Mennonite Voluntary Service to become first faith-based organization recognized by the United States Selective Service System
On Tuesday, the Mennonite Voluntary Service will become the first faith-based service organization recognized by the United States Selective Service System as a member of the Alternative Service Employer Network for conscientious objectors.
Co- signees of the agreement are Lawrence Romo, Selective Service director; Stanley Green, Mennonite Mission Network executive director; and Hugo Saucedo, director of MVS.
“The point behind this action is for these organizations to be prepared to provide alternative service for those who are conscientious objectors,” said J. E. McNeil, Executive Director of the Center on Conscience & War.
The signing culminates years of talks and negotiations between MVS and the Selective Service.
“This event gives us a formal avenue as a denomination to have expanded job assignments for our young people to perform this conscientious objector obligation,” said Saucedo.
“It’s particularly important for young African-American and Latino American Mennonites who broader society doesn’t always recognize as Mennonite. We know that minorities are disproportionately represented in the armed forces, and this agreement gives them an extra level of assurance that they will be treated equally in the event of a draft.”
The MVS will be open to Mennonites aged 20 and above, and length of service is 1-2 years. They volunteer in the areas of immigration, health care and the environment in cities and towns across the U.S., according to the Mennonite Web site.
The Mennonite Voluntary Service is rooted in the Anabaptist faith tradition which emphasizes peace, justice and service as important components of the Christian faith journey.
Since 1946, the MVS has allowed adults to serve their country through community service alongside churches and neighborhoods. Currently, 93 participants serve in 22 different U.S. cities.
The Mennonites endorse nonviolence in all situations, and have a long history of conscientious objection to war.
The Mennonite church in the USA has more than 109,000 members. They have 939 congregations and 21 conferences operating in 44 states.