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MCC plans for global change

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Mennonite Central Committee is changing how it does its work, but not the work itself. That’s how Arli Klassen, MCC executive director, described MCC’s process of streamlining and shifting areas of responsibility among its member organizations at the June 11–12 meeting of MCC’s binational delegate body.

Since January, a joint board team – with representatives from the MCC U.S., Canada, and binational boards – has been providing overall leadership to design and transition teams that are proposing changes for the New Wineskins process. (Consultations involving more than 2,000 people from 50 countries finished in June 2009.)

The teams are receiving feedback and will seek full approval in 2011 from all the boards for proposed changes. MCC expects most major changes to happen in 2012.

Meaning of global

Proposals suggest the council’s board would be composed of three people from MCC Canada, three from MCC U.S., three from Mennonite World Conference, and two members at large. In the midst of these changes, MCC is looking at what it means to be global beyond the fact that it works in 60 countries.

MCC is one of 30 service agencies participating in the Global Anabaptist Service Consultation Aug. 6–9 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event will explore the level of interest in developing a global service forum, network, or other entity of MWC member churches and related groups.

Pakisa Tshimika, MWC global church advocate, who is coordinating the consultation, said that no single entity is asking others to join it, but that the consultation will be a chance for MCC to have more global input in how it is governed.

“MCC is on a journey of how they listen to the rest of the world, but it’s becoming more than just listening,” said Tshimika.

Anabaptists from around the world increasingly participate in funding MCC’s work: MCC had a considerable increase in the past year in donations from countries outside Canada and the United States without fundraising for that money. For example, $1,300 for work in Haiti came from 14 Brethren in Christ congregations in Zimbabwe.

Link to denominations

In planning for change, MCC is also looking at its connection to denominations in North America. “We are serving in the name of Christ as an arm of the church,” Klassen said. “We want to continue to remain connected to as many of the diverse Mennonite groups as we can.”

Theological diversity among those denominations has raised concerns for some. Members of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church of Manitoba have expressed concerns to MCC in recent months about theological issues.

“They relate specifically to MCC’s interfaith bridgebuilding and the perceived implications of that,” said Don Peters, MCC Canada executive director.

MCC’s theology is the theology of the churches participating in it, Peters said. MCC adopted MWC’s “Shared Convictions” as its faith statement.

“It doesn’t answer the question, ‘Is Jesus the only way?’” Peters said. “What it does say is Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Saviour. Jesus is reconciler, and we as Christians are agents of the reconciler and agents of reconciliation as we witness to Jesus.”

Celeste Kennel-Shank, assistant editor of the Mennonite Weekly Review, for Meetinghouse

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