Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in the U.S. is inviting its supporters and the public to join a live streamed celebration of its 100 years of ministry Saturday, Oct. 17, starting at 6:50 p.m. (EDT). Celebration 2020: MCC at 100 will include videos, storytelling, music and a message of inspiration from longtime MCC leader and pastor Leonard Dow of Philadelphia.
This live streamed event replaces an in-person, multi-day celebration that was originally scheduled for June 2020 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. That event was postponed until Oct. 17 due to the pandemic and is now a live streamed service only.
Participants can join the celebration at mcc.org/celebration-2020. Video recordings of the event, subtitled in English and Spanish, will be posted at the same link a few days after the event.
As the keynote speaker, Dow will reflect on the challenges MCC has experienced over the past 100 years and the strengths God developed in the organization as a result. With inspiration from Scripture, he will encourage MCC to use its best self to step boldly into the next century of ministry.
“MCC at its best,” Dow says, “has a prophetic imagination. We are patiently persistent, and we have a willingness to get into ‘necessary trouble’ as we respond to basic human needs and work for peace and justice.”
As a former MCC staff member and board leader, Dow says he has seen MCC carrying out its mission of reconciliation by addressing mass incarceration in Philadelphia, racial inequity in South Africa and poverty in Haiti, among other endeavors. Step by step MCC has accompanied families and communities as they move toward a new life.
Dow currently serves as a stewardship and development specialist with Everence Financial.
MCC began in 1920 when groups of Mennonites and Mennonite Brethren formed a committee to provide food and other assistance to people affected by war and famine in southern Russia, present-day Ukraine.
Today MCC provides humanitarian relief, encourages sustainable development and strengthens peacebuilding initiatives in more than 50 countries.
The October celebration also will include stories of MCC’s history told by storyteller Ken Sensenig, who is assistant director of MCC East Coast. Marcella Hostetler of Lancaster, who taught music in schools and directed music in churches for 30 years, is coordinating musical performances for the event in cooperation with a variety of talented musicians.
To coincide with the celebration, MCC is inviting congregations to take a special offering, mcc.org/centennial/offering, to support MCC’s ministry. The suggested timing for the offering is Sunday, Oct. 4, or Sunday, Oct. 11, but congregations are welcome to plan offerings at their convenience.
“Throughout MCC’s 100 years, MCC’s staff and partners have had to be creative and resourceful in spite of challenges they encountered,” says J Ron Byler, MCC U.S. executive director. “This year has been no different, as we not only adjust the way we celebrate but how we and our partners meet people’s needs in the midst of the coronavirus.”
Byler concludes his MCC leadership role on Oct. 17, and Ann Graber Hershberger, the incoming executive director, will be acknowledged and receive a blessing at the event.
Byler continues, “But God has been faithful over all these years, helping us and guiding us as we share God’s love and compassion in the name of Christ in the midst of crises. And for that we are very thankful. Please join us in celebrating 100 years of God at work through MCC.”
MCC is grateful to Everence Financial for sponsorship support of its centennial celebration.
Learn more and sign up for a calendar reminder at mcc.org/celebration-2020.
By Linda Espenshade