by Jennifer Schrock
We are entering a new year and in the U.S., a new political era. It is also apparent that we are in a new climatic era, where fires, floods and drought are increasing. Now is a fitting time to announce that Mennonite Creation Care Network has new vision and mission statements to guide its work.
Much has changed since an initial task force drafted mission and vision statements back in 2005 when MCCN was still in the womb. As often happens, these statements had gotten buried as the years went by. This fall, the Creation Care Council and I revisited our mission and vision and settled on the following.
MISSION: We link people, resources and the Mennonite faith tradition in ways that strengthen and spread efforts to live in harmony with creation.
VISION: Congregations across MCUSA and MCCanada witness God’s exuberant love for all creation. They respond to environmental issues with repentance and compassion, integrating care for the earth into all aspects of life. Their faith catalyzes actions that heal–within and beyond Mennonite communities.
We will see how these statements live for a year and then make adjustments if needed.
While our new mission and vision are only minor tweaks on what MCCN has always aimed for, I am already finding them a helpful guide. Below are three things I like about the statements.
Our vision names God’s love as the inspiration for all we do.
I have worked in the environmental arena for nearly 19 years. One does not stick at anything for this long without knowing something about discouragement. If I did not experience glimpses of the presence of God–through my faith community, through the powerful words of scripture, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and through the beauty and intricacy of nature–the weight of the world would have crushed my puny efforts. The same is probably true of MCCN.
A deep love of nature may give those of us in creation care a special advantage over those doing other good work. From my colleagues at Merry Lea, I learn how to look and listen to creation, and I find joy in what God has woven out of sun and water and air. When life in cyberspace is a struggle, I know where to go!
Our mission reaffirms our identity as a network.
In our earlier years, the Creation Care Council spent many hours discussing our identity as a network. We have never aspired to generate lots of resources or run programs ourselves, but to help people connect with each other and what was already available. However, the challenges of building long-distance relationships often stymied us.
Today, the goal of effective networking seems more doable. Thanks to COVID-19, many of us are now better at making long distance connections. Also, the greater number of congregations and Mennonite organizations doing environmental projects enlivens networking.
Awareness of urgency and the need for outreach
The words, strengthen and spread were prompted by the council’s desire for MCCN’s reach to grow, not just maintain itself at present levels. We aspire to be green evangelists. Congregations within the MCUSA and MC Canada remain our home base. We have many more congregations to reach within this pool. To that end, we are in the midst of a marketing review and have discussed ways we might become more interracial and intercultural.
We also hope our work is of service beyond our denominational focal point. We tried to craft our statements in ways that are inclusive. For example, we discussed referring to the biblical concept of shalom–a word that is primarily church language–but opted for “live in harmony with creation” instead as more accessible to newcomers.
We welcome your feedback on these statements over the coming year. And if these words inspire you, we welcome your donations as well!
Jennifer Halteman Schrock is the leader of Mennonite Creation Care Network. She is also an employee of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, Wolf Lake, IN, which is MCCN’s parent organization.