Involuntary: Terminated MCC workers call for accountability and change

June 20, 2024 | News | Volume 28 Issue 9
Will Braun |
A potholder Anicka Fast received at MCC orientation. Photo: John Clarke

“I still use it,” Anicka Fast says of the brownish knitted potholder she received at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) orientation in Akron, Pennsylvania, in 2009. Fast and her husband John Clarke were en route to their first MCC assignment at the time.

Fast is grateful to the women who, for many years, offered those hand-crafted gestures of community support to participants in MCC orientations. She’s grateful even though she and Clarke were terminated without cause by MCC last year. 

The abrupt end came while Fast and her family were in a time of crisis following nearly three years in conflict-ridden Burkina Faso. Fast had just received a preliminary diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The couple are among seven people involuntarily terminated by MCC who wrote a June 11 open letter to "the global MCC constituency" calling for the organization to be held accountable to its peacebuilding principles in relation to treatment of its own workers.


Organizational culture

MCC is among the most prominent and storied Mennonite institutions. Many of its North American supporters volunteer in MCC thrift stores, faithfully attend relief sales, hang MCC calendars on their walls and entrust donations to the international relief, development and peacebuilding organization. Last year, MCC Canada and MCC U.S., which operate in tandem, reported combined revenue of more than CDN$160 million.

The concerns of the terminated workers raise questions about how MCC, and, by implication, other organizations, deal with internal conflicts and how the influence of human resources (HR) practices affect organizational culture. 

Several people who have held leadership positions with MCC or related organizations are also raising concerns about MCC culture and/or the termination of Fast and Clarke.    


Letter to constituents

The nine-page letter to MCC constituents details the experiences of the seven former workers and their serious allegations. They say they are speaking up because they care about MCC and believe constituents should know of their experiences. 

The letter is linked to an online petition that had been signed by 652 people when this article was published. 

Canadian Mennonite interviewed all seven people behind the letter, reviewed numerous related documents and spoke with two other people, both of whom were terminated without cause by MCC. The seven people interviewed served in five countries on two continents and were terminated—some with cause—between 2009 and 2024.

One common element among them was the feeling that when conflict arose within MCC, and when they asked questions, MCC did not respond with the degree of openness and care they expected. They were left feeling confused and ultimately betrayed by an organization they believed in and had sacrificed much for. Still, they express an enduring desire for the good of MCC.

Three of the people did not publish their names for fear of jeopardizing relationships or employment.


The other side

MCC did not make anyone available for an interview but provided a written statement it had previously sent to constituents who expressed concern about the termination of Fast and Clarke. The full statement is available at

The statement says, "MCC seeks to ensure the physical and mental health of all staff and partners, making it our highest priority."

Following release of the June 11 open letter, MCC spokesperson Laura Kalmar expanded on MCC’s earlier statement, writing in an email to Canadian Mennonite, “MCC may hold a different view of the circumstances outlined by John and Anicka—as well as the others who signed the open letter—while, at the same time, endeavouring to be a listening, learning and growing organization.”

Kalmar further noted MCC’s “inability to discuss details of confidential HR matters, especially those currently under litigation.” Fast and Clarke are pursuing their concerns via the Quebec labour board, known as the Commission des Normes, de L'équité, de la Santé et de la Sécurité du Travail.

In a June 18 statement, MCC said, in relation to legal action and public discussion, “We will share the facts as we know them in a court of law at the appropriate time.” 


Anicka Fast & John Clarke

Fast and Clarke, along with their two children, began an assignment with MCC in Burkina Faso in July 2020. They oversaw programming there, with a team of approximately 12. For part of the term, Fast was seconded on a part-time basis to Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite World Conference in addition to her MCC duties.

The couple had served with MCC in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2009 to 2012. Fast’s 2020 PhD dissertation focused on the history of Mennonite churches in DR Congo.

Speaking by video call from the Netherlands, where they now live, Fast and Clarke said they're speaking up less for themselves than out of a broader concern for the organization. 


Questions raised

The couple said that part way through their term in Burkina Faso, they raised questions with MCC HR staff in the U.S. Clarke was concerned about the process by which job openings were designated as open to either local or international applicants. These were sensitive decisions and a "known issue" within MCC, according to Clarke.

“I named the problem and asked for guidance,” he said. Clarke had the impression his questions were unwelcome. Responses from HR staff were inadequate and unreasonably delayed in his view.  

Tensions escalated in March 2023 when a particular HR process was handled in a way Clarke described as heavy-handed and and non-restorative. Privacy policies prevent him from discussing specifics.

Fast and Clarke said they contacted HR directors hoping for resolution.  “We can surely sit down and talk this through,” Fast thought, but repeated efforts proved frustrating. 

It felt to Clarke that HR staff were "deflecting".

The MCC area directors were supportive, but Fast and Clarke said HR staff cut the area directors out of the process leaving the couple feeling “isolated.”


Turmoil in Burkina Faso

Meanwhile, two coup d’etats took place in the country in 2022. At staff devotional times, local colleagues shared stories of villages burned and family members forced to flee. The MCC team responded to an attempted abduction of a staff member’s child, the death of a project participant and people disappearing.

Facing turmoil in the country as well as what they experienced as the resistance of HR staff to address conflict, the couple brought their complaints in writing to the executive directors (EDs) of MCC Canada and MCC U.S.—Rick Cober Bauman and Ann Graber Hershberger, respectively—in accordance with MCC policy.

Three weeks later, though the EDs had not met with the couple, Graber Hershberger replied, saying the EDs had full confidence in the HR directors. 

The EDs refused a second request to meet. 

"This can't be happening." Fast recalled thinking. "We'll find another person who will understand. We'll wake up from this."



Conflict in the country worsened. "We had been hearing stories about genocide, ethnic cleansings, atrocities," Clarke recalled. They prepared for the possibility of evacuating MCC personnel.

In July 2023, they went to the Netherlands, where Fast holds citizenship, for combined vacation time and stress leave.

There, psychological symptoms surfaced. “I became dysfunctional,” Fast said. “I could not think about going back. . . . I had hoped I would rest and recover and be able to go back to work, but something had shifted.”

A psychologist said Fast appeared to have PTSD, which was formally diagnosed thereafter. “I had trouble accepting that,” Fast said.

The psychologist recommended Fast not return to Burkina Faso for at least six months.

“At that point, I still believed that MCC would be there for us,” Fast said.

The couple informed their supervisors and suggested a medical leave plan that would see them stay in the Netherlands, with Clarke working remotely and via travel to Burkina Faso. MCC wanted Fast and Clarke to relocate to another African country instead.

At the same time, the couple was trying to pursue the conflict resolution process related to earlier actions of HR staff.  


Next level

Fast and Clarke wrote to Ron Ratzlaff, chair of the MCC Canada board, whom they knew and appreciated.

“We feel like we are isolated and have no one we can talk to for help,” they wrote. “We are in a very difficult situation and are reaching out in desperation for your guidance and assistance, in as much as you can provide as chair of MCC Canada board.”

According to the couple, Ratzlaff’s reply was short and business-like. Policy, they were told, prevented board involvement. They were pointed back to the staff who were the source of their concerns. 

While board members of an organization do not generally involve themselves in personnel matters, it is often within the purview of a board to ensure neutral third-party avenues for resolving serious conflicts. MCC policies are not public.

Ratzlaff copied his email reply, which included the couple’s detailed concerns with the ED, to the ED. Fast and Clarke had considered it confidential.

It felt to the couple like another dead end—like the process kept turning against them.

The day after Ratzlaff’s email–August 25, 2023–a previously arranged call with senior MCC U.S. staff took place. Fast and Clarke understood the purpose was to discuss relocation and sick leave.

Instead, Fast and Clarke were terminated without cause, effective immediately.

“They didn’t even ask how we were doing,” Fast recalled.


'Separation package'

MCC staff paused during the call to verify Fast and Clarke’s personal email addresses because the couple were immediately disconnected from MCC’s electronic system and Whatsapp groups. They say they were asked not to talk with any MCC staff.

In the midst of a debilitating mental health crisis—Clarke was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD as well—with no home and two children dealing with their own stresses, Fast and Clarke were without a job and feeling a profound sense of “institutional betrayal,” as Clarke put it. 

"MCC knew we were in a real crisis," Fast said. 

During the call, MCC emailed the couple a financial “separation package.” They were offered approximately $160,000 plus unspecified moving and medical expenses if they signed a legal document by which they would give up all rights to recourse, grievance or complaint and would commit to never disclose details of the agreement or speak negatively about MCC. 

Such agreements are common in the business world and some church organizations.

The agreement stated that if Fast and Clarke did not sign it, they would receive approximately $118,000 less.  

The couple said this felt like MCC was trying to pay them to be quiet instead of seeking to understand and work through the couple’s serious concerns. They felt that a confidential settlement was not the path to peace. 

They did not sign.


Public recourse

On November 3, 2023, Fast and Clarke sent a letter of grievance to the MCC Canada and U.S. boards, copied to various church contacts, including Canadian Mennonite.

Ron Ratzlaff and Gilberto Perez, chairs of the MCC Canada and U.S. boards, respectively, responded, expressing a willingness to engage in mediation and saying MCC would initiate a third-party investigation.

“Our heart is to engage with you in a spirit of reconciliation," Perez and Ratzlaff wrote. "We commit to holding this process prayerfully and with care."

Ratzlaff and Perez declined to comment for this article. 


Labour board

In October 2023, Fast and Clarke each filed a formal complaint with the provincial labour board in Quebec, their home jurisdiction. Quebec labour law says a person can file a complaint if they have served two uninterrupted years and “[believe] they have not been dismissed for a good and sufficient cause.” 

“We [had] been asking [MCC] since April [2023] to just sit down and talk with us, always assuming that things could easily be straightened out, and it was only after multiple failed attempts to get a hearing, and being fired, that we considered this legal channel,” Fast wrote in a December 7, 2023, email to Canadian Mennonite.  

The couple informed MCC of this step, emphasizing that they still preferred to find resolution outside legal channels.

The labour board process includes a mediation option. MCC agreed to this, but when Fast and Clarke discovered that process would require them to commit not to speak publicly of the situation, they opted out.

“We do not think that secrecy about these events serves MCC, us, MCC’s partners or the broader Mennonite community, and [we] are determined to preserve our right to speak freely,” they said in an email.

A Quebec tribunal is expected to hear the couple’s case within eight to 14 months.

Fast and Clarke said they are seeking a measure of justice, not a significant financial award, the latter of which they say is highly unlikely in the labour board process.



Three months after Fast and Clark requested an independent investigation, a firm hired by MCC informed the couple they would investigate their complaints and send the report to MCC's HR department. It is common practice for third-party reports of this nature to go to the HR department of a business or organization. 

After back-and-forth with the investigator, Fast and Clarke declined to participate because they felt the firm MCC selected was not focused on institutional accountability and justice for complainants, and because the investigator's report would go to the people at the centre of the couple's complaints—the HR department. 

The investigation has proceeded without them. 

"HR are seen as the masters of the process [and] policies." Fast and Clarke said, echoing a concern of others interviewed by Canadian Mennonite. Many expressed concern that HR policies and procedures take precedence over a more relational and conciliatory approach.

MCC’s June 18 statement reads: “MCC’s HR staff are committed to engaging with respect and care. They are individuals of faith who are consummate professionals.” 


In its earlier statement to Canadian Mennonite, MCC said its third-party investigation will allow the organization to “continue to monitor and evaluate MCC’s processes and policies, ensuring the ongoing health and safety of all MCC staff.”


Possibility of mediation

The couple's continual request has been for "MCC to participate in a faciliated and restorative conversation." They said they can drop the labour board process at any point. 

The original MCC statement says, in relation to Fast and Clarke, “We look forward to participating in a mediation process with the parties involved in the future.”

Like others interviewed, Fast and Clarke said they want MCC to abide by the teachings on mediation, trauma and addressing complaints that its own workers receive in their training.

"MCC prides itself in providing trauma healing," Clarke noted, yet their family has endured the acute and sustained effects of the ordeal. 


MCC response

In response to impacts on families cited in the open letter, MCC said in an email to Canadian Mennonite, “We do acknowledge the hurt expressed by these former MCC staff members and their families.” In the June 18 statement, MCC says, “We want to respond with humility and compassion.”

The statement says, “MCC takes all reports of complaints from employees seriously,” noting its Speak Up service by which employees or others can file complaints. “All reports are confidential,” the statement reads. “[C]omplaints are received by a third party on their secure servers. The reports are then handed over to trained MCC HR staff and may be investigated by a neutral third party where appropriate.”

In reference to cases in which staff on the ground disagree with MCC decisions, the statement says, “MCC seeks to find a resolution that is consistent with our policies and offers compassion to those engaged.”

At the time of publishing, Fast and Clarke said MCC EDs were in conversation with them about a possible mediated meeting, something the couple have been seeking since their initial complaint to EDs nearly a year ago.


Other accounts

The accounts of the other five people behind the open letter are reflected to a considerable extent by the comment of a terminated worker who said that in his experience, MCC lacked a spirit of trying to work through difficulties. In the cases of these people, when tensions, conflicts and cross-cultural misunderstandings arose, the ultimate result was that people in positions of less power were terminated. 

Three themes were the sense that superiors did not “have the backs” of these workers, the avenues for recourse did not serve these workers well and that MCC did not adequately live up to its peacemaking principles in these situations. 


Kathryn & Dan Smith Derksen

The other people who put their name to the letter are Kathryn and Dan Smith Derksen of Seattle, Washington. Having served with MCC in Uganda from 2000 to 2003, the couple and their two children started what was to be a three-year term as peace workers in Chad in 2006. During a video interview they said their assignment was remote and challenging.

They described insufficient in-country orientation and very poor relations with their supervisor. 

Speaking by video call, the couple described a failure on the part of MCC to provide adequate support or to deal proactively with the deterioration of relations with their supervisor. Senior staff did not respond adequately to the Smith Derksens’ request for mediation. 

Despite these troubles, the Smith Derksens valued their work and asked to extend their term. The partner organization and MCC signed an extension. Documents indicate MCC had concerns about the Smith Derksens and conflictual relations, but still, MCC approved the extension. 

Less than a month later, on May 25, 2009, the couple were involuntarily terminated.

The termination letter said the couple shared negative information about the partner with one of the partner’s major funders. The Smith Derksens told Canadian Mennonite the accusation is false and that MCC could have cleared up the situation with a call to the funder. 

The couple said they were not provided meaningful opportunity to defend themselves until an investigative committee review that took place well after their termination. 

The couple have communication from a person connected to the funding organization cited in their termination letter, obtained after their termination, that they say supports their case. A revised termination letter, which excluded the central allegation against them, was issued following the review process.

That review and investigation almost did not happen. Two and a half months after the Smith Derksen’s termination, but prior to them initiating the grievance process, MCC  informed the couple that a new grievance policy had been put in place. The committee review process was no longer included. MCC eventually agreed to allow the Smith Derksens to use the process stipulated in the policy that had been in place when they were terminated. 

Following the process, MCC gave the couple USD$10,000 and asked them not to speak about the conflict, though there was no legal requirement to remain silent. 

The couple said they are speaking up now in order to support families who continue to go through comparable experiences. While they do not seek further redress for themselves, they emphasized the lasting impacts they say the termination has had on their family. 



Given the stature of MCC and the interconnectedness of Mennonite organizations, the efforts of Fast, Clarke and the others to seek public accountability have created ripples. 

The matter came up at the April meetings of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Executive Committee in Brazil.

Fast serves as secretary of the MWC Faith and Life Commission, a part-time position she also held during her MCC assignment. Speaking at the Brazil meeting—which Fast did not attend—MWC general secretary César García noted that MCC had “unexpectedly terminated” Fast and Clarke’s assignment in August. 

“MCC did not accuse Anicka or John of any misconduct,” García stated.

“MWC strongly supports Anicka’s ministry as MWC Faith and Life Commission Secretary. MWC continues to partner with MCC while continuing to encourage their process of resolution and healing in this situation.”

García clarified for Canadian Mennonite that these comments were his personal communication to that particular audience and do not constitute an official public statement from MWC.

MCC senior leaders, past and present, were in attendance.


In need of care

Others also provide a degree of backing for Fast and Clarke. Rod Hollinger-Janzen served as executive coordinator of Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission from 2005 to the beginning of 2021. During this time, he was involved with Fast's PhD work. It was “brilliant work,” he said, adding that she was loved by the people.

Previously, Hollinger-Janzen and his wife Linda served with MCC in Burkina Faso and with Mennonite Board of Missions in Benin. They visited Fast and Clarke in Burkina Faso.

During a video interview, Hollinger-Janzen said there is much he does not know about Fast and Clarke’s termination, but he is perplexed and troubled by what he does know. He questioned how people of the “calibre” of Fast and Clarke, who gave so much of themselves in a high-stress setting, could end up being terminated at a time when they most needed support.

"What happens to the trust in the community when things like this happen and seemingly they are not dealt with in a restorative way?” he asked.

“This isn’t about demonizing anybody," Hollinger-Janzen added. "We care about MCC. We want to see MCC thrive and be its best self."


Be nice

Tim Lind shares similar concerns and wishes. Lind served with MCC between the late 1960s and 2014. He worked as Africa director, based in the U.S., for seven years in the ‘80s, and, along with his wife Suzanne, as country representatives for the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2007 to 2014.

Fast and Clarke served with MCC in DR Congo during that time. “We hired them,” Lind said, noting that he and Suzanne got to know the couple well during that time and have stayed in touch since.

Speaking by video call from his home in Michigan, Lind said he has no “special knowledge” related to the termination of Fast and Clarke, and he notes that MCC has not given their version. Still, having heard Fast and Clarke’s account, he is concerned.

Lind said MCC is known as an organization that has done ground-breaking work in conflict resolution and in dealing with trauma. The way they appear to have handled the situation of Clarke and Fast seems “oppositional to all of those principles that MCC itself has put forward,” he said.

Lind acknowledged that while working with people is “complicated,” it comes down to “what we learned in kindergarten about how to treat each other: be nice to each other.” Referring to things MCC taught him during his service, he said the party with greater power has a responsibility to not use their power against others.

“You treat people as though you care about them,” he said.

Lind noted a general shift toward “a very corporate model of governance” within various church-related organizations and said this does not always align with the values of those organizations. 

In this case, Lind said of MCC, “if they have made a mistake, they need to correct it and then we go on. We expect that of MCC, and it makes them stronger.”


Quiet loyalty

Abe Janzen worked for MCC for 30-plus years, in Bolivia and as director of MCC Alberta. He has no particular connection to people behind the open letter, and is no longer with MCC.  

Janzen says MCC tends to expect a high degree of loyalty, and sometimes that comes at the expense of an openness to questioning. 

Janzen emphasizes that he continues to support MCC and is deeply grateful for the opportunities he has had with MCC.

As for involuntary termination, he says that in such cases resolution of relationships should be a priority.


Pastor Bananzaro

The termination of Fast and Clarke reverberated among Mennonites in Burkina Faso. Pastor Thioro Bananzaro is the chair of the Mennonite Church in Burkina Faso (Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso) and the pastor of the church Fast and Clarke attended in Ouagadougou.

"With the whole national church, we do not have the right words to qualify what happened to this family," he wrote in an email to Canadian Mennonite, referring to Fast, Clarke and their kids.

He raised three concerns. First, the church was not informed of the reason for the termination.

Second, for Fast and Clarke to leave without properly informing their hosts–a scenario they were forced into–is a breach of culture. Pastor Bananzaro says, "most partners are silently thinking this way—a situation this family does not deserve."

Thirdly, he says the way the family was treated shows a "lack of love," especially given Fast's health concerns. "As a Christian community, we do not want this to be a bad testimony to [who we are as Mennonites] in the country," he said.

"Finally," he wrote, "we strongly recommend that MCC proceeds to repair the damages caused to this family."


Potholders and calendars

Like Anicka Fast, who values the women who knitted potholders for MCC workers, Kathryn Smith Derksen said during an interview, "I have two MCC calendars on my wall right now. I believe in the good that is MCC.”

Notably, the March photo in the calendar was taken by Clarke.

Clarke said he knows the couple’s story will be hard for many MCC supporters to hear. He and Fast said repeatedly that they don’t want their story to make people feel bad. Still, while noting that people spend lifetimes volunteering for MCC and donating, Clarke said he does not want a sense of the “unquestioned sacredness” of MCC to prevent people from requiring accountability of MCC leaders. He does not want the “beloved” organization to be turned into an “idol” that cannot be questioned.

The couple recalled an instance when MCC colleagues in Africa simply vanished from the MCC scene. They said no one, including themselves, said anything. That’s the culture, Clarke said: "We don't ask. We don't talk about it." They recall thinking that the people who were gone "must have done something terrible." 

"There seems to be something deeply Mennonite about not questioning authority." Clarke said. 

For Fast, speaking out feels like "touching this sacred, untouchable thing."

Having led a faith-based agency for 15 years, Hollinger-Janzen said, “organizations have to defend themselves; that just goes with the territory. At the same time, if an organization is not comfortable calling itself into question, that’s also problematic.”

Speaking about the concerns raised by Fast and Clarke, and echoing the sentiment of most of the people Canadian Mennonite interviewed for this article, Hollinger-Janzen said, “we want these problems to be dealt with in a good way so we can have a stronger MCC.”

A potholder Anicka Fast received at MCC orientation. Photo: John Clarke

MCC Calendar, 2024. Photo: J. Burwalde

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I served in the PAX program in the late '60’s in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I felt very supported by MCC [Mennonite Central Committee]. I am aware of a person who resigned from MCC because of unresolved conflict with superiors. It was a traumatic experience.

I worked for MCC for five years back in the 1980s as a VS'er (voluntary service worker) in Canada. While I personally had no issues with MCC management, some MCC VS'ers in our cadre were dismissed as quietly as possible.

I think it is unrealistic to expect that there will be no human resource issues in a a multi-million dollar international NGO as large as MCC.

I think that MCC volunteers are often idealistic, coming into the service positions with fervent expectations of doing the Lord's work, placing MCC on a pedestal of unreal expectations.

MCC, is dependent on its theologically inclined constituency for funding, and like any large organization has a reputation/image to protect. Evidently, MCC uses lawyers, non-disclosure agreements and dismissals to protect its reputation.

A problem with the MCC model, is that it is a charity model. The charity model allows us as donors not to change. We feel comfortable with our monetary contributions to MCC. The charity model assures us that we are deeply faithful Christians, and allows North American Mennonite Christians to continue to participate in a deeply flawed and unjust economic system which advantages the few and disadvantages the many. We pay our dues, and wash our hands of injustice. The MCC charity model is a useful tool for us to avoid any life changes we should be making as we take advantage of opportunities in an unjust economic system.

I am relatively new to the Mennonite community, having joined about two years ago and having been baptized recently, after being raised in other Christian denominations. That said, even my own experiences within my beloved home congregation have really reflected this issue that Clarke raises about Mennonites preferring not to question authority. It's something that I, not having been raised in the culture, find unquestionably difficult to reconcile with my faith and my background in peaceful activism. Thank you for this detailed article - it was very thought provoking and I hope that there will be updates over time.

I 've always had high respect for MCC as an organization that has led Anabaptists in doing justice. However, MCC has also done much harm around the world by disregarding the voices of international partners and its own personnel, thus, acting with colonizing impunity.

My dismay comes when MCC doesn't recognize the harms that its policies and actions have done but leans into corporate rather than Christ-like responses to that harm. I resonate deeply with the opening paragraph of the June 11 open letter to MCC's constituency: "Through this public statement, we are confronting the very organization that has taught us so much about what peacebuilding at its best can look like. We are engaging in this very difficult journey, not to ruin MCC, but because we care so deeply about this organization and the churches that support it. We long to see many join us in this pursuit of truth, accountability, and restoration."

I applaud and stand with Anicka Fast, John Clarke and the others who have signed the letter for their courage and perseverance in speaking out. So many of the MCC workers who have been harmed are vulnerable young adults, who have not had the emotional resources to give voice to the trauma they have endured.

I ask all those who have deep respect for MCC to speak out and call this organization to faithfully follow Jesus, instead of making "In the name of Christ" a sacrilege.

Thanks, Lynda for this response.

The specter of MCC "idolatry" was raised in the main article.

Sojourners Magazine used to do a column, titled "Idols Closer to Home." And Mennonite missionary/author, Levi Keidel, published a book in 1971, titled: "Stop Treating Me Like God" ( His depiction of the often forced "schizophrenia" of the missionary applies to institutions like MCC (and churches!) too:

"[The awe-inspiring institution] compels [it] to live as a split-level [entity]: the image-fulfillment [one that] the public sees, and the fallible human-level [reality it] secretly knows [itself] to be. (p. 9)"

When in 1998, after nine years as director of MCC Victim Offender Ministries, I was about to be abruptly terminated — despite sterling performance evaluations — upon my challenging the decision, and strong advocacy from a provincial director, MCCC Canada changed course.

I can only hope and pray something similar may arise from the fiasco that MCC/MCCC represents in its corporate-like leadership style today. But institutional culture, once become entrenched , dies hard.

Will MCC rise to that challenge? Where will sufficient impetus for that needed level of leadership culture shake-up come from?

Or will leadership simply dig in?

Lord, in your mercy. . .

We became members of the Mennonite Church in Canada over 50 years ago, initially the General Conference, then Mennonite Brethren, and have been active supporting their ministries since then. The Mennonites, in our personal experience, are very active with helping others, and leading people to a saving relationship with our Lord. However, the one major problem is some people are self-centered instead of Christ-centered. When conflicts arise, we need to follow the example provided in Scripture, that is meet one-to-one, and see, with our Lord's help, if the conflict can be resolved. People in authority that do NOT allow this to happen, need to get "Back to the Bible". They need to be suspended from any position where they have authority over others until they allow Christ to be a part in conflict resolution. We as Christians, are held to a higher accountability by non-Christians than others are. Whatever we do or say MUST reflect the power of Christ in our lives, and in our relationships with others.

I am an MK (missionary kid) from Mali. My parents, Mennonites from Jansen, Nebraska, went to Mali in 1946 with Gospel Missionary Union (now Avant) serving until 1984. Missionaries leaving the field without explanation is not unique to MCC.

Why mission organization consider the organization more important than the individual is something that has been questioned by many. Mennonite faith is known for peacemaking yet there is no peace when the organization mistreats their own workers.

I plead with MCC to correct this grave mistreatment of the workers they have terminated just because they asked questions, or asked for help. MCC can do better, they can be an example to other mission groups.

Many children of missionaries have left their faith because of this attitude of superiority by mission leaders. Does MCC understand the damage done to Anicka and John's children?

I have met Anicka; she cares very much for her children. As an MK who works with MKs who have experienced abuse and trauma as children in their mission setting I see all the damage done that lasts a life time. When approaching mission organizations and boards MKs are told they are bitter and angry, then ignored by the organizations. Is it any wonder many have left the faith of their parents.

MCC, please consider Anicka and John's children and all the other MKs your first mission field. Treating your workers as Christ would treat them will go a long way to reaching your first mission field, MKs. You are not a peacemaking, relief organization if you do not do the same with your workers

Please put aside worries it will cost to much money, stop defending your wrong doing. I love MCC, I want to see it do what is right.

I appreciate very much the time, work and thought put into the writing of this article. It has not been easy to hear about actions taken by MCC leaders that are so hurtful and callous. I hope very much that those who read it will be willing to be open to the truth of what they read. This article and the letter the group sent out and the petition that is circulating are all steps that can work toward an incredible change for MCC's growth. We, MCC's constituents, will have to mean business though.

I worked with MCC for 10 years. In any organization, especially one as large and complex as MCC, there will always be imbalances of power and perceived unfairness between the organization and the staff. As a multimillion-dollar entity with responsibilities to thousands of donors, MCC must make tough staffing decisions. Not everyone will agree with them, especially when confidentiality prevents the facts of something like a termination from being discussed openly.

To gain a fuller understanding, I ask the terminated workers who wrote the open letter referenced in the article:

-Were there any performance issues raised prior to your terminations?
-Did you/will you make your performance evaluations available for review to the Canadian Mennonite?
-Is being based in the country where you are a representative a requirement for the position?
-Do you believe using the Speak Up service should provide immunity from termination?

There are improvements that can be made at MCC, like at any large, complex organization. Some are badly needed.

However, many of the questions posed in the open letter/petition are not feasible for any organization to answer. As I'm sure the letter writers are aware, previous petitions for MCC to change policies or practices have not brought change within the organization. What changed MCC (in Canada) was Canadian law and the human rights commission. The Quebec labour board makes sense—pursue that. But social media and open letters haven't changed MCC in the past, likely won’t this time, and just hamper the good work MCC is doing.

This is a sad, concerning situation. Not knowing the full story and having served on boards of several faith-based organizations, I am reluctant to sign [the petition mentioned in the article] that calls for specific actions that I don't believe will be helpful.

For example, proper [non-disclosure agreements] NDAs are both helpful and needed to protect both "sides" of a conflict, after some one-to-one discussions have occurred (which don't appear to have happened satisfactorily).

I also don't think contact with individual board members is helpful or appropriate in these types of conflicts.

I continue to hope and trust that these decisions were not made out of lack of compassion but somehow for the overall good of the organization. Still, there appears to be enough here to warrant some further review, investigation and need for positive change.

At this point, I will pray for those terminated without cause, their fellow staff, MCC management of all levels, the MCC board and also for anyone tasked with further review or investigation. I believe as supporters of MCC, we need to uphold all those involved and pray for restorative justice for all. May it be so.


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