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MCC moves toward new vision and structure

Tim Shenk
June 9, 2009

HILLSBORO, Kan. — Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is adopting a revised set of vision and purpose statements and is preparing to restructure its international programs to allow greater involvement and administration by Anabaptist churches around the world.

One new organizational statement defines MCC's identity, purpose, vision, priorities, approaches, values and convictions, while another provides four principles for restructuring MCC into a system of interdependent national or multi-nation agencies.

MCC is redefined as "a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches," which expands upon MCC's longtime definition as a ministry of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in Canada and the United States. Anabaptist churches include Mennonites, Brethren in Christ and other related denominations.

The new vision and structure statements, which were produced by a lengthy discernment process called "New Wine/New Wineskins," emphasize MCC's Christian convictions and its ongoing focus on justice and peace, disaster relief and community development.

The new purpose for MCC's work around the world, including in Canada and the U.S., is "MCC endeavors to share God’s love and compassion for all 'In the Name of Christ' by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice."

According to Arli Klassen, MCC executive director, the revisioning and restructuring process is meant to address a lack of coordination throughout the current system of different MCC organizations. MCC is currently made up of 12 entities with their own boards and executive directors for five Canadian provinces, four U.S. regions, Canadian and U.S. national offices and one binational organization that administers most of MCC's international programs.

According to Klassen, major MCC decisions have required the approval of all 12 MCC boards, and the process has been very cumbersome.

The restructuring is also intended to address dissatisfaction, especially among Canadian supporters of MCC, with the centralization of administration of most of MCC's international programs at MCC's binational office in Akron, Pa., according to Klassen.

One of the new directions for MCC is to transfer the administration of MCC's international programs to MCC Canada and MCC U.S. and to Anabaptist service agencies in other countries. MCC supports the idea of a global forum to explore possibilities for greater coordination with Anabaptist service agencies around the world.

"Our long-term goal and desire is that all programs of MCC would be run and managed by an entity that is within its own region, while being supported by resources that are shared amongst the entire global Anabaptist family," Klassen said.

A new central MCC office would be created to maintain fidelity to MCC's stated identity, purpose and vision throughout a system of interdependent organizations bound by covenanted relationships with each other and with the central office. The central office would replace the current binational MCC organization, and details of its specific role and location have yet to be determined, according to Klassen.

The two statements were prepared at the final summit of the New Wine/New Wineskins process from June 3 to 5 in Hillsboro, Kan. In total, the 18-month process involved more than 2,000 people from 50 countries in discerning God's call for MCC in the 21st century. The summit brought together 96 participants representing MCC boards and Anabaptist denominations.

The statements were then approved by the MCC binational delegate body at its annual meeting in Hillsboro on June 6. The details of MCC's structure will be further developed by MCC's New Wine/New Wineskins Inquiry Task Force in September and submitted to all 12 MCC boards for ratification, along with the statement on MCC's identity and purpose.

Denominations represented on MCC's national and binational governance bodies will also have the opportunity to affirm or object to the statements.

More information on this process is available at mcc.org/newwineskins.