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"The facts about nonresistance among the Mennonites of America": Challenges of quantifying U.S. Mennonite responses to military conscription during World War II.

Students of the Mennonite experience in America are familiar with data suggesting that four of ten drafted Mennonites chose regular military Service during the Second World War, 14 percent chose noncombatant military Service, and fewer than half--46 percent--elected Civilian Public Service. Percentages for specific Mennonite branches and Conferences varied, from the Mennonite Brethren in Christ (today a part of the Missionary Church), which saw few of its men choose conscientious objection (CO.), to the Old Order Mennonites, all of whose draftees, according to the published data, were C.O.s.

For some observers at the time the data were disappointing. "Only seventy percent loyal!" Harold S. Bender lamented in 1943 when reporting the fact that 30 percent of draftees from his "Old" (or "M.C.") Mennonite Church had selected combatant or noncombatant military duty. (1) For others the numbers provided fodder for comparing various Mennonite branches, or Mennonites in various regions of the country. More recently, some scholars have used the data to highlight a lacuna in Mennonite historiography--namely, research into the experience of Mennonite soldiers. (2)

This research note does not engage these agendas. Instead it calls attention to problems with the prevalent data--problems that those collecting the data recognized. It also calls attention to areas of research and interpretation that remain open, especially with regard to deferments, and with a simple definition of conscientious objection that measures rejection of military Service solely by participation in Civilian Public Service. While annotating the letters of Harold Bender for the Mennonite Church USA Archives in Goshen, Indiana, Theron F. Schlabach uncovered correspondence that sheds light on the limitations of the draft census, particularly the Omission from most published reports and analyses of the data of men who received agricultural deferments.


Seeking to demonstrate military preparedness in the context of an emerging world war, in September 1940 Congress passed, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed, the Selective Training and Service Act, also known as the Burke-Wadsworth Act. Registration and conscription began the next month. Drafted men were expected to accept regular combatant assignment within the armed forces (which carried the code I-A), but a noncombatant option (I-A-O) was available as well. In addition, local draft boards had the prerogative of deferring a draft-eligible man into one of several categories of "work of national importance" other than the military. These categories included employment in medical work (II-A), war production industry (II-B), and agriculture (II-C), as well as hardship and privation to dependents (III-D), clergy or divinity Student (IV-D), and more.

"Work of national importance" was also the cornerstone of the alternative service program, known as Civilian Public Service (C.P.S.), that historic peace churches had negotiated with Selective Service in 1940 while the Burke-Wadsworth bill was winding its way through Congress. When finalized, C.P.S. placed conscientious objectors with convictions against noncombatant service (classified with the code IV-E) in church-managed work camps and units where they provided labor under civilian direction for various public agencies and projects. In May 1941 the first C.P.S. camp opened, a camp near Grottoes, Virginia, managed by Mennonite Central Committee (M.C.C.) and carrying out work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. (3)

After Pearl Harbor the number and percentage of registered men who were drafted increased sharply, as did pressure to enlist voluntarily. In 1942 Harold Bender, in his distinct but overlapping roles as chair of the Peace Problems Committee of the (Old) Mennonite Church and chair of the M.C.C. Peace Section, initiated a census of Mennonite men facing conscription in the U.S. The origins and undertaking of the draft census are complicated by the fact they were carried out by two groups--Peace Problems Committee and Peace Section--with different constituencies and sets of responsibilities, but linked through Bender. The overlap and mixed reporting of the results in different places and for different audiences means that correspondence about the census and its results are scattered in several different archival collections and that it is difficult to reconcile or explain the sometimes slightly different figures that are listed in different iterations. No doubt figures were corrected and updated as church leaders reviewed preliminary reports. (4)

The 1942 draft census made use of questionnaires, sent to congregational leaders in all Mennonite and Amish branches. The survey asked for a "List of all drafted... including those discharged from C.P.S. or the armed forces." Ministers, not the draftees themselves, completed the questionnaires; and for each name, the minister could indicate status as "I-A" (regular military), "I-A-O" (noncombatant military), or IV-E (conscientious objector approved for alternative service). Other information solicited by the form included the educational attainment, church standing, and occupation of each draftee. The survey aimed to gauge the sort of factors that influenced the men's decisions to select either military or alternative service when drafted, and the form reflected a sociological orientation that understood the influence of peer groups as key elements in a person's life in addition to church participation and membership. For men in the armed forces, "including volunteers," a separate form requested that the minister give additional information, including "moral character," and a place to "Comment on why this man entered the Army or Navy." A later round of questionnaires, which collected information as of December 1, 1944, included a column for "age when drafted." In 1947 a final survey update was conducted, in the midst of demobilization. (5)

The 1944 questionnaire did ask for the total number of men in each congregation who had received a draft deferment, but provided space only for a numeric "Total now in deferred classes," broken down into II-C (agricultural deferments) and "other." (6) The survey solicited no specific information about deferred men--no names, occupations, marital status, reasons surrounding deferral--nor was there any place on the form to include such information.

The most complete analysis of the draft census results was made on the basis of the 1944 survey and was done by Howard H. Charles, then a Goshen Biblical Seminary student and later a noted New Testament scholar. Charles's report, which ran to twenty-one pages of interpretation, in addition to fourteen pages of tables, tabulated all the various groups' data as of December 1,1944, but focused on parsing the (Old) Mennonite numbers. In a slightly condensed form, the report was published as "A Presentation and Evaluation of the M.C.C. Draft Status Census" in Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Conference on Mennonite Cultural Problems, which is the form most often cited. (7) The results of that analysis, portions of which were reprinted in the conference proceedings of various Mennonite branches, as well as in books such as Service for Peace, by Melvin Gingerich, helped cement the idea that more than half (54 percent) of Mennonites facing the draft had chosen military service in either combatant or noncombatant roles. (8)

As historians and teachers we have been uneasy in our use of these World War II draft census data because they can be easily misconstrued. Apart from whatever methodological and practical shortcomings and clerical errors the census might reflect, the numbers include only the men who were ultimately inducted into either military or C.P.S. service. Yet because the percentages provided total 100 percent we have noticed that students frequently assume that the results summarize all Mennonite men registered for the draft. In fact, only 37.7 percent of Mennonite men registered were forced to choose among the three options--combatant, noncombatant, or conscientious objector--that the draft census charts convey. In other words, about two-thirds of draft registrants--more than 8,000 men--received deferments of one or another kind, very often because they worked in agriculture. Others won ministerial deferments or deferments for some nationally significant skill or job categories such as post office employee. In Hopedale, Illinois, three young men from the Mennonite church there received farm deferments. One of those men, Ivan J. Kauffmann (b.1922), later a pastor and denomination executive, recalled that the decision to ask for a farm deferment was his father's more than his, and that he and at least one of the other two young men would have chosen C.P.S. if the local draft board had denied their farm work requests. (9)

Very little analysis or even acknowledgement of deferred draftees, such as Kauffmann, show up in the literature, apart from accurate but very brief references in the Charles report and in Hershberger's The Mennonite Church in the Second World War. Hershberger quoted the Mennonite bishop John E. Lapp, of the Franconia Conference in eastern Pennsylvania, who suspected that many men in his branch of the church who received farm deferments would have declared conscientious objection had they been required to register their convictions publicly. (10) Hershberger also recognized that the eastern "Old" Mennonite conferences--Franconia, Lancaster, Washington-Franklin, and Virginia--had striking low rates of induction, reflecting longstanding patterns there of local officials dealing with conscientious objectors simply by granting deferments without much fanfare, in contrast to practices in other parts of the country where peace church men were often forced to defend their beliefs before highly confrontational draft boards. (11)

When teaching, and occasionally in print, (12) we have mentioned to students and others that the World War II draft census data reflect only about a third of Mennonite registrants and that we cannot too quickly assume, for example, that only 46 percent of draft-age Mennonite men endorsed nonresistant pacifism or that electing Civilian Public Service is the only measure of conscientious conviction. Anecdotal information and family lore, such as Ivan Kauffmann's account, support John E. Lapp's hunch that a good number of rurally-based men who worked on farms, or sought work on farms, would have chosen C.P.S. if they had been required to make such a choice. (13) However, we were not aware of sources from the time that specifically addressed the omission of deferment in the draft census. Without such data, scholars can only speculate on how best to interpret or present the statistics.


Two recently uncovered letters shed light on how contemporaries were thinking about the Draft Census and the problem of how to read the data in light of the very large number of deferments. On September 17, 1945, Bender responded to a query from Melvin Gingerich, then a professor at Bethel College (Kan.) and soon to head the Mennonite Research Foundation in Goshen, Indiana. In a letter apparently not now extant, Gingerich must have asked about a project to follow up the draft census. Bender "appreciated" Gingerich's "comments on the problem of getting adequate statistics on the classification of deferred Mennonite men." "There are many obstacles," he wrote, "to getting a valid report...." Nevertheless, he still felt "we should try it. We are assembling all the suggestions we can from various sources and plan to proceed before long." (14) Indeed, earlier that year, under the name of the Peace Problems Committee, Bender had sent postcard reminders to some pastors who had completed the 1944 census but neglected to indicate the number of men in their congregation who had received deferments. Bender thanked pastors for returning questionnaires, "but on checking the report we note that you omitted the number of deferred men. Will you therefore please return this card with the desired information." (15) Whatever Gingerich's interests in tracking deferment, the project that he took up in 1947 centered on how churches related to men who returned to their communities following military service, and whether they were "lost" or "reconciled to" the church, and not on draft deferments or the circumstances or convictions of men who had received deferments. (16)

The question of quantifying wartime nonresistance, though, did not go away. Bender returned to the topic in late 1947 in an exchange with Dutch Mennonites, and in doing so he discussed at some length the matter of deferment in the broad picture of U.S. Mennonite response to conscription.

Dutch Mennonites, it seems, had become aware of the U.S. Mennonite draft census numbers, and especially of the statistic that nearly 55 percent of American Mennonites had accepted military service in some form or another. This data point became a hot piece of evidence in post-war, intra-Mennonite debate in the Netherlands for and against pacifism. Learning of the Dutch Mennonites' arguments and the place of the U.S. draft census numbers within them, Bender penned a four-page essay entitled "Facts About Nonresistance among the Mennonites of America." He then sent it to Simon Henri Nicolaas Gorter (1885-1967), a well-known Dutch Mennonite pastor and editor of the newly established Dutch Mennonite periodical Algemeen Doopsgezind Weekblad. (17)

"I am very much interested in the debate which is going on in Holland for and against nonresistance," Bender wrote, a debate "which the Dutch Mennonites will need to decide for themselves." Yet, "it would be unfortunate... if this debate would be influenced one way or the other by faulty statistics or incorrect information or interpretation." The enclosed explanation, Bender suggested to Gorter, might be published as "a brief statement to the Weekblad." (18) And in fact, Gorter had the following piece translated and included in the Weekblad of March 6,1948. (19)


The Facts about Nonresistance among the Mennonites of America (20)

There seems to be some confusion in the Netherlands regarding the status of nonresistance among the Mennonites of the United States and Canada. May I offer a few comments which may help to reduce this confusion.

1. American Mennonites do not hold nonresistance to be the primary doctrine of the Christian faith. Rather, they consider it to be one of the fruits of the Gospel, although certainly an essential one.

2. All Mennonite branches and conferences in North America without exception have committed themselves formally and completely in principle to the historic Mennonite position of nonresistance. This commitment was strengthened rather than weakened during the recent World War II.

3. With few exceptions all the ordained ministers of all the Mennonite conferences conscientiously supported this position during the past war, and today stand by this position.

4. As in other matters of faith and life in a church organization, not all individual members of the Mennonite Church supported the official position of the church during the war, nor do they do so today. This minority varies in size and in basic position from one conference to another and from one congregation to another.

5. In two-thirds of the Mennonite churches of the United States (80,000 out of 120,000 baptized membership), members accepting military service in any form are excommunicated. This policy was applied during World War II.

6. While all Mennonite groups in North America agree in adhering to nonresistance, not all congregations are equally agreed that noncombat service (medical or hospital service, for example) should be refused. There has been a gradual clarification and unification of thinking on this point, so that today the great majority of American Mennonites consider noncombatant service inconsistent with true nonresistance. However, according to the United States law governing military service in the past war, both civilian and noncombatant service were offered to conscientious objectors, and both forms of service were granted only on the basis of petition of the candidate claiming to be a conscientious objector to war and military service. Those Mennonites who accepted noncombatant service considered themselves to be conscientious objectors and are so rated in government reports.

7. Some Mennonites did accept full combatant military service both in the U.S.A. and Canada. Those who lost their lives in the service naturally are recognized along with other war dead in war memorials. However, it would be wrong to infer too much from the presence of Mennonite-appearing names on war memorials. Thousands of people in the U.S.A. and Canada today bear "Mennonite names" who no longer are members of the Mennonite Church. General L. B. Hershey, director of the entire military draft program in the U.S.A. during World War II, bears a "pure" Swiss Mennonite name, and descends from Mennonite ancestors. Nothing can be inferred from this however, about the status of nonresistance among Mennonites in the U.S.A. If names on war memorials actually represent sons of Mennonite parents, it still remains to determine whether they were ever members of the Mennonite Church, or if so, whether they were excommunicated for joining the army.

8. The statistics on participation in the military service by Mennonites of the United States and Canada during the past World War are not yet complete. A provisional but incomplete report as of December 1, 1944, prepared under my direction, has been published in part. However, it must be remembered, (1) that is applies only to the United States and not to Canada, since no statistics are yet available for Canada, and that (2) the statistics reflect the position before the war was finished. The final draft census which is now being taken may reveal a shift in the statistics. (3) That part of the statistical report which has been published omits some very significant items, reporting only the position of those men who were actually inducted into service. It is important to know this, since the majority of Mennonite men of draft age in the United States were not inducted, but were excused from service. It is impossible to determine, from the record of only those who were inducted, what the total position of the Mennonite Church in the United States on nonresistance is. It is true that of all the Mennonite men who were inducted, sixty per cent were classified as C.O.'s either civilian or noncombatant, and forty percent were classified as regular soldiers. However, since of all the men of military age only thirty-five percent were inducted it is clear that only about fourteen percent of all Mennonite men of draft age actually accepted military service and thus forsook the nonresistant principle. What the sixty-five percent of exempted men would have done had they been inducted cannot be said today with assurance. Since, however, the majority of these men were deferred for farm service, and since the nonresistant position is strongest among our rural congregations, the presumption is rather that a still greater proportion of these men would have taken civilian service rather than military if inducted. One attempt has been made at an objective determination of this proportion. In a typical conference district with over four thousand baptized members, all the men of draft age not inducted but deferred for any reason were asked to report their actual conviction on an unsigned blank. Ninety-five percent of these professed that they would have taken civilian service if inducted. If this ratio holds for all groups, which is doubtful, very few of the exempted men would have renounced their nonresistant faith. My personal estimate is that of the total number of Mennonite men of military age (18-45) a maximum of one-fourth would have accepted military service, if all had been inducted. This is serious enough, but not as serious as a superficial reading of the partial statistics already published might indicate.

9. More important than the present situation is the trend. There seem to be some observers in Holland who hold that the trend in America is away from nonresistance and that as the American Mennonites lose their rural character and cultural isolation they will follow the example of the Dutch Mennonites and inevitably surrender their nonresistance. Whether this prophesy [sic] is based on objective considerations or is only wishful thinking by those who hold it to be a mark of progress to surrender nonresistance is not known to me. I would challenge the prophecy on two objective grounds: (1) the interpretation of Dutch Mennonite history is questionable. Did Dutch Mennonites surrender nonresistance by intelligent deliberate choice based on principle, or because of indifference and spiritual decline, and a consequent capitulation before the "world"? (2) The interpretation of American Mennonite history is most questionable. The way to determine a trend is to trace the record of the past. The incorrect assumption behind the above prophesy [sic] is that in previous wars, the American Mennonites had a better record that in World War II. The evidence does not support this assumption. On the contrary, careful historians tell us that the record in the previous wars (American Revolution, Civil War, World War I) was rather worse than in the recent war. World War II, a severe test, produced our best record on nonresistance. This record, it is true, should have been much better. We can only be humble in the face of the evidence of weakness, and hope to learn from our mistakes.

What of the future? It would be rash to predict. We can say however that the American Mennonites are rallying their strength and their resources; they are by no means idle. They face the tests of the future more united, more determined, and better equipped than ever before to wage a successful campaign against the forces that threaten their nonresistant faith. They are aware of the desperate state of our modern world and of the demonic forces at work in it. They are aware of the forward march of militarism and the increase of pessimism, even among Christians. But by the help of God they propose not only to stand firm on the ground of the historic Mennonite heritage of the nonresistant faith, but also to seek to apply it more intelligently in the modern world, and to witness to all men by word and deed that Christ's way of love and the cross is "the more excellent way."


Clearly Bender's essay conveys his belief that the widely reported results of the World War II draft census--results that included only those who elected a military option or C.P.S.--were insufficient and an easily misunderstood picture of all Mennonite men's response to conscription. So it behooves us, as historians, sociologists, and peace studies scholars examining the Mennonite experience of that time, to use the draft census numbers with more care than we often have done, and present our qualifications clearly. (21)

Further research on deferments of all sorts, and especially of farm deferments because they were so numerous, also awaits. Deferment remains remarkably unexplored even though it marked the wartime experience of more than 8,000 Mennonite and Amish men in the United States, as well as their families, employers, and communities. The window of opportunity for collecting oral histories is now largely closed, but surely historians should be more attentive to references to farm deferments in memoirs, obituaries, genealogies, and general family lore. In the early 2000s, Al Albrecht (1924-2008), a Goshen College professor emeritus, who had spent May 1942 to November 1945 working for farmer John G. Miller (1903-2000), near Shipshewana, Indiana, on a farm deferment, solicited stories from men who had been deferred for agriculture work. He presented a few of his findings in the Mennonite Historical Bulletin; but further work could be done with the materials he collected. (22)

There is plenty of scope for speculation on how those with farm deferments--or other deferments--might have responded if draft boards had demanded that their draftees choose either the military or C.P.S. Was a farm deferment a near stand-in for conscientious objection? Howard Charles speculated that "many of the men deferred in 2-C probably originally had a 4-E classification but were encouraged to seek farm employment in order to evade the draft." (23) Evasion it might have been, but it was also a way to earn some money, perhaps support a family, money which IV-E classification and C.P.S. service did not provide. (24) And surely some Mennonites and officials might have viewed farm work as an expression of conscientious objection akin to C.P.S. For example, in August 1941 an Old Order Amishman, John Glick, living in eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, reported that "A conscientious objectors meeting was held at the Bishop David Fisher home last Friday, attended by several authorities from Washington, D.C." They discussed "possibilities" for "attempting to keep our 'boys' out of the camps, as there is a labor shortage on farms, and they are needed for Agricultural work." (25)

All too often discussion of Mennonites and World War II equates conscientious objection and participation in C.P.S. If we can marshal the evidence, the definition of conscientious objection must include those who resisted participation in the military through means other than C.P.S. And if the evidence eludes us, then we must use caution and qualifications when we use the prevailing statistics on Mennonites' conscientious objection in World War II.

Finally, the Bender correspondence is another reminder of global connections that permeate Mennonite history, and the international comparisons that await exploration. How did discussion of pacifism and conscientious objection in Europe draw on examples and discourse from North America, and vice versa? What kinds of argument, negative examples, and allusions did Mennonites on either side of the North Atlantic draw from the other and employ for their own purposes? Within North America, how did the Canadian experience of farm labor during the war compare with farm deferments south of the border? (26) These and other subjects are worth considering as we more carefully quantify U.S. Mennonite responses to military conscription during World War II.

Call for Papers: "Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Traditions Encounter Borders and Boundaries," at Eastern Mennonite University on June 22-25, 2017. Twenty years after the watershed conference The Quiet in the Land? Women of Anabaptist Traditions in Historical Perspective in 1995, new topics, approaches, and viewpoints invite further examination of the constructions of gendered experience within groups in the Anabaptist tradition. The theme "crossing boundaries and borders" can and should encompass a wide range of disciplines, approaches, and topics, and we seek submissions from scholars, students, activists, and practitioners, as well as literary, performing, and visual artists. Crossing might entail traversing the lines between public and private spaces; church/community and "the world"; quietism and activism; expected decorum/silence and speaking out; gender constructions; sexualities and gender self-identities; race, ethnicity, and class; religious and theological belief systems; nation states in the making of transnationalism; disciplinary expressions. A limited number of travel grants will be available, with highest priority going to presenters coming from the global south and students. Please submit a one-page CV and a 250-word abstract for a paper, a creative performance or presentation, or a complete panel/workshop session (with presenters indicated) to, by September 1, 2016. For more information, please see:

Call for Papers: "Remembering Muted Voices: Conscience, Dissent, Resistance and Civil Liberties in World War I through Today," October 19-22, 2017. This interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial (Kansas City, MO), will explore the experiences of those groups and individuals who raised their voices against the war, sometimes at great cost. A fuller conference description is available at: We invite proposals for papers, panels, posters, roundtables, and workshops that engage in diverse ways with issues of conscience, dissent, resistance, and civil liberties during World War I, in the United States and around the world. We encourage proposals that examine historical and contemporary parallels to the war. Strong conference papers will be given consideration for publication in special issues of Mennonite Quarterly Review and Peace & Change. Topics might cover: war resistance as an expression of religious conscience (Amish, Brethren, Catholics, Hutterites, Latter Day Saints, Mennonites, Methodists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Quakers, etc.); secular dissent and resistance to war (feminists, socialists, and other movements and communities); the costs of war (economic, political, social, physical, psychological, etc.); civil liberties in World War I and war today; race, empire, and World War I; the legacy and relevance of World War I; peace activism to the present; the causes and prevention of war: World War I and since; teaching World War I and peace history in high school and college; memory, memorialization, and the public history of World War I. The program committee invites interested participants to send a one-page proposal focused on the theme of the conference by January 31, 2017, to John D. Roth at

Conference: "Transformed by the Word: Reading the Bible in Anabaptist Perspectives," February 12, 2017, Augsburg, Germany. Next year marks the beginning of a 10-year series of events--Renewal 2027--sponsored by Mennonite World Conference to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement. This conference, marking the opening event of Renewal 2027, will explore how Anabaptist-Mennonites around the world have engaged Scripture in the past... and how Scripture continues to be relevant today. The event will include worship and singing, examples of biblical interpretation from the global church, insights from ecumenical partners and an opportunity for all participants to participate in biblical interpretation.

Theological Symposium: "Mennonite Catholic Theological Symposium: Intercessory Prayer," October 1, 2016, University of Notre Dame (Geddes Hall Auditorium), 8:30 am to 5 pm. This daylong symposium will feature scholars from the Mennonite and Catholic traditions engaging in discussion of the historical context and contemporary liturgical practices around intercessory prayer. Formal presentations will lay the groundwork for informed engagement among participants, with the goal of advancing ecumenical dialogue through rigorous theological exploration. Invited Speakers: Marlene Kropf, Emerita, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminar; John Cavadini, University of Notre Dame; Kim Belcher, University of Notre Dame; Karl Koop, Canadian Mennonite University. There is no charge for participation. Refreshments will be provided, and participants will take meals on their own. The event is sponsored by: The Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame and the Mennonite Catholic Theological Symposium of Bridgefolk. For more information contact Margie Pfeil at

Call for Proposals: "Mennonites, Service, and the Humanitarian Impulse: MCC at 100," October 23-24, 2020. In 1920 Mennonites from different ethnic and church backgrounds formed Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to collaboratively respond to the famine ravaging Mennonite communities in the Soviet Union (Ukraine). Over the ensuing century, MCC has grown to embrace disaster relief, development, and peacebuilding in over 60 countries around the world. MCC has been one of the most influential Mennonite organizations of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It has operated as a mechanism for cooperation among a wide variety of Mennonite groups, including Brethren in Christ and Amish, constructing a broad inter-Mennonite, Anabaptist identity. Yet it has also brought Mennonites into global ecumenical and interfaith partnerships. This centennial conference invites proposals for papers that examine the past, present, and future of MCC. More broadly it invites papers on the Mennonites' response to the biblical call to love one's neighbor through practical acts of service. Proposals from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives are welcomed, including but not limited to anthropology, conflict transformation and peacebuilding, cultural studies, development studies, economics, history, political science, sociology, and theology. The conference will be hosted by the Chair of Mennonite Studies, University of Winnipeg, in collaboration with Canadian Mennonite University. Send proposals or questions by December 1, 2019 to Royden Loewen, Chair in Mennonite Studies, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 2E9, Canada. Email: Limited research grants are available to help defray costs related to research in MCC's archives in Akron, Pennsylvania or at other MCC sites. Queries, with a brief two paragraph description of the proposed research, should be sent to Alain Epp Weaver ( Requests for research grants will be assessed on an ongoing, rolling basis.

Research Grant: The Mennonite Historical Society announces an "Open Research Grant" of $2,000 to promote research and publication in Anabaptist-Mennonite studies. To apply, send the following materials by March 1, 2017, to Leonard Gross, Secretary, Mennonite Historical Society, Goshen College, Goshen, IN 46526: a two- or three-page summary of the project stating its significance to the field of Anabaptist-Mennonite history, a budget of anticipated expenses, a vitae, and one letter of recommendation. All applicants must be members of the Mennonite Historical Society. Recipients of the award will be announced at the May meeting of the M.H.S. Board of Directors. Disbursements will be made by June 1. The Prize Selection Committee may choose not to award the grant if none of the applications is deemed acceptable. The Mennonite Quarterly Review has the "right of first refusal" for scholarly articles that result from research funded by the grant.

Research Grant: The Schafer-Friesen Research Fellowship is awarded annually by the Mennonite Historical Library (MHL) at Goshen College to support scholarship in Reformation and Anabaptist History. First priority for the award is to individuals doing advanced research using the resources of the Mennonite Historical Library. The award will support travel costs to the Mennonite Historical Library, and up to three weeks of room and board. The Fellowship may also be used, secondarily, to support publications on Reformation and Anabaptist topics. To apply, please send a letter of interest, along with a one-page research plan and budget, by March 1, 2017, to John D. Roth at


(*) Steven M. Nolt is a professor of history at Goshen (Ind.) College; Theron Schlabach is a professor of history emeritus at Goshen College.

(1.) Harold S. Bender, "In the Midst of War--Thoughts for Nonresistants. Mennonite Men in the Army?" Gospel Herald, Feb. 11,1943, 986.

(2.) Keith L. Sprunger and John D. Thiesen, "Mennonite Military Service in World War II: An Oral History Approach," MQR 66 (Oct. 1992), 481-491; Perry Bush, "Military Service, Religious Faith, and Acculturation: Mennonite G.I.s and Their Church, 1941-1945," MQR 67 (July 1993), 261-282.

(3.) For background on the negotiation and creation of Civilian Public Service, see Theron F. Schlabach, War, Peace, and Social Conscience: Guy F. Hershberger and Mennonite Ethics (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2009), 87-116.

(4.) At one point, for example, John E. Lapp, a leading bishop in the Franconia Conference of the Mennonite Church, corrected data for his conference; see Guy F. Hershberger, The Mennonite Church in the Second World War (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1951), 48, n.3.

(5.) See forms in Hist. Mss. 1-3-5, box 15, folder 3.

(6.) "Census of Drafted Men" distributed to collect information on "all men drafted up to Dec. 1,1944," Hist. Mss. 1-3-5, box 15, folder 3.

(7.) Howard H. Charles, "A Presentation and Evaluation of the M.C.C. Draft Status Census," 83-105, in Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Conference on Mennonite Cultural Problems (North Newton, Kan.: Mennonite Press, 1945). This particular Conference on Mennonite Cultural Problems had been held at Bluffton College.

(8.) The Power of Love: A Study Manual Adapted for Sunday School Use and for Group Discussion (Newton, Kan.: General Conference Mennonite Church, 1947), 85-87; Melvin Gingrich, Service for Peace: A History of Mennonite Civilian Public Service (Akron, Pa.: Mennonite Central Committee, 1949), 87-93.

(9.) Theron F. Schlabach conversation with Ivan J. Kauffmann, Oct. 6, 2015. After three years of farm work, Kauffmann expressed interest in enrolling at Goshen College, a move that would have ended his draft deferment. Harold Bender enrolled Kauffmann as a ministerial student so he could convert his agriculture deferment into a IV-D divinity student deferment.

(10.) lohn E. Lapp, "The Other Six Days," Mennonite Community, July 1947, 6.

(11.) Hershberger, The Mennonite Church in the Second World War, 36.

(12.) Harry Loewen and Steven M. Nolt, Through Fire and Water: An Overview of Mennonite History, Revised Edition (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2010), 316, n.6. The explanation in this note is inadequate, but was an attempt to point to the issues and ambiguities in the draft census data mentioned on p. 174 of the book.

(13.) One study suggesting the strength of nonresistant conviction in rural Mennonite churches is David Peterson, "Ready for War: Oregon Mennonites from Versailles to Pearl Harbor," MQR 64 (July 1990), 209-229.

(14.) Harold S. Bender to Melvin Gingerich, Sept. 17,1945, Harold S. Bender corresp., Hss Mss 1-278, box 12, folder 12, Mennonite Church USA Archives-Goshen.

(15.) Example postcard: "Dear Bro. Hartzler," May 3, 1945, filed in Church Status of Mennonites in Military Service, Project 19a, IV-7-20, Mennonite Research Foundation, box 7, folder 44, Mennonite Church USA Archives-Goshen. We should note, however, that even if pastors returned such postcards, the data they were asked to provide was merely a total number of deferred men, not detailed data about those deferral terms or other information akin to the data they provided for men in C.P.S. or in the military.

(16.) Church Status of Mennonites in Military Service, Project 19a, IV-7-20, Mennonite Research Foundation, box 7, folder 44, Mennonite Church USA Archives-Goshen.

(17.) H. S. Bender to S. H. N. Gorter, Dec. 24, 1947, Harold Bender corresp., Hist. Mss. 1-278, box 12, folder 11, Mennonite Church USA Archives-Goshen. On Gorter, see "Gorter, S. H. N.," Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online;,_Simon_Henri_Nicolaas_(1885-1967)&oldid=107813.

(18.) Bender to S. H. N. Gorter, Dec. 24,1947.

(19.) Harold S. Bender, "De Feiten Aangaande het Werloosheidsstandpunt van de Amerikaanse Doopsgezinder," Algemeen Doopsgezind Weekblad, March 6, 1948, 2-3. Jan Gleysteen, Goshen, Ind., has read the Weekblad essay and confirms that it is a complete and correct translation of Bender's original essay.

(20.) Bender to Gorter, Dec. 24, 1947.

(21.) For example, the sort of thoughtful qualification usually reserved for a footnote (such as, Paul Toews, Mennonites in American Society, 1930-1970: Modernity and the Persistence of Religious Community [Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1996], 368, n.78) might be presented more prominently.

(22.) Al Albrecht, "Farm Deferments during World War II," Mennonite Historical Bulletin, Oct. 2006, 4-8. Albrecht had placed notices in The Mennonite, Mennonite Weekly Review, and Elkhart County (Ind.) newspapers asking men who had received farm deferments to contact him with their stories; fifty-one men did so. The materials Albrecht collected are housed at the Mennonite Church USA Archives-Goshen, under Albrecht's name, but are currently unprocessed.

(23.) Charles, "A Presentation and Evaluation," 87.

(24.) Sam Hershberger, brother of historian and social ethicist Guy F. Hershberger, provides one such example. The financial responsibility for his household weighed heavily on him as he considered what he might do if drafted. His brother, Guy, suggested that he look into obtaining an agriculture deferment. In the end, Sam received a deferment because he was employed by the post office. See pp. 100-101, in Schlabach, War, Peace, and Social Conscience, citing "Sam H" to "Dear Guy," Mar. 30, 1944, f. marked "Relatives," in a box of personal and family papers held by Guy and Clara's son, Paul Hershberger.

(25.) John F. Glick, "Gap, Pa.," The Budget, Aug. 7, 1941, 4.

(26.) Published statistics on Canadian Mennonite conscription during World War II seem to include those assigned to work in agriculture. See T. D. Regehr, Mennonites in Canada, 1939-1970: A People Transformed (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 53.
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Title Annotation:RESEARCH NOTE
Author:Nolt, Steven M.; Schlabach, Theron F.
Publication:Mennonite Quarterly Review
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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