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When Jean Anderson read in a Brethren Church newsletter that Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) and the Brethren Church had formalized a working agreement together, she could not have been more excited.

“Serving with MDS is the perfect place for the Brethren church to be,” said Anderson, 70, who has served with MDS with her husband, Duane, since 2018.

For Anderson and many other Brethren Church members, the new agreement sets down in formal terms a partnership of service and caring that has already been thriving on the ground.

Anderson said she has seen many times when members of Brethren churches had a heart to help disaster survivors—but lacked the capacity and resources to make it happen.

She and her husband traveled to their first MDS project in Bloomington, Texas, to help repair and rebuild homes for people in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

“Then we continued to volunteer whenever we had an opening,” said Anderson. Earlier this year, they served in Rockport, Texas.

Members of the County Line Brethren Church in Lakeville, Indiana, the Andersons plan to keep volunteering, and they believe the new agreement will encourage their friends to serve with MDS as well.

“This agreement opens the door even more for those who want access to volunteer opportunities,” she said.

The agreement specifies that MDS will provide opportunities for Brethren Church congregations and congregants—both skilled and non-skilled—to volunteer and serve locally and throughout the U.S. and Canada. MDS will contribute financially to cover volunteer costs, including dormitory-style lodging, home-cooked meals, tools, equipment and transportation from a work camp to a house recovery project.

The Brethren Church will send out an introductory letter to its churches introducing MDS, provide to MDS a list of congregations and their contact information, and partner with MDS as its preferred partner for U.S. disaster relief services.

“I just want to thank MDS,” said Anderson. “There’s a community of believers that build their own faith out there as we shoulder responsibilities together.”


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