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Participants took part in a New Wine/New Wineskins summit in Accra, Ghana.  Holding signs, from left, are Phil Rich, Mawangu Biavula Ibanda and Athanasius Depul. Mennonite Central Committee

Participants took part in a New Wine/New Wineskins summit in Accra, Ghana. Holding signs, from left, are Phil Rich, Mawangu Biavula Ibanda and Athanasius Depul. Mennonite Central Committee

MCC considers new vision, structure

Tim Shenk
May 8, 2009

AKRON, Pa. — Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is considering major organizational changes in order to work more closely with Anabaptist churches around the world in peace-building, development and relief.

MCC is nearing the end of an 18-month process, called "New Wine/New Wineskins," that has involved several thousand people worldwide in discerning God's call for MCC in the 21st century. The process has created recommendations for a new vision, organizational structure and global service forum.

About 100 participants will gather for a final summit in Hillsboro, Kan., from June 3 to 5 to debate, revise and approve recommendations for MCC's vision and structure. The summit results will then be submitted for ratification by 12 MCC boards representing regional, national and binational offices in Canada and the U.S.

The proposed statement of common purpose defines MCC as "a ministry of Anabaptist churches worldwide participating in God's work of reconciliation." Justice and peace-building, sustainable development and disaster response and prevention are proposed as mission priorities. Anabaptist churches include Mennonites, Brethren in Christ and other related denominations.

The proposed structure moves MCC from being a Canadian and U.S. organization to a global entity, according to Arli Klassen, MCC executive director. A new, central MCC office would administer and be a resource to the entire system of MCC organizations. Programmatic work around the world, including in Canada and the U.S., would be the responsibility of MCC Canada, MCC U.S. and new MCC organizations accountable to Anabaptist churches in other countries.

The recommendations also call for Mennonite World Conference to lead a process that may result in a forum of global Anabaptist service agencies, of which MCC would be a member.

The recommendations do not include where the central MCC office might be located but it is likely that it would not be in Akron, Pa., where MCC U.S. is based and where MCC's international operations have largely been headquartered, Klassen said.

Klassen emphasizes that MCC is committed to continuing its work in the name of Christ and to maintaining the trust of its donors, partner organizations and constituent churches.

"Underlying all of this, in order to make this successful, is trust," Klassen said. "We need to trust that God is present in the middle of this process to strengthen MCC as a ministry of the global church."

The New Wine/New Wineskins recommendations are available online at mcc.org/newwineskins.