Top photo: Participants in LMC congregation Mellinger Mennonite Church’s Sewing Circle, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, knot comforters for MCC in 1969. MCC photo/David Stoner
MCC is grateful for the active participation and support of all its sponsoring denominations. This article focuses on MCC and LMC – a fellowship of Anabaptist churches.
From the window of her Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, farmhouse, Miriam Charles saw the Ukrainian family arrive. It was June 1950. Pawlo and Maria Koroczynskyj had just immigrated from a displaced persons camp in Germany with their two small daughters. Charles and her husband Arthur had volunteered to host the family through Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). For the next five months, the Charles family and their LMC congregation, Chestnut Hill Mennonite Church, did their best to make their guests feel at home. “The church community responded warmly to the ‘strangers in our midst’ with clothing, food and invitations to their homes,” said Charles.1
Though nearly impossible to count the ways LMC has partnered with MCC over the last 100 years, their shared goal has always been a simple one: to embody Jesus to people in need through practical, compassionate acts of service. LMC and MCC have been closely connected since MCC’s inception. Orie O. Miller, a founder of MCC, was a member of LMC congregation Ephrata Mennonite Church (now Alive Church). Miller served as executive secretary of MCC and, simultaneously, LMC’s Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) for more than 20 years until 1958.
MCC was formed when representatives of various Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren groups met in July 1920 in Elkhart, Indiana, and pledged to aid hungry people, including Mennonites in southern Russia (present-day Ukraine). Moved to help, LMC and MCC tackled different facets of the crisis. MCC workers opened 140 food kitchens, supported by generous financial gifts, including from LMC congregations and church members. Meanwhile, LMC called on its congregations to help resettle at least 138 Russian Mennonite refugees who immigrated to the Lancaster area.2
Over the decades, EMM and MCC cooperated to identify needs in regions new to them and send workers. EMM and MCC workers entered locations including Vietnam in the 1950s and Hong Kong in the 1960s, where they sometimes served side by side. In the U.S., LMC churches and members coordinated relief sales, volunteered at MCC Thrift shops, and, like Miriam Charles, joined Christ’s global work through MCC however they were able.
Today, LMC and MCC advance their legacy of compassionate, practical service in old ways and new. They advocate for marginalized people through initiatives such as the New York Mennonite Immigration Program, where MCC partners with LMC and other churches to provide legal help to immigrants. After a century, LMC’s partnership with MCC may take new forms – but the same spirit of practical compassion in Jesus’ name is always there.
Read more church denomination stories from the MCC at 100 collection:
- Mennonite Church USA – integral part of MCC from the beginning
- CMC – a passion for service
- Brethren in Christ U.S. – partners with MCC for 70 years
- Mennonite Brethren – a pillar of MCC
Visit mcc.org/centennial(link is external) to learn more about MCC’s year-long centennial celebration.
Emily Jones is a freelance writer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
1 Miriam Charles, My Offering of Thanks, self-published, 2006, pp. 124-126.
2 John Landis Ruth, The Earth Is the Lord’s, Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2001, p. 884.