MCC and Everence: a shared history

Everyday Stewardship |

Working together to serve the church and others

MCC photo collage

In the fall of 2020, Mennonite Central Committee commemorated 100 years of relief, development and peace in the name of Christ. As Everence® celebrates 75 years this year, we recognize and celebrate our partnership and shared history with MCC.

“As you know, it’s a unique time to celebrate an anniversary,” said Ron Byler, Executive Director of MCC U.S., during the online Everence 75th anniversary Sunday, July 19. “Perhaps the extreme challenges of the moment underscore how important it is for both of our organizations to continue to follow God’s call.”

Even in a historic and unprecedented year, the shared work of Everence and MCC can be celebrated.

A notable founding connection

One notable connection of the organizations is their mutual key founder – Orie O. Miller.

Throughout his life, Miller served in leadership roles across various Mennonite-associated organizations, bringing “a deep personal faith, a profound understanding of the nuances of Mennonite culture,. . . and a confident working style, quite comfortable with managerial authority and assertive decision-making,” writes John D. Roth in Where the people go: community, generosity, and the story of Everence.

Miller served as one of the first MCC representatives during a trip to Russia after World War I to deliver food and clothing in 1920. Twenty-five years later, he was elected to serve as the first president for what was then known as Mennonite Mutual Aid, created to support the financial needs of conscientious objectors after World War II.

Strong desire to help

From the beginning, the desire for both organizations was to help others – first with those with Anabaptist roots and then with others beyond their immediate focus. MCC and Everence have worked together to do this several times throughout their histories

In the early days, this included loans for those returning from Civilian Public Service after World War II. Later, Mennonite Foundation, now known as Everence Foundation, created ways for people to donate cash, houses, farms, commodities and other gifts to nonprofits including MCC. Most recently, Everence and MCC addressed issues of racial injustice by combining efforts with Mennonite Disaster Service to support racially and ethnically diverse churches and their members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our organizations remain attuned to the faith expressions of the church and our desire to follow Jesus,” said Byler. “Together, we educate on topics like creation care and dismantling racism, a vital need at this time of unprecedented social unrest.”

MCC benefits from Everence being a leader in socially responsible investing and planned giving, and their shared goals and morals create an appealing community for like-minded individuals and churches.

Carrying out our missions together

“There has been an ongoing recognition and understanding of shared theology and values,” said Bill Hartman, Everence Vice President of Organization Services. “Besides business services and activity that supports MCC’s mission and programs, having shared initiatives and opportunities to carry out our missions together adds to the unique relationship.”

Leonard Dow, Everence Stewardship and Development Specialist and former MCC staff member and board leader, was the keynote speaker for MCC’s livestreamed centennial celebration on Oct. 17. Over the course of the celebratory year, Dow has reflected on MCC’s challenges MCC over the past 100 years – and the strengths God developed in the organization as a result.

“MCC at its best,” Dow said, “has a prophetic imagination. 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.”

MCC and Everence have worked together for peace, justice and relief for decades, creating a shared history – and they welcome a shared future, as well.

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Author

Kristin Troyer
Writer/Designer

Joint timeline

1940-46 -- Supporting conscientious objectors

MCC ran the Civilian Public Service, an alternative to military service for conscientious objectors during World War iI. When they returned home, MMA (former name of Everence) started a loan program to help them get re-established.

1947 -- Resettling refugees in Paraguay

MCC helped resettle refugees leaving the Soviet Union and moving primarily to Paraguay; MMA helped coordinate the funding campaign.

1952 -- A new way to donate

Everence developed a new charitable organization, Mennonite Foundation (now Everence Foundation) to give people new ways to donate cash, houses, farms, commodities and other gifts to MCC, churches and other nonprofits.

1955 -- Helping mutual aid groups respond to crisis

MCC convened the first meeting of local and regional Mennonite/Anabaptist mutual aid societies. MMA/Everence joined this effort as the first churchwide group. They worked to help church members recover after fires, storms and natural disasters.

1994 -- Universal health coverage

MCC and MMA/Everence supported U.S. universal health coverage, with each lobbying in Washington, D.C., for different paths to get there.

2014 -- Learning tours to Israel-Palestine

MCC and Everence (along with Mennonite Mission Network) co-sponsored and sent participants on Mennonite Church USA tours for pastors and church leaders.

2020 -- Supported Congregational Relief Fund

A joint partnership with Mennonite Disaster Service, MCC and Everence to support churches and their members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still working together