MCC East Coast Report
This was an exciting meeting for me because it was my first meeting as an MCC East Coast board member. Of course, there are MCC boards in the other regions of the US (MCC Central States, MCC Great Lakes, and MCC West Coast) but as you might expect since more Mennonites live out here in the east, the MCC East Coast board tends to have the largest financial resources by a significant margin.
This first meeting was in Hialeah, Florida (near Miami)
I was blessed to get the opportunity to room with the MCC East Coast Board Chair, Jim Shenk, and as you might expect he was a wealth of information.
The Miami Area weekend:
- The first day in South Florida was a learning-tour day.
- We visited Liberty City which is one of the poorer parts of the city of Miami. This is a largely Haitian neighborhood. We also visited a small office near Miami that handled legal cases for immigrants. Andrew Bodden with his very tiny Miami-area staff addresses questions people might have concerning immigration. [A picture has been provided of Andrew Bodden sitting behind his desk and speaking with MCC East Board member Maren Tyedmers Hange of the Virginia Mennonite Conference (on the left)]. The lawyer, Rachel Diaz, who handles some of the legal matters there is Miami that are associated with immigration was set to work 10 hours/week, but her hours are being moved up to 20 hours/week to reflect reality of the heavy caseloads she has been handling (and even at this new number of hours, she is being pressed for support the exceeds these hours, as well. This is clearly a labor of love for Ms. Diaz.).
- MCC East Board is very active in the area of immigration and has immigration support in New York City as well through the New York Mennonite Immigration Program (NYMIP) which is a partnership between the New York City Council of Mennonite Churches (NYCCMC) and MCC-East Coast..
- Went to a church Amor Viviente (living love) in Ft. Lauderdale. The church is made up of a large number of cell groups that keep expanding as members invite more to join. The cell groups meet in homes for Bible study during the week. The cell groups meet on Sunday at the church.
- There were discussions on the problems of immigrants in legal matters. Andrew Bodden, Rachel Diaz (lawyer), and Saulo Padilla all spoke of problems of life as an immigrant.
- Went to a church named Casa Del Dios Viviente to hear reports of a youth learning-tour to Pennsylvania as they visited Crossroads and the MRC. The youth stated that these experiences in Pennsylvania were life-changing and they also stated that they would like to go on another learning-tour there at some future date and they are raising money to do so.
- The people of the church provided the lunch at Amor Viviente and the people of Casa Del Dios provided dinner.
March 6 & 7
This was a full day of business that had greetings for the new members (myself and 2 college students). The college students helped give a greater diversity in an already very diverse group of board members. However, in the small group discussions I felt this is where the students were really able to shine, and they seemed more comfortable there.
When I say the MCC East Coast board is diverse I mean to say that this is done very intentionally. The basic composition of this Anabaptist board has diversity at the heart. There are a number of different groups and church denominations that comprise the MCC East Coast board: Beachy Amish, Brethren In Christ Church, Conservative Mennonite Conference, Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, US Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and various conferences of MCUSA.
The MCC is there in relief efforts around the world, food and water assistance, health, education, peace and justice, and migration. More specifically, the work of MCC you are very familiar with: The canner at the MRC, quilts, school kits that are sent to various countries, and My Coins Count (the old Penny Power program). [Of course, the name for Penny Power was changed because Canada no longer uses the penny.]
[Pictures were provided of school kit and quilt work at the MRC.]
MCC would also like to thank everyone for your generous support for the people of Nepal after the earthquake disaster there.
MCC East Coast Board Member
The Fall Philadelphia Board meetings (09-10 October)