Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan (MCCS)
50 Years of Faith in Action
"What I like about MCC is that I can make blankets, you can serve overseas, others can make wrong things right, and hungry people can get food. And its all done in Christ's name."
A recently retired MCCS worker reminded us that when we share our stories with others, and they with us, we become part of each other. We in fact become one people just like a woven piece of fabric made of various colours and patterns, our lives are forever intertwined.
God's Spirit must have been present and active intertwining lives in the fall and summer of 1920 as four brothers from Russia came to the central states in the United States to plead the case for sisters and brothers starving in the 'homeland'. The outcome was one Mennonite central committee created from various existing relief and migration committees who responded to the request for major support to a famine ridden and violence riddled 'home land'.
This intertwining also happened in 1963 by J.M.Klassen, the first executive secretary of MCC (Canada) and its 28 board members who represented eleven different Mennonite and Brethren in Christ conferences as MCC (Canada) was formed. Two staff were hired, J.M. Klassen and Kathleen Froese as they worked out of two small offices in Winnipeg provided rent-free by the DeFehr family. The primary role in the early years was to develop strong and compatible working relationships with the four provincial MCCs which formed in the next two years, MCC Ontario and with MCC in Akron. This continues to be an important role played by MCC Canada.
In 1964 God's Spirit wove together the Saskatchewan Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches when MCC (Saskatchewan) was created. People from seven different conferences gave birth to MCCS at the 33rd Street Mennonite Brethren Church, Saskatoon. Issac Block chaired the October 28th joint annual general meeting of two church agencies, the Canadian Mennonite Relief and Immigration Council (CMRIC) and Menno Home. CMRIC was ready to fade into history as it transferred its work to MCCS. Mennonite Disaster Service was also included under the umbrella of MCC (Saskatchewan) with financial support from MCC (Canada).
Present at the momentous fall meeting, J.M. Klassen challenged those gathered to "meet the present need in our present age." He pointed out the close relationship between spiritual and physical needs, missions and relief. One offering per month per church of $5.00 per member, Klassen suggested, would go a long way to helping meet the needs of others.
The initial ministries for the new MCCS were thus determined.
Aided by the Spirit's weaving, Fred and Toni Peters found their way to Saskatchewan from Clearbrook, B.C. Toni admitted that she had " never wanted to live on the prairies", but when employment for Fred came to an end in B.C., and they read an ad in the Mennonite Brethren Herald about a job opening for leadership of the newly formed MCCS they experienced this as "an answer to prayer."
God's activity in Fred's life was first experienced many years earlier. Fred as an infant, his parents and three siblings survived the hungry years in the Molotchna region of the Ukraine thanks in part to the "soup kitchens" set up to distribute the donated food stuffs through MCC.
Years later, as a newly married man, he set off for an MCC assignment only three days after he and Toni discovered that Toni was pregnant. Fred reflects, "the 'call' had been definite ... (I) was responding to the will of God for (us)." He served with MCC in England, Holland, and Germany before settling in Canada.
The Peters arrived in Saskatoon in May, 1967 only to be greeted by snow on the ground. Saturday morning they were interviewed and that same afternoon Fred was offered the job of Executive Secretary of MCCS now three years old. The following Monday morning they bought a house which served as both home and MCCS office for the first year.
A short time later, Elmer Neufeld who sat as a board member of MCCS was hired as treasurer and for three months he served in both capacities. In order to keep communications clear, he arranged with Fred that when he approached Fred's desk from the front, he was coming in his role as board member. And when he came from the side, he was coming as a staff person.
Some constituents were concerned that MCCS money should be sent overseas to respond to human need instead of hiring more office staff. Others saw the need to hire competent staff who would administer the charitable donations of donors so that it would reach those in need. This debate in various manifestations continues on until the present day.
Ongoing work of MCCS
This year, 2014, we are celebrating MCCS 50 years of faith in action. Come and help us celebrate God's work through MCCS. We are anticipating monthly celebrations to remember and give thanks. Below is the year's schedule. Please watch for bulletin announcements of times and venues of each celebration. Events are open the public unless stated otherwise.
See growing index of submitted stories HERE .
Schedule of MCCS 50th Anniversary Celebrations during 2014
Report: Celebrate Exchange!
March - Canadian Foodgrains Bank - Osler.
April - Ten Thousand Villages/SELFHELP
Report: Beginnings of Self Help Crafts (Ten Thousand Villages) in Sask (The Irma Balzer story told by her daughters, Monica Dalke and Rita MacDonald).
May - Restorative Justice Anniversary Celebration - Prince Albert, May 4 @ 3:00 - 6:00 pm, at Grace Mennonite Church, Prince Albert. Sk.
Profile: One of the Least of These - Mike
June - Relief Sale - Saskatoon. June 14 @ 9:30 am, Relief Sale Anniversary celebration at Prairieland Park, Saskatoon.
July - Refugee Assistance - July 13 from 2:30 - 5:00 pm Refugee Assistance Anniverary celebrations in Grace Mennonite, Regina.
August - Aboriginal Neighbours Programme (Historical overview) - August 17, Indigenous Work Anniversary celebration at Prince Albert/Spruce Home.
September - Governance - September 13 at 2:30 p.m. Governance Celebration at the MCCS Centre, 600 - 45 th Street West, Saskatoon. Come and meet former staff members, board chairs and board members. Learn about MCCS programs that have been discontinued and/or graduated to stand on their own. Join us for story telling and refreshments.
October - Peace Education - MCC Centre - October 3, @ 7:00 pm, Peace and Justice Anniversary celebration/coffee house at MCC, Saskatoon.
November 1 - Encounter and AGM at Cornerstone Church.
November 19 - MCC Day - meet me at the Leg! (lejjj)
December 4 - Material Resources Anniversary celebration December 4 at 7:00 pm. at Mount Royal Mennonite Church, Saskatoon.
Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS)
Room 900 - 110 La Ronge Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7K 7H8
Archive Hours: Monday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. Wednesday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. & 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.