MCC to livestream its national centennial celebration Oct. 17

The mood was jovial as former MCC U.S. board member Leonard Dow, left, helped pack prisoner care kits in 2017 at the MCC East Coast Material Resources Center in Ephrata, Pa. Dow, other MCC U.S. board members and MCC staff, including MCC U.S. executive director J Ron Byler, right foreground, packed 100 kits of personal items for people who were incarcerated or who were participating in re-entry ministries after leaving prison in the greater Philadelphia area. — Jill Steinmetz/MCC The mood was jovial as former MCC U.S. board member Leonard Dow, left, helped pack prisoner care kits in 2017 at the MCC East Coast Material Resources Center in Ephrata, Pa. Dow, other MCC U.S. board members and MCC staff, including MCC U.S. executive director J Ron Byler, right foreground, packed 100 kits of personal items for people who were incarcerated or who were participating in re-entry ministries after leaving prison in the greater Philadelphia area. — Jill Steinmetz/MCC

Mennonite Central Committee in the United States is inviting its supporters and the public to join a live­streamed celebration of its 100 years of ministry at 6:50 p.m. EDT Oct. 17.

“Celebration 2020: MCC at 100” will include videos, storytelling, music and a message of inspiration from longtime MCC leader and pastor Leonard Dow of Philadelphia.

The livestreamed event replaces an in-person, multiday celebration originally scheduled for June in Lancaster County, Pa. That event was postponed due to the pandemic and is now a livestreamed service only.

Participants can join the celebration at mcc.org/celebration-2020. Video recordings of the event, subtitled in English and Spanish, will be posted at the same link a few days after the event.

Ann Graber Hershberger and MCC U.S. board member Sunoko Lin (back) of Lake Balboa, Calif., helped to pack boxes of prisoner care kits in 2017 at the MCC East Coast Material Resources Center in Ephrata, Pa. Hershberger will be acknowledged and blessed as the next MCC U.S. executive director at “Celebration 2020: MCC at 100” Oct. 17. — Jill Steinmetz/MCC
Ann Graber Hershberger and MCC U.S. board member Sunoko Lin (back) of Lake Balboa, Calif., helped to pack boxes of prisoner care kits in 2017 at the MCC East Coast Material Resources Center in Ephrata, Pa. Hershberger will be acknowledged and blessed as the next MCC U.S. executive director at “Celebration 2020: MCC at 100” Oct. 17. — Jill Steinmetz/MCC

As the keynote speaker, Dow will reflect on the challenges MCC has experienced over the past 100 years and the strengths God developed in the organization as a result. With inspiration from Scripture, he will encourage MCC to use its best self to step boldly into the next century of ministry.

“MCC at its best has a prophetic imagination,” Dow said. “We are patiently persistent, and we have a willingness to get into ‘necessary trouble’ as we respond to basic human needs and work for peace and justice.”

As a former MCC staff member and board leader, Dow says he has seen MCC carrying out its mission of reconciliation by addressing mass incarceration in Philadelphia, racial inequity in South Africa and poverty in Haiti, among other endeavors. Step by step MCC has accompanied families and communities as they move toward a new life.

Dow is as a stewardship and development specialist with Everence Financial.

MCC began in 1920 when Mennonites formed a committee to provide food and other assistance to people affected by war and famine in southern Russia (present-day Ukraine).

Today MCC provides humanitarian relief, encourages sustainable development and strengthens peacebuilding initiatives in more than 50 countries.

The October celebration also will include stories of MCC’s history told by storyteller Ken Sensenig, assistant director of MCC East Coast.

Marcella Hostetler of Lancaster, who taught music in schools and directed music in churches for 30 years, is coordinating musical performances.

To coincide with the celebration, MCC is inviting congregations to take a special offering, mcc.org/centennial/offering, to support MCC’s ministry. The suggested timing for the offering is Oct. 4 or Oct. 11, but congregations are welcome to plan offerings at their convenience.

At MCC’s centennial celebration Oct. 17, J Ron Byler will be recognized for his 10 years of service as executive director of MCC U.S., and Ann Graber Hershberger will receive a blessing as the next MCC U.S. executive director. — Brenda Burkholder/MCC
At MCC’s centennial celebration Oct. 17, J Ron Byler will be recognized for his 10 years of service as executive director of MCC U.S., and Ann Graber Hershberger will receive a blessing as the next MCC U.S. executive director. — Brenda Burkholder/MCC

“Throughout MCC’s 100 years, MCC’s staff and partners have had to be creative and resourceful in spite of challenges they encountered,” said J Ron Byler, MCC U.S. executive director. “This year has been no different, as we not only adjust the way we celebrate but how we and our partners meet people’s needs in the midst of the coronavirus.”

Byler concludes his MCC leadership role on Oct. 17, and Ann Graber Hershberger, the incoming executive director, will be acknowledged and receive a blessing at the event.

“God has been faithful over all these years, helping us and guiding us as we share God’s love and compassion in the name of Christ in the midst of crises,” Byler said. “And for that we are very thankful. Please join us in celebrating 100 years of God at work through MCC.”

Everence Financial is providing sponsorship support of the centennial celebration.

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