Paul Heidebrecht has recently been appointed the new director for MCC’s office in Ottawa. Monica Scheifele
MCC names new director for Ottawa office
August 18, 2009
WINNIPEG, Man.--Paul Heidebrecht of southern Ontario has been appointed director of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada’s Ottawa office.
Heidebrecht comes to MCC Ottawa from Marquette University in Wisconsin where he studied and taught theological ethics. He has held leadership positions in the automotive industry, helped lead a new church in Milwaukee, and is an engineer by trade.
In his new role with MCC, Heidebrecht will be responsible for acting as a liaison between MCC’s work around the world and the Canadian government, as well as working alongside partner organizations based in Ottawa to advocate for change.
“I am very excited to see the new directions in which Paul will take MCC’s work in Ottawa. He brings a fresh set of skills and a rich variety of experiences to the job,” says Lois Coleman Neufeld, MCC Canada’s Director of National programs.
“Paul’s theological background makes him well-suited to interpreting what the government is saying from an Anabaptist perspective,” she adds.
As an undergraduate in sciences, Heidebrecht studied at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo.
He holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Marquette University, and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana.
Heidebrecht, who served short-term assignments with MCC in Bangladesh in 1993 and in Nigeria in 2001, is delighted to return to MCC.
The special gift of MCC, he says, “is that it is an organization committed to working alongside and listening to, neighbours who are near and far. This gives MCC a unique perspective from which to advocate politically for change.”
The purpose of MCC’s Ottawa office is to help with the governmental aspects of MCC’s programs, both nationally and internationally.
MCC Ottawa monitors what policies the Canadian government is working on, and analyzes how they fit in with Anabaptist/Mennonite belief, either affirming or challenging them.
Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, fair mining practices, and the situation in Israel/Palestine are examples of prominent situations that MCC Ottawa is monitoring.
As a Mennonite choosing to engage political decision-makers, Heidebrecht is faced with a number of unique challenges but he remains focused on the end goal.
“Success does not necessarily mean seeing political change,” he says. “Success is in knowing that we have followed the call to be faithful witnesses.”
MCC Ottawa was established in 1975. The first director, Bill Janzen, retired in 2008 after 33 years of service.
Heidebrecht is married to Carmen Brubacher and the couple have four children.