development and vision have been a collaborative process with IMCOL, the Mennonite Church of Colombia, the Mennonite Brethren Church and the Brethren in Christ Church in Colombia. The program seeks to meet the needs of the Colombian church by connecting young adults from North, Central and South America with the Colombian churches' work of peace and justice in the midst of violence and poverty.

The reflection component will begin in Colombia with three months of studying language, cultural orientation, global economics, development, peace-building and theology. There will be regular workshops and seminars during the participants' time of service, so that they can integrate what they are learning with the macro issues of policy, lifestyle and economics in their own home communities.

The participants will individually go to diverse locations in Colombia. They will work with local Anabaptist churches to facilitate their programs for the community. The goal of this time is walking and serving alongside communities that struggle for peace and justice in the midst of difficult situations.

They will have a final two-week session designed specifically to explore advocacy tools in order to communicate and invite others to work alongside the Colombian church.

Daniel Leonard, program coordinator, says, "This is just another piece of the strategy as we continue our work in both advocacy and service – which is speaking from within the communities we are serving in hopes of increasing our capacity to connect large structural issues with people who we have real and authentic relationships with. It is our hope that in doing this we will have greater understanding of how we are connected globally and how we can be better connected."

MCC is exploring expanding the Seed program to the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as locations in the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean. These programs will be encouraged to coordinate communication and information with one another, creating a global network.

Any questions about the Seed program can be directed to Daniel Leonard at drl@mcc.org.

Cathryn Clinton is a writer for Mennonite Central Committee.