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David Wenger (left), New York, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) East Coast Board member, and Leonard Dow, pastor of Oxford Circle Mennonite Church, Philadelphia, at the MCC East Coast open house celebration in Philadelphia. Dale Miller

David Wenger (left), New York, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) East Coast Board member, and Leonard Dow, pastor of Oxford Circle Mennonite Church, Philadelphia, at the MCC East Coast open house celebration in Philadelphia. Dale Miller

MCC East Coast office move deepens connections with urban church

Cathryn Clinton
March 16, 2009

PHILADELPHIA – On March 6, about 100 people celebrated the move of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) East Coast regional office to Philadelphia from Akron, Pa.

The new office is in the Oxford Circle area of northeast Philadelphia in a building purchased by Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association. The building already has several tenants and will eventually house other offices as well as an expanded worship space for Oxford Circle Mennonite Church.

Leonard Dow, Oxford Circle pastor and vice chairperson of the MCC U.S. Board said, "The move of MCC East Coast regional office to Philadelphia is a significant movement from seeing the urban communities as mission destinations or receivers, to seeing urban congregations as assets to the broader church, or mission senders."

Dow emphasized that placing the office in the midst of urban churches increases their ability to not only minister to their own communities but also to share their gifts of people and resources with the broader church. It also allows urban congregations who have not been a part of the traditional church-wide networks to share in their mission and service opportunities.

East Coast Executive Board Member Darryl Wallace, pastor of Second Mennonite Church in Philadelphia, echoed Dow's belief that this move will build the capacity of MCC East Coast as urban churches are part of its decision-making process. He said decisions will be influenced by the early Anabaptist values of justice and peace because these issues are immediate and real in the city. He described urban areas as "energy centers."

Dow said that he hoped the synergy between East Coast and the urban areas will create momentum for risk-taking by the broader church.

MCC East Coast, one of four regional MCC offices in the United States, serves the area from Maine to Florida as well as Puerto Rico. MCC East Coast connects with more than 100,000 constituents in more than 1,000 congregations in the region. In addition to the Philadelphia office, MCC East Coast staff are also present in other parts of Pennsylvania, New York City, Washington, D.C., Florida, Alabama and Puerto Rico.

As Fred Kauffman, MCC East Coast program coordinator at the Philadelphia service unit said, "We can create opportunities for rural, suburban and urban churches to meet together."