New Wine New Wineskins

The “final” meetings of the New Wine/New Wineskins Inquiry Task Force (ITF) committee were last weekend in Winnipeg. I thought some of you may want to know about it. MCC is trying to deepen existing bonds of connection and respond to world in a new way through modification of its vision, mission, priorities, values, and approaches…as well as its structure. The New Wine/New Wineskins process was a broad consultation to help think through how we do this.

A number of church leaders, former MCC directors, and others invested in this process have expressed concerns around:

· the fragmentation of international program into national entities. How can we maintain (and improve) MCC’s ability to carry out its mission if international program is given to national MCCs?

· denominations not having sufficient representation on the governance of the proposed national MCC entities, nor the central entity.

· The fact that MCCBN and MCCC tensions have not been adequately addressed in order to be able to move forward.

The tensions between MCC Canada and MCC Binational are not new. Some of the tension can be attributed to personalities, cultural differences, and different levels of comfort with regards to use of government funds. Significant historical experiences, such as slavery and racism in the United States, and the aboriginal/immigrant experience in Canada shape people’s lenses and program priorities. It has become clear that these tensions that have developed over the last 30 years need to be addressed.

In related news…It has been decided that Mennonite World Conference (MWC) will convene a global service forum in 2010 to talk about how service agencies around the world can work together and support one another. That is separate from the New Wine/New Wineskins process, but, MWC hopes that this can happen in time to be useful to MCC as it looks at re-organizing its structure.

If you would like a copy of the letter from some young adults who work in MCCBN, simply post your email here and I can get you one.

Please keep MCC in your prayers…If there is not backlash to posting here about some work we are doing in MCC, I can also post what the “results document.”

Comments (2)

  1. ST (Post author)

    MCCC= Mennonite Central Committee in Canada
    MCCBN= Mennonite Central Committee Binacional, which currently runs all internacional programming
    MCCUS= Mennonite Central Committee in the United States

  2. Allan Reesor-McDowell

    I just wanted to follow up to ST’s note about Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and the New Wine, New Wineskins process.

    Since ST’s post was written, a document entitled “Recommendations from September 2009 Inquiry Task Force Meeting” has been posted on MCC’s website that gives further context, and charts a path forward in addressing the concerns that were named. I would encourage each of you to read this.

    MCC relates to what you are about as Young Anabaptist Radicals, and this process is significant for MCC and the broader church community.

    MCC is a radical organization: it is about living out our basic values as Anabaptist Christians, rooted in the teachings of Jesus, Scripture, and in the Anabaptist church community. It is important for the broader Anabaptist community to be aware of and speak into this New Wine, New Wineskins process that is engaging MCC stakeholders in discerning God’s direction for the organization. This in-depth listening and evaluation has been guided by three core questions:
    1. What is the task that God is calling MCC to in the 21st century (purpose)?
    2. To whom is MCC accountable (who is the “keeper of the MCC soul”)?
    3. What is the appropriate structure for ensuring that the values and principles held by MCC are effectively expressed at every level and drive exemplary programming?

    I am on staff with MCC in Ontario and was a member of the Inquiry Task Force charged with listening to the feedback and suggestions of MCC board and staff, church leaders and youth, constituency and partners. After being part of the meetings that ST mentioned in Winnipeg, I believe the concerns that were listed above are being addressed:

    – MCC Canada and the MCC US are moving towards a covenantal relationship that is about unity, not division — working together, not fragmenting program. Though there will be some transition (including how MCC’s international program will be organized) it is clear to me that the changes coming out of the New Wine, New Wineskins process will make the organization more united, not less.

    – The question of US and Canadian denominations having sufficient representation at the governance level is also being addressed. The key here is finding the appropriate balance at the board level of 4 voices: lay leadership, denominational leadership, people with specific expertise to shape policy and best practice, and international and/or partner perspectives so that the voices of those who MCC works alongside are heard at the board table. There are three more rounds of feedback before structural changes are proposed and I am confident that denominational leadership will be satisfied with the strong representation they will have on MCC boards.

    – With regards to MCC Binational and MCC Canada tensions, I would encourage you to read the section on page 7 “A Word About MCC Canada and MCC Binational Relationships” to learn about how MCC is moving forward in dealing with these concerns. In any organization there will be tensions among executives and the board, managers and program staff, colleagues with each other. In the case of MCC, where there are 12 members of one body working together to carry out relief, development and peace around the word, it is no surprise that there are tensions within that body. The New Wine, New Wineskins process has allowed for these issues to be put on the table and discussed with honesty, openness, and humbleness. There is a willingness among MCC leadership to work through these issues in the spirit of being united in Christ. The MCC Binational Board spent a whole evening at its last gathering focusing on this issue and charting a path forward. The new structure of MCC will take into account past tensions, and work to enable and encourage healthy relationships among entities that choose to work together — entities that have chosen to enter a covenantal relationship with one another as members of one body.

    As Anabaptists we sometimes take our church institutions for granted, but much of the work that is done through these institutions “in the name of Christ” is truly radical. At the root of MCC is love of neighbour, caring for the sick, visiting those who are imprisoned, walking with people in poverty, and radically following God’s call to work and live non-violently. Don’t take this for granted. MCC needs your voices as it restructures in order to continue this radical work in the 21st century.

    Please keep MCC in your prayers, as one important part of the ministry of the Anabaptist church in the world.

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