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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

Pax Work in Congo

By JOHN M. JANZEN

Initially published in
Mennonite Life, April 1961, 16, 2, p. 96

The Congo Pax program was originally
organized to relieve the missionaries of the
voluminous amount of incidental work that
had become necessary. During the pre-Pax
years the Congo missionaries had become
involved increasingly in building programs,
automotive mechanics, agricultural projects,
and other secondary, yet necessary, tasks. At
the same time the primary efforts of
education, medical work, and evangelism
had become more complex and involved.
In answer to this problem four young men
were sent to the Congo in 1953 under
Mennonite Central Committee auspices to
pioneer the Congo Pax program. It was an
immediate success. They were able to take
charge of many building projects, mechanic
duties and maintenance chores, so that the
full-time missionaries could concentrate
more thoroughly on their main work.

More Pax workers went out during the
following years till eventually an established
group of eight to twelve were distributed at
most of the eight Congo Inland Mission
stations. The East Africa Mennonite Mis
sion in Tanganyika also employed a number
of Pax workers. The schools, churches, and
hospitals built after the inception of the
Congo Pax program were largely a tribute to
efficient supervision by the young American
and Canadian fellows. Such things as
upkeep on mission vehicles and
bookkeeping also became their work.

As the program developed beyond the structure
and intent, the distinction between the
full-time missionary and the two-year Pax
workers became one of title rather than
effectiveness. John Hesse, experienced in
printing work, became the manager of the
Charlesville print shop. Larry Graber,
because of an interest in medical work, had
the opportunity to assist Dr. Jim Diller at the
Nyanga hospital. I found a chance to work
in the Kamayala school system as part-time
superintendent of the primary schools.
Robert Schmidt spent much of his time at
Kamayala in literature and educational
work. Others found unique opportunities
to fill in as ambulance drivers and at times
played the role of makeshift midwife by
necessity. Larry Bartel and Alan Siebert
lived in an African village for nine months
while constructing primary schools. More
recently, Paxmen Abe Suderman and Alan
Horst assisted in the combined United
Nations-Congo Protestant Relief Agency
food handouts following the civil war be
tween the Baluba and Lulua tribes. In short,
the Pax- men in the Congo could expect any
sort of assignment. Much of the
effectiveness of the program lay in this
flexibility, I think.

Specific skiffs were generally required to do
some of the more technical jobs such as
printing and mechanics. But all of the
fellows, I feel, contributed to an essential
quality in the effectiveness of the program
through prolonged personal acquaintances
with Africans in work and leisure. Often I
remember, the Paxmen had time to spend
with the Africans doing little things such as
hunting, swimming, and playing ball. Unlike
the senior missionaries, the Paxmen had no
family obligations, and could spend
evenings in African homes, chatting with
them around the fire. The real, though
intangible contributions of the Pax program
came through the long discussions with
Africans in their native languages, and
through a sincere empathy with their form of
life. Often this meant enjoying a meal of
grasshoppers or caterpillars; but at the same
time it meant vastly more. Such,
a seemingly insignificant gesture, was
evidence of a firm belief in their individual
value as human beings. The Paxmen who
got into the inner orbit of African affairs
through personal acquaintances, and became
noticeably interested in the culture of the
African peoples, contributed profoundly to
the cause of Christian brotherhood.
Incidentally, the Paxman who did this was
not at all homesick, either. One Paxman,
Larry Kaufman, gave his life for the cause.

Tentatively the program is reduced to a few
men because of the independence struggle.
Pax work of the future, however, will surely
create confidence and serve as a personal
expression of Christianity. I am convinced
that it is an effective one.

[See the following introduction of a related new book. –Admin.]

Crossing the Loange: Congo Pax Service and the Journey Home

Introducing a new book by

John M. Janzen & Larry B. Graber

“Congo Pax” is today the name of an online chat group of Congolese, based in London, who are interested in peace in their country. It would be neat if these global citizens of Central Africa were in touch with those of us who associate Congo Pax with alternative service in the 1950s and 60s in the same country.

Two former Pax-boys, Larry Graber and I, decided, in the years after our retirement, to re-visit our Congo experiences of fifty years ago and to share them with our families and anyone else who might be interested. Our sources, beyond our memories, were our
letters home kept by our mothers, and our photographs. During 2015 we read, selected and
transcribed excerpts, and reconstructed chronologies.
The result is described in one blurb:
[In this book] Two young Mennonite Pax men chronicle work, adventure and travel in the
Congo from 1957 to 1959, and their journey home through Africa, the Near East, and
Europe. Their letters provide a poignant look into late colonial Congo on the eve of
independence. Eye-opening experiences changed their attitudes about the Africans with
whom they worked, and set the course for their futures in anthropology and social work.

Crossing the Loange shows a slice in time in the Southern Savanna, the Congo, and the Pax
program there. We write about our work in carpentry, bookkeeping, radio transmissions,
mechanical upkeep of vehicles, work in the schools, medical assistance, ambulance runs, and in the later stages of our term, heading up construction teams and serving medical assistant for a missionary doctor.

The final section of the book is about our journey home, a four-month trip by
car and boat across East Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Our letters reflect our youthful puzzlement at the culture and customs we encountered, the friendships we made with the Africans with whom we worked, and most importantly, our significant maturation through adventures, crises, and responsibilities. These are themes that emerge in most Pax memoires.

The Congo Pax story (or stories) are few and far between in the overall writing and filmmaking about the Pax program’s existence from 1951 to 1976, considering that we account for more than sixty of a total of 1,200 volunteers.

The Congo Pax story can be readily divided into several phases:
1. Paxers as missionary aides with some remarkable responsibilities (1955-60); 2.
carrying on amidst the chaos and opportunity of independence (1960-64); 3. working with the independent church and development programs (1965-1970s); 4. forging links and relations with Congolese and on-going programs (1980s to the present). Our book is definitely of the first phase of Congo Pax, although it echoes the 4thphase of ongoing relationships. We trust that it will find interested readers and stimulate further public recollections by more of you who surely have many stories to tell.

John M. Janzen
jjanzen@iwichita.com

For a preview of the book, see  www.issuu.com/mennonitepressinc ./docs/crossing_the_loange

The book is available at Newton bookstores: Faith & Life, Kauffman Museum Shop, and Book ReViews, which handles it for online orders through AbeBooks.com ISBN: 978-0-692-50291-4

Guten Tag und Herita

A Pax Story from 1967-1969

By Sam Miller

In 1967 after two years of study at EMC I decided not to ask for another student deferment and to fulfill my Selective Service obligation. It had long been my vision to apply for the MCC Pax program and head overseas. Since my qualifications were limited I decided to accept whatever was available. Having studied German for two years at EMC and having spoken Pennsylvania Dutch as a kid, German was in some form indeed my “Mutter Sprache”, may well have contributed to a placement in Frankfurt, Germany. All was indeed fortuitous. As it happened the office in Frankfurt needed an office worker to do whatever was needed by John Wieler and Peter Dyck. Times, however, were changing in many ways and Peter Dyck was also ending his role as the long term relief and service director in Frankfurt to assume similar duties operating from Akron, Pa. So I became involved in this transition which included chauffeuring Peter to South German, Switzerland, and France to say thanks and good by.

The Frankfurt office was by late ’67 no longer the hub for workers passing through who needed many things as they traveled to more distant assignments or who were on route their home. As my role in Frankfurt was diminishing I was asked to go to Kolymbari, Crete to a place known as “Kemptron Acrokticris Anoptisios” an Agriculture Development Center.

Not being an agriculturalist, as were most of my fellow workers, I was assigned to maintenance, building of farm building and directing work campers from Mennonite Voluntary Service with youth coming from northern Europe and around the world. It so happened that MVS’s headquarters were located in the Frankfurt office next to the MCC office and I was very familiar with this agency, its director and mission.

MCC work in Greece began in the early 50’s in northern Greece. Being well received and well done a Cretean named Alexander Papadoros, a doctoral student in Germany, informed Bishop Irineos also Cretean, about the work of MCC and of their expertise in ag development. The Bishop known as a visionary and seeing the regular exodus of men leaving for the factories of northern Europe, wanted to create reasons for men find work on the island. The Bishop invited MCC to become involved at his diocease at his home in Kastelli, a church center. So first, a Technical School was established with the help of two MCC volunteers, Klaus Penner (a German) and Roy Kaufman(an American). Then in 1964 after visiting MCC projects in northern Greece the Bishop asked for a full scale development center be established on Monastery land near Kolymbari, Crete. By the mid 60’s ten Paxers were recruited with expertise in dairy, horticulture, poultry, and hogs. A feed mill was established. All of this was done to introduce new breeds and demonstration farming. Of course, this Cretean project used the many lessons learned from northern Greece as well as repeating the structure and dimensions of barns, chicken houses, and hog barns. The milk house had a sign saying “Pinita Galia ya iyea su” Drink milk for your health. Produce was harvested from the fields and greenhouses for use in the dorms for boys who were learning technical trades.

Those days we didn’t know about the now famous “ Mediterianean Diet” or the reasons for the general health and longevity of our friends and neighbors. The essence of the MCC presents in Crete was more fundamental than food and better breeds of cows, pigs, and chickens, we learned slowly that while our work was useful in a development sense, in fact seminal, our being there offered all of us a huge learning experience. We became students of the Greek language, culture, and the Eastern Orthodox faith. We made lasting friendships which changed us all.

Nine years ago three of us Paxers(and wives) returned to Crete to reconnect after 37 years. We visited the Bishop who was then 94 year old and just retiring that month. His gift to us was his exemplary service to his diocease and his ability to set up numerous public/private agencies to better the region. He had also renamed all of us with Greek names. I was Stammatis. Otherwise the changes were huge, with many cars, trucks, and hardly any donkeys in sight. Olive trees had been planted on seemingly any available space. Our neighbor Kid, Gorgi, was now 45. Within several days the town was a buzz with our being there and so our farm workers and wives all had a wonderful party for us at a local restaurant. It was cow Johnny, sheep Johnny, George Markolakus, Vasilee, all with wives and children. We passed out our old pictures of the past which were an instant hit. We could hardly leave.

During our stay Vi, my wife, managed to burn up a hair dryer by not having the right conversion for electricity. So, on our way out of town we stopped in Chania a regional capital looking for another hair dryer. We found a good store. As we shopped a manager stopped me to ask how it was that I was speaking Greek. After explaining as best as I could he was overwhelmed in thanks. “You know” he said, “I was one those boys in the dormitory and went to the technical school which has lead me to this business”.

So the rewards are special. I always have a heart for all things Greek. While my language skills are very limited I try to engage even our local Greeks in town, they are still my people.

This short account was written for presentation at the Gandhi Center when Pax was presented a Peace Award by James Madison University. Note it was actually not given because so many others stories to tell. Here it is now 8/8/2015.

[Rec’d for posting 8/11/2015]

 

 

Long-term ties in western Europe

In Enkenbach, Germany, Rainer Schmidt holds a photo of Pax volunteers walking down the same street where he and others continue to live in houses built by Pax.

A portrait of Artur Regier at 85.

At the the age of 85, Artur Regier vividly remembers the night he fled his family’s West Prussian farm.

It was 1945, and he was 15 years old. With gunfire from the Russian army less than two miles from their home, he, his mother and two brothers galloped away on horseback.

It would be nine years before they had a home of their own again.

They sailed on the Baltic Sea with more than 2,000 refugees on a boat built for 250, then spent three years living in a Danish camp.

Finally, in 1954, they moved into their own home in Enkenbach, Germany.

That home was built by young volunteers in Pax, an MCC program that provided Mennonites in the U.S. an alternative to military service and, in post-war Europe, helped to rebuild war-torn areas and to offer a bright spot of hope.

In Enkenbach alone, the efforts of Pax built 115 housing units and a building for the Mennonite church.

Enkenbach is full of stories like Regier’s — accounts of people who were forced to flee as youth and built new lives with the assistance of MCC and its Pax program.

There was Louise Sauer, who lived in a camp in Russia for two years, then in wooden barracks in Germany with no bathroom or running water. When her family moved into the new home, she says, “It was like heaven for us children.”

Edith Foth holds a photograph standing at a window.Edith Foth holds a photo of herself and her parents, Cornelius and Helene Foth, in the same window where the image was taken nearly 60 years ago.   Edith still lives in the home, built by Pax, that the family moved into when they came to Enkenbach after being displaced during World War II.

Or there’s Edith Foth, who left home with her family when she was just 10. “We thought in two days we’d be back home, but we never made it back,” she says.

Her family moved into a new Pax-built home on the first Sunday of Advent in 1954. “That was a great moment for us, and without MCC’s help, it would have never been possible for us to own a house again after World War II,” says Foth, who worked alongside Pax volunteers for several months.

Between 1953 and 1961, approximately 120 Pax “boys” went through Enkenbach. (Almost all participants were men, mostly young men, but a handful of women also volunteered in Pax locations.)

Their legacy lives on in more than just the physical homes they built. Children gathered at the Pax house for snacks and Bible study, listening to the radio and playing games of table tennis in the basement. Pax participants started their own choir, and refugee youth joined in—forming the seeds of what today is the Enkenbach Mennonite Choir.

Ervie Glick of Harrisonburg, Va., was a member of that choir while he served with Pax in Enkenbach, and he also remembers playing hockey in the winter with the youth from the Mennonite church. But his most vivid memory from that time is of Monday evenings when the Pax members went in groups of two to spend the evening with a family who had moved into one of the new houses.

The families would share photos and stories from the homes they fled and of the journey to Germany. “Airplanes would strafe their columns of refugees, their horses and wagons, and they would dive into the ditches and run to escape them, the airplanes. It was just awful,” he says. So families were very thankful once they could move into the homes built by Pax. “With the new homes, once they got established they could find meaningful employment and get their feet on the ground.”

Klaus and Greda Wiens smile standing in sunlight wearing jackets.Klaus and Greda Wiens stand outside their home in Enkenbach, which was built by Pax.  The Pax program provided an alternative to military service for Mennonites in the U.S. and helped rebuild war-torn Europe.

MCC relief in Europe wasn’t only in Enkenbach. Shortly after the war, food, clothing and relief supplies were distributed across Germany, and in the 1950s Pax built homes in several areas around the country.

France also received help rebuilding damaged areas. Many in the small town of  Geisberg remember 1946 to 1949, when MCC relief workers built houses as well as a nearby home for orphans.

Alfred Hege, left, Rene Hege, Jean Hege, Oscar Hege and Théo Hege walk around what was once a children’s home in Geisberg, France. This building is one of many that MCC helped to build in the small village in the late 1940s.

Here too, the memories are of more than construction. Though Théo Hege was only seven when the MCC workers arrived, he remembers having them at his family’s home on Sundays and receiving candy or stamps for his collection. “They introduced us to Christmas carolling as well as the sunrise service on Easter morning,” he says.

Now that he’s older, that relationship with MCC remains — though Hege is on the other side of the equation.

When Geisberg Mennonite Church collected relief supplies for Syrians, he helped contribute. “I think that program is an expression of Christian love to those who have less than we have,” Hege says. “We share what God gave us in his mercy.”

Agnes HIrschler and Jean Hege stand on the porch of a building watching a group of people load boxes into a container with a tractor in the foreground.Agnes Hirschler and Jean Hege, left, watch members of Geisberg Mennonite Church load a shipping container with relief supplies collected and packed by the church.

Sisters Agnes and Emma Hirschler, whose home was built by MCC, also helped put together kits and through that, Hege says, they “encouraged the younger generation not to forget the help we got when we were in need.”

The shipment, sent through MCC, was coordinated by the relief committee of the Swiss Mennonite Church (Nothilfe Gruppe, or Emergency Group) along with French churches. It contained 1,500 hygiene kits, 65 handmade comforters, 294 purchased blankets, 791 relief kits and 144 pairs of handmade socks along with supplies like towels and sheets.

In Germany, the Enkenbach Mennonite Church, where Regier, Sauer and Foth attend, also has donated money and supplies to MCC’s relief work through Mennonitisches Hilfswerk (Mennonite Relief), an organization of 60 Mennonite churches in Germany.

Now, 70 years after the war’s end, it’s a way that many whose communities received help through MCC can give back — passing on the blessing that they received to others whose lives have been upended by conflict.

“When Mennonitisches Hilfswerk calls for special offerings for MCC projects, I am always ready to give,” Regier says. “I always remember that I have received help from MCC when I was in need after World War II.”

Emily Loewen is a writer for MCC Canada. Nina Linton is a photographer from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

PAX service program, predecessor to the Peace Corps, recognized by Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence

From EMU News – Eastern Mennonite University website

By Steve Shenk

PaxGandhiCalCal Redekop, co-founder of Mennonite Central Committee’s alternative service organization Pax, accepts the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence Community Service Award from James Madison University Provost Jerry Benson (left) and Gandhi Center director Terry Beitzel (right) on behalf of MCC and Pax.   (Photo by Ervie Glick) Posted on May 4th, 2015

In 1951, Jay “Junior” Lehman, then a 21-year-old farm boy from Ohio, sailed by freighter to Antwerp, Belgium. He was among the first wave of conscientious objectors to participate in a new alternative service program called Pax. Reaching their eventual destination in Germany, Lehman and about 20 draft-age men labored to turn Nazi poison-gas bunkers into housing for World War II refugees.

In late April, Lehman, now 85, made another trip – not quite so far – from his home in Ohio to James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he and nearly 60 other “Paxers,” including organization co-founder and former leader Cal Redekop, received a community service award from JMU’s Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence.

Pax 1st project, Germany, 1951,

Pax, a program of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), was created in response to the reinstatement of the military draft in the United States after the start of the Korean War. Mennonites, Quakers, Brethren and other conscientious objectors could perform alternative service in Europe, and later in Africa and South America. Pax continued until 1975, three years after the draft ended. By the time the program closed, nearly 1,200 young Americans, and some Canadians, had served in 40 countries.

An ‘influential’ program

Nearly 300 people packed a reception hall at JMU to celebrate the organization’s legacy. Terry Beitzel, director of the Mahatma Gandhi Center, noted that Pax was receiving only the fourth award in the center’s 10-year history. The center gives a global nonviolence award, which has been presented to former President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter and South African anti-apartheid leader Desmond Tutu, and also the community service award, past co-recipients of which include restorative justice pioneer Howard Zehr, a professor at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), and JMU nursing professor Vida Huber.

“Pax was chosen for the award because of its contribution to establishing alternative service programs and influencing the formation of the U.S. Peace Corps, but primarily because of the emphasis on service to others,” said Beitzel, who has taken courses and taught at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and earned a PhD in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.

“Pax serves as an example of service and peacemaking for all of us today,” said JMU Provost Jerry Benson.

Redekop, now 89 and living in Harrisonburg, accepted the award on behalf of Pax and its volunteers.

“I’m only the handmaiden for Pax or handlanger – German for lackey,” he said, before calling up Ann Graber Hershberger ‘76, who chairs the MCC U.S. board. Hershberger, a nursing professor at EMU, spoke of the Pax legacy and how it affected her own MCC work, with husband Jim ‘82, in Central America.

Pax construction 1952 Germany

‘Paxers’ still connected

Redekop and Paul Peachey ‘45 dreamed up the new organization while the two were in Europe serving in post-war relief efforts with MCC. (Both Peachey, who eventually taught at EMU, and Redekop went on to academic careers in the field of sociology. Redekop is also a former business executive who has written widely on Christian ethics in business.)

Inspired by the Latin word for peace, the Pax program began in Europe with housing projects for war refugees, including German-speaking Mennonites from Ukraine, who were caught between the German and Soviet armies. Redekop, raised in the Midwest in an immigrant community of German-speaking Mennonites from Russia, was able to communicate in the low-German dialect.

The cultural exchange between Paxers and the people they helped was rich and rewarding. Lowell E. Bender ’67, current MCC board member and the evening’s master of ceremonies, was a Pax worker in Germany, Austria and Greece from 1961-63, where he witnessed the long-term devastation caused by the war while constructing new houses for families whose homes had been destroyed years before. Bender came back to the United States after his service and enrolled at EMU.

“We were all changed by our experiences,” he said, of the Paxers.

“Many of the Pax veterans still stay in touch with the people they served,” says Ervie Glick ‘62, whose interest in the German language and culture began with his Pax tour and eventually led to a teaching career as a German language professor (he retired from EMU in 2004). Reunions of the Salzburg Paxers, the unit Glick served in, have been held nine times since 1970, including once in Salzburg, Austria.

Paul M. Harnish ’64, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, visited a large, modern chicken processing co-op that he helped start years ago in an impoverished area of Greece. His little hatchery began with 500 chicks imported from the United States. Harnish remembers his delivery being complicated by the need to spend the night in a hotel with the chicks before he could return to the village.

Editor’s Note: The history of the Pax program is featured in two books: Urie Bender’s Soldiers of Compassion (1969) and Cal Redekop’s The Pax Story: Service in the Name of Christ (2001). A 2008 award-winning documentary Pax Service: An Alternative to War was produced by Burton Buller, Cal Redekop and Albert Keim, a former EMU history professor.

More photos here by Ervie Glick:

Pax Gandhi 2 Former Pax men and spouses gathered around tables to reminisce. Standing are Loyal Klassen, Mt. Lake, MN, and Henry Fast, Winnipeg, MB. Seated are Menno Riehl (PA) and Paul Harnish (PA), all having served in Greece.

Pax Gandi 3Upwards of 300 persons with connections to Pax gathered at JMU.

Pax Gandhi 4Pax men, Steven Stoltzfus (center) and Paul Wyse (right), swap stories from their time In Peru running large earth moving equipment for LeTourneau in the ’50’s.

Pax Gandhi 5-6Dr. Terry Beitzel (left), director of the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence, JMU. Lowell Bender, emcee(right), served in Pax, 1961 to 1963 in Germany, Austria,  and Greece.

Pax Gandhi 7 Cal Redekop transferred the award to Ann Graber-Hershberger, chair of the board of MCC USA.

 

Gandhi Community Award

Special Pax Event

The Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Non-Violence will host a ceremony at James Madison University to present the Gandhi Community Award to Pax.  All former volunteers and related service personnel are especially invited to attend Sunday afternoon, April 26, 2015, in the Festival Highlands Room.  Unite with friends and former colleagues in honoring a significant past contribution made in the name of peace and service.  Please inform your Pax colleagues  of this event.  Time and space available for reunions and conversation. 
    >> See more details in category Reunions

Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Non-Vilence
James Madison University
Terry Beitzel, director
gandhicenter@jmu.edu
beitzetd@jmu.edu

 

Salzburg Reunion 2014

A reunion of the Salzburg, Austria, Pax unit was held September 18-21 at Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario. PAX, the Latin word for “peace,” was the name given to Mennonite Central Committee’s overseas voluntary service for men of draft age in the middle of the twentieth century. From 1961 to 1963 Pax men built six houses and a church building in Hallein-Rif, Austria, for refugees from then Yugoslavia, most of whom had German roots.These refugees belonged to the Nazerener or Neutäufer church, an Anabaptist group.

 The refugees were living in old World War II barracks in Salzburg since the War ended in 1945. The Pax men also lived in the barracks until the new houses were ready for occupancy; then they moved in with the families while the church building was being completed.

Five couples celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2014.  L to R Glen and Lois Showalter, Joy and Corney Classen, Elsie and Gilbert Friesen, Eunice and Merle Brenneman, and Dorothy and Wilmer Weaver.
Five couples celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2014. L to R Glen and Lois Showalter, Joy and Corney Classen, Elsie and Gilbert Friesen, Eunice and Merle Brenneman, and Dorothy and Wilmer Weaver.

 Attending the 2014 reunion in Canada were 15 Pax men and 14 spouses, coming from Ontario, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas, Colorado, and Idaho. In a Sunday morning worship service Rick Cober Bauman, Executive Director of MCC Ontario, spoke to the group regarding current programs in Canada.

The group enjoyed a ride on the "Hornblower" at the base of Niagara Falls.
The group enjoyed a ride on the “Hornblower” at the base of Niagara Falls.
 A tour of the local area and Mennonite historical points included lunch at the home of Corney and Joy Classen in Vineland.

A tour of the local area and Mennonite historical points included lunch at the home of Corney and Joy Classen in Vineland.

 Previous reunions of the Salzburg Paxers, starting in 1970, were held in Goshen, IN; Hesston, KS; Mountain Lake, MN; Vineland, ON; Salzburg, Austria; Williamsburg, VA; Monterey, CA; Akron, PA; and Boise, ID. The group agreed to meet again in two years.

Back row:  Corney Classen, Glen Showalter, Merle Brenneman; Middle row:  Allan Mast, Gilbert Friesen, Wayne Yoder, Lowell Bender, Lester Yoder; Front row:  Ervie Glick, John Arn, Robert Unrau, John Driedger, Wilmer Weaver, David Kulp.
Back row: Corney Classen, Glen Showalter, Merle Brenneman;
Middle row: Allan Mast, Gilbert Friesen, Wayne Yoder, Lowell Bender, Lester Yoder;
Front row: Ervie Glick, John Arn, Robert Unrau, John Driedger, Wilmer Weaver, David Kulp.

 Pax men attending the reunion were Ervie Glick, John Arn, Robert Unrau, John Driedger, Wilmer Weaver, Dave Kulp, Allan Mast, Gilbert Friesen, Wayne Yoder, Lowell Bender, Lester Yoder, Corney Klassen, Glen Showalter, Merle Brenneman, and Dick Boschart.

Allan Mast
400 S. Streeter Ave.
Hesston, KS 67062-9058
620-327-4039

2006 REUNION OF THE SALZBURG, AUSTRIA, PAX UNIT By Ervie Glick

First published on this site:  February 2007

REUNION OF THE SALZBURG, AUSTRIA, PAX UNIT
September 8-11, 2006 Asilomar Conference CenterMonterey, CA
What?.When?…Where?

pax-salzburg-walk_8
Hiking the board walk along the Pacific Ocean, Asilomar Conference Center

Fifteen of the former PAX volunteers who served at the Salzburg project,along with 13 of their spouses, reunited at the beach-side convention center located at Asilomar on Monterey Bay Peninsula in California from Friday evening, September 8, to Monday noon, September 11, 2006.  David Gerber,current MCC representative located at Newton, Kansas, himself a former Greece PAXer,  was invited as a special guest.  Arrangements were capably handled by John Loewen, Reedley, CA, and Merle Bitikofer, Dallas, OR, and their spouses, with Merle Brenneman developing the program.

Why?

As other units do as well, the Salzburg Unit members have enjoyed a special close association with each other over the years since the late 1960’s.  In the early years, we attempted to meet every five years, including one time in 1995, when we met at the project site in Austria.  However, recently we have met every three years.  Each one would testify to the profound impact that our experiences of working and living together intensely during formative years of our lives has had on us.  It is the memories, the values instilled in us, and the purpose given to our subsequent lives that draws us to each other still, perhaps even more in our advancing years.

The Salzburg project was a lesser known effort lasting just three years from the spring of 1961 to the winter of 1964.  In the waning months, the unit dwindled to just a few men as wrap-up and finishing tasks brought it to a close, but it had reached as high as a dozen men at times.  Both the
Enkenbach project and the Karlschule of Vienna project were concluding in1961.  PAXers working on those projects were then brought together to start the Salzburg project.  Six houses, some of them single family dwellings and some for multiple occupants, and a church were constructed on land donated by Church World Service.  The land was gravelly river bottom at the convergence of the Koenigseeache and the Salzach rivers and nestled among the first of Austria’s majestic alps, “Sound of Music” country.  The recipients of these houses called themselves Nazarenes, an Anabaptist group with roots in Switzerland not unlike Mennonites but coming to Austria as refugees out of then Yugoslavia during WWII.  For 16 years they had lived in barracks built for the German army, unable to afford proper housing.  Their leaders learned of MCC and requested help.  Peter Dyck was instrumental in arranging for PAXers to provide the labor while the Neutauefer offices in Switzerland provided funds for materials.  PAX men lived among the families in those army barracks during the first 18 months of the project, then moved into the new houses as guests of the families until all work was done.

In 2003-4 major renovations and expansion was done to the church building.Four of our group were privileged to attend the dedication of the new assembly building and participate in festivities in June, 2004.  Frequent contact with families of the community occurs yet today, as a close familial affinity with them has persisted over the years.

As all ex-PAXers will testify, reunions draw out stories of fun and escapades of every color from participants.  Nearly forgotten events and attitudes are refreshed and sharpened.  A strong sense of brotherhood had developed.  Even our spouses have bonded together in unusual ways.  That is why we meet.

Who?

pax-salzburg-group18
Back Row: Lester Yoder, Belleville, PA; John Driedger, Gowanstown, ONT; Lowell Bender, Bittinger, MD; Alan Mast, Hesston, KS; Merle Brenneman, Arvada, CO; David Kulp, Pottstown, PA; Merle Bitikofer, Dallas, OR.

Front Row: John Loewen, Reedley, CA; Gilbert Friesen, Mt. Lake, MN; Corney Klassen, Jordan, ONT; Robert Unrau, Boise, ID; Ervie Glick, Harrisonburg, VA; John Arn, Lansdale, PA; David Gerber (guest resource person, MCC Midwest), Hesston, KS.

Attendees are pictured in the photo that accompanies this writing.  They are:

  1. John Arn, Lansdale, PA
  2. Lowell Bender, Bittinger, MD
  3. Merle Bitikofer, Dallas, OR
  4. Richard Boshart, Lebanon, PA
  5. Merle Brenneman, Arvada, CO
  6. John Driedger, Gowanstown, ONT
  7. Gilbert Friesen, Mountain Lake, MN
  8. Ervie Glick, Harrisonburg, VA
  9. Corney Klassen, Jordan, ONT
  10. David Kulp, Pottstown, PA
  11. John Loewen, Reedley, CA
  12. Allan Mast, Hesston, KS
  13. Robert Unrau, Boise, ID
  14. Lester Yoder, Belleville, PA
  15. David Gerber, special guest, Hesston, KS

These fifteen represent approximately 70% of those who spent significant time at Salzburg, not a bad representation.

Program

Key sessions began with a meditation and singing followed by sharing from four couples about significant events and developments in their lives. Blocks of free time on Saturday and Sunday allowed for special activities,including whale watching on Saturday and a stroll through Cannery Row and the marina of Monterey Bay on Sunday.  Of special importance to all of us
was input from David Gerber on Saturday evening on “MCC Today:  Challenges in a Broken World,” and on Sunday evening on “45 Years Later:  What is Our Current Peace Witness?”  In the first, David reported with the aid of photos about his MCC work in response to the tsunami of 2004 that devastated the coast of India.

pax-salzburg-bb12_12
Lowell Bender, Verna Bender, Joy Klassen, Corney Klassen, David Kulp

 

At another session, Ervie Glick reported about discussions held in March of 2006 at Akron regarding a possible launching of a kind of “PAX II”, more than likely to be called “International Voluntary Service” in response to a gift from the Bob Histand estate.  Al Keim, Calvin Redekop and Ervie Glick met with David Worth and Ron Flaming of MCC, as well as Orval Schmidt and Owen Hess of Goshen, and John Lapp, former MCC executive. MCC executive director, joined via conference telephone.  A feasibility study will be conducted by Mennonite World Conference.  Much work remains to be done.

Ervie L. GlickHarrisonburg, VA 22801ervieglick@comcast.net

 

 

 

MEDA Recognition and Note from Cal to Pax men

July 2011

Dear Pax men. The page you see reprinted from the Mennonite Historical Bulletin(July, 2011),  the official journal of the Mennonite Historical Committee, tells us that  Pax is considered one of two important events that began  in 1951.  What more can be said abut that it was your labors that allowed it to thrive and make such an impact.  Please tell others about at this recognition and to check the Pax website.

Thanks, Cal
Page From Mennonite Historical Bulletin, July 2011

If you can’t read it the lower 1951 article reads “Mennonite Central Comittee starts the Pax program, sending volunteers to Europe to work on post-war reconstruction projects. Pax soon expands to Africa, South America and Sougheast Asia. ( with an arrow pointing to Pax worker Dean Hartman at Bechterdissen, Germany


 

Dear Pax men:

My hope is that you will not be irritated with my insistent pleadings.  Roger Hochstetler’s call some days ago triggered this letter. He asked me if I knew Howard Landes, of the first Pax group had died. I had  heard of his passing, but the question Roger raised points to a major item. It seems Pax men are not immortal, and all of us will die but what we are doing with our pictures, letters and other evidence of the experience now becomes doubly important. Roger indicated that Howard had intended to write a history of the Greece Pax, but did not get it done. Howard had collected numerous sets of letters from Greek Pax men, but the statues of these is not clear but need to be  made available to others interested in Pax, which illustrates the urgency of the problem.

As you know,  Mennonite Archives at Goshen College  is the official custodian of Pax materials, it is already large, and is being heavily used. The issue is, how can we get Pax men to send their letters, pictures, documents etc. to the archives?  The Pax website is the best way to share information, but how many of our Pax Men use it?  Tom Sawin, (bless his soul)  is servicing the site, and Arlo Kasper is paying for the costs, (bless his soul as well)  So we need to inform Pax men to   check it, for all the information it contains. What are your suggestions. Can you help in this? Should we make this mailing list simply the general mailing list? If so, you have to help expand it, etc..  I do not have time to do this, plus other things pertaining to it….

Apropos, the Mennonite Historical Bulletin for July cites the Pax   program, started in 1951 as the  major event for that year. With Pax men going to the great beyond in increasing numbers, we need to act.

Lets make the Pax web site a major source of information. Have you all seen the wonderful account of the Pax activities at MWC in Asuncion last year?  The pictures are great.

Pax Christi
Cal Redekop (Harrisonburg, VA)

Thumbnail Sketch of John Arn’s PAX Service from 1960 to 1962

An open letter from John Arn


Dear Cal,

I felt like the least of the PAX men to give a thumbnail sketch of my PAX experience, only being a Mennonite by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.

I grew up in the Grace Mennonite Church of Lansdale, PA.  My father was a Methodist and my mother a Baptist.  They could not agree on which denomination to attend in Lansdale upon the death of my grandfather in 1943, so they decided to attend a new mission church in Lansdale, the Grace Mennonite Church of Lansdale.

Through the ministry of the church I grew in the grace of God, and when I was to join church, I was confronted with the call to be a conscientious objector in 1951.

Yet it was not until our new pastor came in 1954 that I began to understand what the Bible was saying about the peace position.

In 1957, he encouraged me to study at Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas; and it was there that I learned about the peace club and Jim Juhnke, one of its leaders.

After attending it for three years, Rev. H. Schmidt encouraged me to apply for MCC service through the PAX program upon my graduation from Bethel College in 1960.

So from 1960 to 1962, I served in PAX service in Europe.

My first service assignment was working at the Karlschule in Vienna, Austria.  I worked there until the 8 year program ended in the spring of 1961, when most of our unit moved on to Salzburg, Austria, to build a Siedlung there.  I was there only 6 weeks, yet I did help to begin the site. In Soldiers of Compassion, there is a picture of John Driedger and myself laying block for a basement wall at the Siedlung near Salzburg.  After 6 weeks, I was sent on to Greece to work there for the summer plastering the newly built unit house in Aridea, Pella, Greece.  I worked there during the summer, returning to northern Europe in early fall.

While in Aridea, lots were drawn for who would bring the meditation to the North American gathering of Americans in northern Greece during some Sunday celebration and I won the lot.  Not having any experience in public speaking, let alone in bringing a short sermon, Peter Dyck gave me a New English Bible and a house mother at the Aridea unit guided me through several topics.  By the grace of God, I was able to prepare and to speak acceptably at the gathering that was between Thessaloniki and Edessa located beside a busy main road by the ancient site of Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.  And it was after that I was encouraged to study for the ministry.

Peter Dyck also encouraged me to apply to study at AMBS Elkhart upon my return to the USA in 1962.  However, after I finsihed up in Greece, I helped Elfrieda Dyck wrap east zone refugee bundles for a month in Frankfort, Germany, and then I helped close out the Enkenback unit near Kaiserlautern, Germany, and then for the rest of my PAX assignment I worked on construction and maintenance at the European Mennonite Bible School near Liestal for about 10 months.

I returned back to the USA on the same ship that I went to Europe on, the Dutch Ship, THE WATERMAN.  And I did begin AMBS that fall, graduating in 1965 with an BD and exchanging it for an MDiv in 1974.  I served two churches as a full time pastor, the Herold Mennonite Church of Cordell, Oklahoma, and the Bethlehem Mennonite Church of Bloomfield, Montana.  It was at Bloomfield that I became a BK amputee, and in 1981 my wife Sarah (who just passed away May 10, 2011) and I served a 4 year term with the Commission On Foreign Missions of The General Conference Mennonite Church as missionaries in Taichung, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Upon the passing of Sarah’s father in 1985, we returned to North Wales, PA, and cared for her mother and my step-mother. And when my step-mother died in 1991, we moved into her house in Lansdale and have been there ever since while continuing to care for Sarah’s mother who passed in 2003.
At present, I myself have myeloma cancer and am in Lansdale.

So that is it, Cal.