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Mennonite Disaster Service | Mennonite Archival Commons

Name: Mennonite Disaster Service
Variant Name: MDS

Historical Note:

Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) developed out of grassroots efforts in the Mennonite community to provide aid to survivors of natural disasters (tornadoes, floods, fires, earthquakes, etc.) in the United States and Canada.  Disaster relief under predecessor organizations to MDS was provided by volunteer laborers who paid their own transportaton, food, and lodging and brought their own tools.  Volunteers would remain in the area for days or weeks providing reconstruction assistance.

The first MDS organization was formed in Hesston, Kansas in 1950;  the second in Northern Indiana and Western Ohio in 1953.  Both of these groups were inter-Mennonite in membership.  By 1954, national coordination of MDS  was required, and Mennonite Central Committee stepped in to provide this administrative support.  In spite of the important work of Mennonite Central Committee, the organization remains decentralized, with regional chapters holding annual meetings and maintaining their own finances.

Sources: Snyder, William T. "Disaster Service." Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 31 January 2011.

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