Alumni service-learning tour to Mississippi

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The civil rights struggle stepped out of history and came to life for 12 alumni of Mennonite Mission Network short-term service programs. From Mar. 9–16, Arloa Bontrager, SOOP and Youth Venture director, and Susan Nisly, Service Adventure director, led a learning tour through Mississippi. Each tour participant had served in one of Mission Network’s smorgasbord of mission opportunities designed to help people in every stage of life share their gifts with others.  

The itinerary included the Service Adventure unit in Jackson and workdays with members of the unit’s hosting congregation, Open Door Mennonite Church. Tour participants also immersed themselves in the history and vision of Pine Lake Fellowship Camp, a SOOP location near Meridian, and learned about the ministry of Jubilee Mennonite Church. More workdays in Mashulaville, where Mennonites have served with African-American and Choctaw communities for six decades, were a welcome boost to the Mennonite Service Center there.   

A visit to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson deeply impacted tour group members as they learned about atrocities that aren’t recorded in school history books. Exhibits took on flesh and blood as participants later sat on porches and in church fellowship halls listening to firsthand stories of those who had experienced the events illustrated in the museum displays.    

Scott Nelson, a Mennonite Voluntary Service alumnus, reflected on new understandings about race that occurred during the tour. Nelson, who now lives in St. Louis, Missouri, wrote about how “eerily similar” history is to what happened in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, just five years ago, when a police officer fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old African-American youth, Michael Brown, Jr.    

“I feel too many of us today are guilty of the MLK quote [about sincere ignorance]. I witnessed [scenes from the 1960s] in 2014. Black fear is REAL … lots of Whites disregard these fears … we, as White people, must learn to just listen to Black people and their perspective,” Nelson wrote.  

Nelson sees that the roots of “weeds of racism” have remained dormant under the surface of our society, despite civil rights laws. He asks, “What are we willing to do to uproot the powers and principalities [of racism]?”       

Watch the video above for more highlights from that trip and stay tuned for the next alumni tour to take place fall 2019!









Cultural humility: from being right to being humanhttps://www.pjsn.org/video/Cultural-humility-from-being-right-to-being-human-Cultural humility: from being right to being human
Videos from Ecuador workers highlight ministrieshttps://www.pjsn.org/video/Videos-from-Ecuador-workers-highlight-ministriesVideos from Ecuador workers highlight ministries
Tending the vision: a Q and A with Stanley Green and Mike Sherrillhttps://www.pjsn.org/video/Top-leadership-transitioning-Aug-1-at-Mennonite-Mission-NetworkTending the vision: a Q and A with Stanley Green and Mike Sherrill
Goshen to Guatemala and backhttps://www.pjsn.org/video/Goshen-to-Guatemala-and-BackGoshen to Guatemala and back
Peace volunteers bring hope to volatile campushttps://www.pjsn.org/video/Peace-volunteers-bring-hope-to-volatile-campusPeace volunteers bring hope to volatile campus
God called me to plant a church. Now what?https://www.pjsn.org/video/God-called-me-to-plant-a-church--Now-whatGod called me to plant a church. Now what?
Mennonite Voluntary Service webinarhttps://www.pjsn.org/video/MVS-webinarMennonite Voluntary Service webinar
Mennonites in Burkina Faso and Nigeria celebrate anniversarieshttps://www.pjsn.org/video/Mennonites-in-Burkina-Faso-and-Nigeria-celebrate-anniversariesMennonites in Burkina Faso and Nigeria celebrate anniversaries
Let there be peace on earthhttps://www.pjsn.org/video/Let-there-be-peace-on-earthLet there be peace on earth
Jesus Wasn't Whitehttps://www.pjsn.org/video/Jesus-wasnt-WhiteJesus Wasn't White



A conversation with Brian and Noelia FoxA conversation with Brian and Noelia FoxThe Hope Series
John Lewis made me feel like an honored guesthttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Honored-guestJohn Lewis made me feel like an honored guestJohn Lewis memory
Learning that another world is possiblehttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Learning-that-another-world-is-possibleLearning that another world is possibleBack to School in Benin
Prayer bridged the Atlantic Oceanhttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Prayer-bridged-the-Atlantic-OceanPrayer bridged the Atlantic OceanPrayer Partners
Sharing food for body and soul in Venezuelahttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Sharing-food-for-body-and-soul-in-VenezuelaSharing food for body and soul in VenezuelaVenezuelan partnership
Tuesday webinar to introduce virtual service programhttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Tuesday-webinar-to-introduce-virtual-service-programTuesday webinar to introduce virtual service programFree Webinar