Our History

Mennonite Partners in China (MPC),formerly China Educational Exchange (CEE), was founded in 1981 when five Mennonite church agencies partnered to send English teachers to China and accept visiting professors at Mennonite colleges in North America.

  • 1979: The president of Goshen College (Indiana), J. Lawrence Burkholder, visits China and signs an agreement with the Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Education for an undergraduate exchange.

Atlee and Winifred Beechy and Bert Lobe, Cee directors in the 1980's

  • 1980: A group of 22 students and their sponsors (Atlee and Winifred Beechy) spend one semester studying Chinese language and culture at Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu and 9 visiting professors from Sichuan colleges spend an academic year at Goshen College. This was the first undergraduate exchange (since the re-opening of China) between an American college and a Chinese education institution.

Doris and James Bomberger, first CEE teachers in China at Sichuan Normal University in 1981

  • 1981: The Sichuan Provincial Education Bureau invites Goshen College to send English teachers to colleges in Sichuan. The invitation is acted upon by five Mennonite church agencies that form CEE and send three English teachers to Sichuan to teach and invite two visiting professors to spend one year on a Mennonite college campus.
  • 1981: CEE sends a summer team of eight teachers to the city of Shenyang to teach in a short-term program at Northeast University of Technology. Atlee Beechy, Professor of psychology at Goshen College, becomes the first director of CEE. Mennonite church leaders participate in the first dialogue between Chinese and Western Christians (since 1949), held in Montreal. 
  • 1982: The program expands to include English teachers in China and visiting scholars in North America. A.C. Lobe from the Mennonite Central Committee becomes the first non-volunteer director of CEE 
  • 1984: The first agricultural and medical exchanges between Sichuan Bureau of Education and CEE take place. 
  • 1985: A large delegation of education and government officials from Sichuan visit Mennonite colleges and institutions. The Amity Foundation is formed and CEE is invited to second teachers to its education program.


MCC representative Earl Martin (left) meets with CEE teachers in Chongqing

  • 1987: CEE has 36 teachers serving in China during this academic year, with expansion to additional sites in Chongqing and Sichuan, as well as in Shenyang. 
  • 1988: A six-week summer Chinese language study program is begun in the city of Nanjing for all teachers.  
  • 1990: Myrrl Byler becomes the new director of CEE. Exchanges in agriculture and mental health take place. Two couples are seconded to the Amity Printing Press to give technical expertise to the printing operation.
  • 1991: CEE places its first teachers in Henan Province at the Luoyang Institute of Technology. 
  • 1992: CEE places 20 teachers in China, continuing to place from 20 to 28 teachers for most of the 1990s. Visiting scholars continue to come to Mennonite colleges. CEE places its first teachers in Beijing. CEE arranges a mid-year conference for all teachers for the first time in Hong Kong. 
  • 1997: At the request of the Sichuan Education Bureau, CEE hosts more visiting scholars (8-10), but only for one semester. CEE sets up a special program for scholars in Harrisonburg, where they audit classes at Eastern Mennonite University and also attend cultural-learning classes and activities arranged by the CEE office. CEE begins a five-week summer English program for persons wanting to teach in China short-term. 
  • 1997: The Canadian International Development Agency contracts with Mennonite Central Committee Canada to begin a poverty alleviation project in four provinces, covering eight counties. The Rural Development Division of the Amity Foundation partners with MCC and begins administering the project with help of local government officials. 
  • 1999: A delegation of senior church administrators from the Sichuan Christian Council and the Sichuan Religious Affairs Bureau visit Mennonite churches and agencies in the U.S. 
  • 2000: CEE begins social assistance programs in several poor Sichuan counties. Subsidies are given so primary school children can attend school, and a hearing intervention project begins. 
  • 2001: Full-time administrators are appointed to work in Beijing. A full-time social services projects director is assigned to work in Sichuan. 
  • 2002: CEE registers as a representative office with the government in Beijing. The total number of CEE personnel in China reaches 40, the largest ever. CEE begins support of the Nanjing Counseling Center. The first mainland Chinese participant in MCC’s International Visitor Exchange Program comes to North America.
  • 2003: The first participant in MCC’s SALT program goes to China to teach English and study Chinese while living with a Chinese family. 
  • 2004:  A group of 19 students from Eastern Mennonite University spend three weeks in China in May, fulfilling their cross-cultural requirement. Each year after this MPC hosts a group from either EMU or Bluffton University.  
  • 2006: MCC opens an office in Beijing with its first country representatives. CEE changes its name to Mennonite Partners in China.
  • 2007:  A small group of high school students from Sichuan take part in a four-week summer camp program in Pennsylvania. Students travel and are hosted by American families. 
  • 2007:  A delegation from Guangan (Sichuan) Handicapped Association visits rehab centers and homes in the U.S., arranged by MPC. An American learning tour visits China for several weeks. 
  • 2008:  MPC arranges business and factory visits in China for a group of MBA students from Bluffton University. This learning tour is repeated every other year.
  • 2008:  MPC and the Mennonite Central Committee respond to the devastating Sichuan earthquake. 
  • 2009:  MPC celebrates the 100th anniversary of Mennonites arriving in Henan Province.
  • 2010:  The first Summer Institute of Language and Culture is held in Chengdu. MPC teachers and a group of Chinese English language teachers meet for several days in what is to become an annual institute. 
  • 2011:  MPC assists in hosting the China Christian Council and State Administration for Religious Affairs for a special Bible exhibition in four American cities, including several weeks in Washington D.C. 
  • 2011:  MPC opened an office and helped to establish Zhouxiang Educational Consulting Company in Chengdu. The company will recruit Chinese students for North American Mennonite schools and support students and families during their studies overseas. 
  • 2012:  China West Normal University sends a group of 16 administrators to Bluffton University for short-term training in educational administration.
  • 2013: MPC arranged a semester-long cross-cultural program for 14 students from Eastern Mennonite University. A large group of church representatives committed to providing elder care facilities and support met in Shandong for a conference. 
  • 2014: A group of Chinese pastors were hosted by Mennonite churches in Saskatchewan for a pastors learning exchange. A group of Canadian pastors were hosted by counterparts in China in 2013. Chinese nursing home administrators were hosted by Mennonite Health Services at a conference and learning visits in Kansas. MPC hosted two different learning tours in China. 
  • 2015: With the shift of the MCC office from Beijing to Chuncheon, South Korea, MPC began to work more closely with MCC in administering programs in China.