Look through the accounts of MCC's early history, and you see the names of men – from older church leaders to young workers like Orie Miller, Clayton Kratz and Arthur Slagel.
But from the 1920s, women were part of the efforts, not only collecting clothing and donated items at home, but sharing God's love and compassion for all in areas torn by war and need.
"I'm just a woman trying to help other women."
- Edna Ruth Byler
Here are a few stories of early MCC women and their service in the name of Christ.
We hope these inspire you to celebrate the many MCC women of the past and present – both MCC workers and the partners and project participants who are working courageously to meet basic needs, find new opportunities and work for peace and justice.
(Top photo: Lois Gunden and Helen Penner set out for MCC terms in France in October, 1941– more than a year after France had surrendered to the Nazis and was under German occupation. Photo courtesy of Gunden/Clemens families)
Photo courtesy of Gunden/Clemens families; MCC photo
"It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, but what matters is the person you are and what you can give to the life of the church and the community."
- Lois Gunden Clemens, in 1989 interview with Philadelphia Inquirer
MCC photos; book cover MCC photo/Brenda Burkholder
"If the CPS boys are cowards, then I am one, too; furthermore, they are my brothers and friends."
- Mary Emma Showalter
MCC photos; MCC photo/Burton Buller
"The men knew MCC through Orie Miller. We women knew about MCC through Edna Ruth Byler."
- Carolyn Leaman Weaver in 2019
"When I saw the first group of children arrive from the slums of Manchester and Liverpool, I knew I was needed and that I would love caring for those children."
- Elfrieda (Klassen) Dyck, in Up from the Rubble
"The irrepressible twins ran the school with great gusto, bandaging cuts, making beds, coordinating the teaching staff, telling Bible stories at daily chapels, organizing Christmas pageants and taking students to the Baraka Bible Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem for Sunday school and church."
- Salt and Sign: Mennonite Central Committee in Palestine, 1949-1999
"This is unbelievable – our mustard seed has turned into a big tree and it is still growing."
- Linie Friesen
"We are looking for ways to live more simply and joyfully, ways that grow out of our tradition but take their shape from living faith and the demands of a hungry world."
- Doris Janzen Longacre