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About Administrator

Pax Germany '55-'57, MCC Akron '57-'58. Currently "retired" in Asuncion, Paraguay -- freelance projects -- music, theater, church, schools & Kansas Paraguay Partners

New book re Backnang Mennonites — translated & available

Here is a new book fresh on the market about a Pax-built village in southern Germany specifically for Mennonite refugees from former Soviet lands in eastern Europe. While it is a familiar story in its broadest terms to nearly all Mennonites in the US and Canada, author Horst Klaassen gives it a deeply personal dimension by focusing on his fellow church members, chronicling where they came from and how they got to Backnang. He wrote it in German, and I translated it to English along with my colleague Mario Wenger.  Klaassen started with the Reformation, tracing the spread of Anabaptism into Slavic speaking territories, establishing themselves over centuries, but then being chased back to the West as a result of WWII.                                                                                                                                              .          Ervie Glick, co-translator, former Paxman                                                                                                                                                   The book is available online at KDP.    

See further detail in Category Publications.

The Mennonites of Backnang, Germany:

from Galacia, Prussia, and Russia to Württemberg

by Horst Klaassen (Author), Christine M.G. Fairfield (Editor), Ervie L. Glick (Translator), Mario R. Wenger (Translator), Harold F. Miller (Foreword)

Horst Klaassen’s booklet, “Die Backnanger Mennoniten,” begins with the flowering of Anabaptism in 1525 in Switzerland and the Netherlands which then converged from two simultaneous movements into one and spread eastward as a result of persecutions and official suppression. Klaassen summarizes the development of innumerable faith-based communities across lands now in parts of Poland, the Ukraine, and Russia. He traces the lives and tumultuous experiences of thousands during World War II, ending with the diaspora of Mennonites across the globe, but focusing on one town in Germany, Backnang, where they found peace and a chance to rebuild their lives. Many of those scattered beyond Backnang now reside in the English-speaking world of North America and elsewhere, making an English version of Klaassen’s work advantageous in keeping the story alive.
Importantly, Klaassen tells of the role of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) coming to the rescue of refugees stranded in a variety of camps in Western Europe, offering to build residences for them in the 1950s. Backnang is one of them. Numerous men of conscience volunteered for Pax – an MCC program for conscientious objectors – and served in Backnang.
                                                               __________________                                                                                           >> A note from Ervie Glick to fellow former European Paxmen:
It’s a new book about the Siedlung you already know of, Backnang.  It’s written by a member of the Backnang church, Horst Klaassen, who is no longer living.  Mario Wenger and I translated it from German so that English speakers in the US and Canada would have access to Klaassen’s chronicling of a significant segment of Mennonite heritage. He begins with the origins of Anabaptism in 1525 and traces its spread eastward to Slavic speaking lands, detailing the settlements and faith trials of each community by name, and then following their escape during WWII with Russian forces hot on their tails. The story culminates with an account of MCC’s role, including Pax, in building the village. They will celebrate 70 years in 2021, they tell me.
The book is available online at KDP.  Google it and enter the title. It should pop right up.
Paperback — November 14, 2020

Letters Home: Memories of a Pax Boy

by Ervie Lowell Glick (Author), 

Christine Marie Glick Fairfield (Editor), Wayne Yoder (Introduction)

Letters Home is a collection of letters written by a young Mennonite man from North Dakota who faithfully wrote home to his parents while spending two years in the early 1960s completing his alternative service through the Mennonite Central Committee Pax program. These letters recount the many adventures, cross cultural learning experiences, and connections he made with both the families whose homes he was helping to build in post-WWII Germany and Austria and the other young men he worked with.

As described by Ervie: It contains 43 full color, high resolution photos that I digitized from slides taken 60 years ago both in Enkenbach and in Salzburg.  Many Paxers will relate to the content and find similar events and opinions from their own experience wherever they may have served.  It’s what a 20 year old would write to his mom from abroad.
Paperback, March 6, 2020
Personal copies of ” Letters Home: Memories of a Pax Boy”  can be purchased from the publisher at Kindle Direct Publishing,  Simply search the title and the author’s name.


Tribute to Orville Schmidt

From those energizing days in the European Pax office at Mennoniten Haus,  Kaiserslautern, Germany, both of us trying to keep up with new ideas and initiatives of Director Dwight Wiebe, to a later summer toiling together on the Schmidt family farm near Freeman, SD, while rooting for the ol’ Brooklyn Dodgers; then, after exchanging/sharing the role of wedding attendant,  those decades of his insistent plans to help keep Pax “alive”– with the Pax Program Committee, the 50th Anniversary Reunion, the ’03 European tour, etc. — he kept pulling me in.  His love of music included playing the piano, but who knew?  He continued contact with everyone via real mail — email “isn’t personal.”   And I’ll close with the fact that  I never knew anyone daring to challenge Orv in a typing race!                                                  –Arlo Kasper   [Please add comment below, or send to for adding here.]

Obituary for Orville D. Schmidt

Orville D. Schmidt, 86, Wakarusa, IN, formerly of Freeman, South Dakota, died 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 at his home. He was born May 25, 1933, to Sam J. & Marie P. (Tieszen) Schmidt. On Aug. 18, 1963, he married Sandra (Kroeker) Schmidt.
Surviving are his wife, Sandra, Wakarusa, children, Larissa Hunsberger, Lincoln, Nebraska, Catherine (Jeff) Krehbiel, Rose Hill, Kansas, 2 grandchildren, Erica & Ian Hunsberger, siblings, Allen (Mary) Schmidt, Freeman, South Dakota, Fyrne (Robert) Schlenker, South Dakota and sister-in-law, Diena Schmidt, Henderson, Nebraska.
Preceding him in death are his parents and a brother, Gordon Schmidt.
Orville was a farmer and taught history in Henderson, Nebraska and Metuchen, New Jersey. He was a member of Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, South Dakota and a member of the Pax Program Committee.
Orville spent his younger years on a farm near Freeman, South Dakota. He graduated from Freeman Academy and attended Freeman Junior College where he received his AA degree transferring to Bethel College in Kansas to finish his Bachelor’s Degree. Orville often spoke of teachers at the Freeman schools and Bethel College who had an impact on his life. A very major influence was his time spent in Europe as a “Paxman” from 1955-1957 and the following year as a student in Wuppertal, Germany. A trip to Moscow to participate in the  7th International Youth Festival was also very inspirational. These experiences changed his Life View dramatically. The Pax experience was so strong that he organized with others a pax tour reunion in 2003. A video of the history of the program was made during that reunion.
He returned to the states and began studies at the University of Chicago in Renaissance History. He took a job at Henderson High School teaching History and English and directing the school plays. There he met his future wife Sandra. After marriage the couple moved to New Jersey where Orville taught a course in Western Civilization at Metuchen High School while Sandra finished her MM degree. Together, they spend 3 years in Austria studying, traveling, learning German and enjoying new cultural experiences.
After 3 years in Europe the couple returned to Chicago and Orville once more enrolled at the University of Chicago and began studies in Medieval history and architecture. During these years two daughters were born – Larissa and Catherine. A move to Wakarusa, Indiana closed the Chicago studies phase.
Orville was attracted to farming by his brother, Gordon, and land was purchased in the Tilden Nebraska area. A close relationship developed between Orville and the farm manager, Randy Score. Together they planned and implemented the operation until Randy’s unexpected death. Orville did not feel he wanted to work with anyone else so the land was sold.
Orville was an interesting mix of interests – farmer as well as intellectual pursuits – and he retained an avid interest in both areas for most of his life.
In his last years he returned to his reading and writing interests until his health no longer allowed him to continue. His mind remained active and his love of music helped him weather the final days of disability.
Funeral services will be 1:30 p.m. February 8, 20020 at Walter Funeral Home, Freeman, South Dakota. Burial will be in Schartner Mennonite Cemetery, Rural Marion, South Dakota. Memorial donations may be directed to Mennonite Central Committee.
Online condolences may be sent at


Re: Horst book plus

Harrisonburg, VA

March 28, 2019

Dear Pax survivor,

I have just finished reading “Eight Little Words: How God led a Mennonite farm boy to a remote town in Nepal” by Fern Horst and Alyssa Reitz (daughter and grand daughter).

Like Ervie, I could not put it down until I got to the end, which is not often the case for me. I will not attempt to review it here. It has too many interesting aspects and levels of information and meaning. But I will say that this is the first Pax book I have read where the story is told from being born on a rural Maryland farm in 1933 until the present moment where Otho is 86, living close here in Virginia! The story is a transcription by a daughter and granddaughter of Otho’s apparent amazing story telling ability. It rings true—many of the persons, names, places, events, and institutions I experienced, and thus it is especially helpful and meaningful for me. This is in part because his Pax term (1956-1959) was relatively close to my Pax life (1950-1952). It is virtually a textbook, with unlimited references and details. Sadly, it lacks an index; I predict the second edition will have one.

Otho’s book is available on at or directly from Otho at 7725 Botha Rd, Bealeton, VA 22712, for $22, including shipping.

How might Otho’s book be used to encourage others to write their Pax stories? That someone of the next generations should pick up the story and present it in a loving and enthusiastic manner for present day readership leads one to think that more could follow. Who might write a review of the book and submit it to Mennonite World Review and The Mennonite? Introductory material has been posted to the website Do you know of a student who could develop a bibliographic survey and annotated bibliography of extant Pax literature as a senior project? Or of a PhD researcher who would focus on the tremendous variety of persons and the various roads they have taken subsequently to Pax? That would be most interesting.

Talk it up among your family and acquaintances, and send us your ideas.

Calvin Redekop                                Ervie L. Glick

1520 Hawthorne Circle                1532 Hawthorne Circle

Harrisonburg, VA 22802               Harrisonburg, VA 22802

540-564-3641                                   540-564-3658