In recognition of Mennonite Central Committee’s 100 years of ministry around the world, Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace recently signed a document to proclaim Saturday as MCC Day in the City of Lancaster.
The date was originally chosen to coincide with a national celebration of MCC’s centennial that was to be held locally. But that celebration has instead been pushed back to Oct. 17 due to COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of a yearlong celebration to mark MCC’s 100 years.
As reported by LNP|LancasterOnline earlier this year, the organization formed in 1920 when the Russian Revolution and famine led to Mennonites living in southern Russia (present-day Ukraine) sending a letter to Mennonites in the United States asking for help. The letter found its way to Orie Miller, a Goshen College graduate living in Akron.
The letter sparked the beginning of Mennonite Central Committee – a nongovernmental worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches that responds to basic human needs and works for peace and justice.
Today, MCC employs nearly 1,200 people and has a budget in excess of $82 million. It has offices in Akron and Ephrata and operates in more than 50 countries worldwide on projects that range from humanitarian disaster relief to developing sustainable communities “in the name of Christ.”
MCC Day coincides with World Refugee Day, as declared by the United Nations Refugee Agency.
As reported by LNP|LancasterOnline reporter Jeff Hawkes earlier this week, resettlement peaked in Lancaster County at 407 newcomers in 2016, or 20 times more per capita than the rest of the country, prompting the BBC to call Lancaster “the refugee capital of America.”
This ties in with the work that MCC has done in the past and is doing in the present.
After World War II, MCC helped resettle Russian refugees in Paraguay. After the Vietnam War, the organization helped resettle about 5,000 refugees from southeast Asia in the United States and Canada. Some of those refugees still live in Lancaster.
More recently, MCC has distributed hygiene products to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among refugees and displaced people in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.
Some of those products may have come through donations from residents in Lancaster city.
“We deeply respect all of the ways that the city of Lancaster and MCC add value to each other’s missions to build just and thriving communities,” MCC East Coast executive director Bruce Campbell-Janz said in a news release.
Campbell-Janz is a Lancaster Township resident.
“MCC’s work benefits from the support and engagement of the vibrant, diverse city of Lancaster,” Campbell-Janz said. “We’re pleased to be doing this work together.”