Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC

By staff writers
July 9, 2006

Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC

-09/07/06

Mennonite Christians in Washington DC ñ members of one of the historic peace churches ñ are expanding their shared commitment to social justice, pastoral action and nonviolent witness as a result of a finance and property move by the aid agency Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

With a smaller number of service workers coming from outside the community, MCC has been able to sell the large house where volunteers used to live and instead put the proceeds toward purchasing a smaller home for workers near two Anabaptist churches.

At the same time it has purchased a new office which will be run with a number of other agencies, from where national advocacy work impacting decision-makers and NGOs will continue.

In the latter part of 2006, service workers and local workers will be added to the Mennonite service programme in the US capital. A group of local church leaders was asked to identify fresh priorities.

As a result, work will be developed to address nonviolence, education, homelessness, offender reintegration and immigration, said Rebecca Knight, who is starting as coordinator for the Washington DC service programme.

"I am excited about the opportunities for an expanded service and peace witness in our nation's capital and about the spirit of collaboration among local Anabaptist churches and agencies," said Rolando Santiago, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee USA.

MCC is known worldwide for its peace and development work, and for its ability to build bridges between Christian and other faith communities because of its commitment to Gospel-based nonviolence.

The Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office, which had six workers in a small space before, is now spreading into a building that will be shared with two MCC East Coast workers.

Eastern Mennonite University's Centre for Justice and Peacebuilding will rent space there too, as will the Anabaptist Peace Center.

"What that will do is create a kind of synergy and interaction among these Anabaptist groups who are all doing peace-building, just with a little different focus," said J. Daryl Byler, director of the Washington Office. "Hopefully we'll be able to build on each other's ideas.î

The MCC Washington Office will have a time of dedication and run an open house on the afternoon of 14 2006.

Byler noted that in addition to giving space for additional organizations to work in the building, there is also more space for Washington Office staff to meet with Anabaptists from Washington or from across the country.

"My main hope is that having this facility and a little more space will just strengthen the Anabaptist witness on Capitol Hill at a time when it seems that witness is desperately needed," he explained.

MCC first opened an office on Capitol Hill in 1968. Donors from nearly 40 states contributed some 150,000 US dollars for the new arrangements. "The support was really broad-based and generous," Daryl Byler says.

[Also on Ekklesia: Mennonites concerned and active over Gaza 03/07/06; Mennonites work with soldiers who turn their backs on war 26/06/06; European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God 22/06/06; Christian peacemakers stay committed to Iraq 19/06/06; Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment 13/06/06; Christian peace worker says al-Zarqawi death will not halt violence 09/06/06]

Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC

-09/07/06

Mennonite Christians in Washington DC ñ members of one of the historic peace churches ñ are expanding their shared commitment to social justice, pastoral action and nonviolent witness as a result of a finance and property move by the aid agency Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

With a smaller number of service workers coming from outside the community, MCC has been able to sell the large house where volunteers used to live and instead put the proceeds toward purchasing a smaller home for workers near two Anabaptist churches.

At the same time it has purchased a new office which will be run with a number of other agencies, from where national advocacy work impacting decision-makers and NGOs will continue.

In the latter part of 2006, service workers and local workers will be added to the Mennonite service programme in the US capital. A group of local church leaders was asked to identify fresh priorities.

As a result, work will be developed to address nonviolence, education, homelessness, offender reintegration and immigration, said Rebecca Knight, who is starting as coordinator for the Washington DC service programme.

"I am excited about the opportunities for an expanded service and peace witness in our nation's capital and about the spirit of collaboration among local Anabaptist churches and agencies," said Rolando Santiago, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee USA.

MCC is known worldwide for its peace and development work, and for its ability to build bridges between Christian and other faith communities because of its commitment to Gospel-based nonviolence.

The Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office, which had six workers in a small space before, is now spreading into a building that will be shared with two MCC East Coast workers.

Eastern Mennonite University's Centre for Justice and Peacebuilding will rent space there too, as will the Anabaptist Peace Center.

"What that will do is create a kind of synergy and interaction among these Anabaptist groups who are all doing peace-building, just with a little different focus," said J. Daryl Byler, director of the Washington Office. "Hopefully we'll be able to build on each other's ideas.î

The MCC Washington Office will have a time of dedication and run an open house on the afternoon of 14 2006.

Byler noted that in addition to giving space for additional organizations to work in the building, there is also more space for Washington Office staff to meet with Anabaptists from Washington or from across the country.

"My main hope is that having this facility and a little more space will just strengthen the Anabaptist witness on Capitol Hill at a time when it seems that witness is desperately needed," he explained.

MCC first opened an office on Capitol Hill in 1968. Donors from nearly 40 states contributed some 150,000 US dollars for the new arrangements. "The support was really broad-based and generous," Daryl Byler says.

[Also on Ekklesia: Mennonites concerned and active over Gaza 03/07/06; Mennonites work with soldiers who turn their backs on war 26/06/06; European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God 22/06/06; Christian peacemakers stay committed to Iraq 19/06/06; Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment 13/06/06; Christian peace worker says al-Zarqawi death will not halt violence 09/06/06]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.