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What was MCC Pax?

World War II produced an unprecedented social upheaval. Both the Axis as well as the Allies marshaled their entire populations to support their war efforts, either in military service or all out “war production.” The “Peace Churches,” namely the Quakers, Brethren and Mennonites were basically opposed to serving in the military and helped create a Civilian Public Service program which provided alternative service projects in the U.S. Though the program was successful and even innovative at points, it generally did not require sacrifice equal to those young men who served in the military machine.

One of the major consequences of the War, especially in Germany and neighboring countries was the huge numbers of people killed, left destitute, and/or were displaced. Refugees were everywhere. American Friends Service Committee, Brethren Service Commission and Mennonite Central Committee responded to this huge human tragedy even before the war was over (1944). But within six years, the Korean War was declared (1951, the Draft was reinstated and soldiers marched off to another war.

MCC workers in Europe, daily observing the wretched conditions of the refugees, concluded that the basic elements were there for an exciting new “CPS” program: 1) there was overwhelming need (recognized internationally by the massive Marshall Plan); 2) there would soon be available young COs, who could help build homes for refugees, and 3) the possibility of getting alternative service recognition overseas.

Thus Pax was born. Young men began to arrive in Europe (April 6 1951) even before the US Selective Service recognized the program. Refugee housing projects sprang up all over Germany, and soon development work was begun in Algeria, Bolivia, Greece, Paraguay, Algeria, and other countries. The Pax men unequivocally maintained they received more from their service than they gave.

The best book-length treatment of Pax history is “The Pax Story” by Dr Calvin Redekop, who was one of the co-founders and the first director of the Program. Used copies of The Pax Story can be found at ABEbooks and Amazon.

Third Way Café article on Conscientious Objection

An interesting article on Conscientious Objection can by found at The Third Way Café. Just follow this link to read it: http://thirdway.com/peace/?Topic=286|Conscientious+Objection

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