“Happy Birthday MCC!!”, grinned partners on a screen from around the world, as a room of over 200 people came together in Reedley, California to celebrate Mennonite Central Committee’s Centennial year. At Reedley Mennonite Brethren Church, in a fellowship hall with quilts hanging from the rafters and live Flamenco music playing, staff and supporters of MCC West Coast shared a meal together while reflecting on the past 100 years of life and service.
After a time of welcome and introductions, the evening program began with a showing of the video MCC is 100, giving an overview of the history of the organization and its humble beginnings. While MCC currently works with 453 partners in 53 different countries, the organization first began in 1920 in Soviet Russia, when Anabaptists in Canada and the United States heard the call of Christ to respond to the great suffering of the time in compassion and love.This partnership gave birth to what is now celebrated as MCC, with the mission to see communities reconciled to God, one another and creation.
With its commitment to relief, development and peace in the name of Christ, MCC has impacted people's lives around the globe and across generations in remarkable ways. One of the evening's speakers, former West Coast Executive Director Stephen Penner, reflected on how MCC has become a deep part of who he is.
He shared, “MCC has been critical in shaping my understanding of what it means to be an Anabaptist Christian and a citizen of the world.” Not only has his serving with the organization forever played a significant role in his life, but his family’s as well, beginning with his grandfather and continuing with his two sons who have also served with MCC.
Along with meeting basic needs, responding to disasters, and caring for displaced people, MCC has pioneered what today is known as fair trade and started a chain of thrift shops across the U.S. and Canada. Through its advocacy work, MCC amplifies the voices of its partners, and follows Christ’s call to welcome newcomers by supporting immigration law trainings and providing legal aid and hospitality for those seeking asylum.
The evening's celebration included a time when Miriam Aleman, a former MCC staff worker shared a powerful story of her experience working in the West Coast Office's immigration program.
Nate Yoder current director of West Coast MCC reflected on how he was struck with the different immigrant stories he heard during the evening celebration. He stated, "Russian Mennonites spoke of challenge and struggle, but then a warm reception in the U.S. The Hispanic story never experienced the same warm welcome. This contrast challenges me to see how we can change that story going forward."
MCC reminds me that in the midst of division and trouble in our world, there are still many who believe in the biblical vision of shalom, love and joy.
It is MCC’S strong and lasting conviction that to build a better world, we must start with peace. These last 100 years of love and service have borne much fruit in the midst of great hardship and they are a glimpse of the hope and light of Christ reflected in the global community.
Yoder said, "When I think about the thousands of lives impacted by the ministry of MCC over 100 years, it is inspiring, humbling, and amazing....MCC reminds me that in the midst of division and trouble in our world, there are still many who believe in the biblical vision of shalom, love and joy..." This is the great beauty of Mennonite Central Committee that was celebrated with an evening of laughter and tears, and it is a legacy that will continue for many years to come.
You can celebrate with us and help MCC in the next 100 years of service by giving to New Hope in the Name of Christ centennial campaign.