Neckties make global ties for MWC

Volunteers sew donated ties into bags for Mennonite World Conference assembly

Mar 2, 2015 by and

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AKRON, Pa. — Mennonite World Conference is making the concept of “global ties” literal.

Children enjoy the neckties from Krefeld, Germany, before the ties made the journey to Pennsylvania to be turned into bags for the Mennonite World Conference assembly. — Gerda Landes

Children enjoy the neckties from Krefeld, Germany, before the ties made the journey to Pennsylvania to be turned into bags for the Mennonite World Conference assembly. — Gerda Landes

Each of the thousands of Anabaptists from around the world arriving in Harrisburg in July for the MWC assembly will receive a hand-sewn bag, created by the Mennonite Central Committee Material Resources Center from recycled materials.

As excitement over the bags has grown, materials have come from surprising places.

After attending the 2009 MWC assembly in Paraguay, Material Resources Center staff suggested that event bags be created for Pennsylvania 2015. The bags are made from donated fabric and neckties. They are made from the same pattern MCC uses for school kits it distributes to refugee children around the world.

In Krefeld, Germany, a city where Mennonites settled centuries before as silk weavers, children at the German Mennonite Convention used silk neckties for some of their activities. Generations ago, immigrants from Krefeld were some of the first to settle in Pennsylvania. When the connection was made, convention organizers decided to donate all 250 ties for MWC assembly bags.

Minister Koo Jin Joo, a South Korean diplomat to the United Nations, visited the Material Resources Center during a trip to Lancaster County and was impressed by the volunteers’ creativity in repurposing items. After returning home, he told his staff about the sewing room.

“There was a grandmother there who said that she needed thousands of neckties to use as shoulder straps for the book bags that they were sewing [for MWC] next summer,” he said. He asked the diplomats and staff to help, and in several weeks he had collected 34 neckties to donate.

8,000 and counting

Material Resources Center volunteers have been working hard. By the first week of January, 8,000 bags were already done, and volunteers were on track to have the rest completed in a few months.

Not only were the bags made from recycled materials, reports assembly organizer Liesa Unger, but they will serve another purpose after the assembly. Attendees can donate the bags back to MCC to be used for school kits, making the bags themselves recycled and recyclable.


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