SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Mennonite Mission Network) – In two weeks’ time, Mennonite
Voluntary Service will be officially recognized by the United States Selective Service System as a member of the Alternative Service Employer Network (ASEN) for conscientious objectors. *
At 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, 2010, at San Antonio (Texas) Mennonite Church, MVS will sign an agreement with the United States Selective Service System to become a member of the ASEN. This event marks the first ASEN signing in 25 years. The signing means that if a military draft is ever reinstated, MVS is an officially recognized agency capable of hosting alternative service workers or conscientious objectors.
At the San Antonio ceremony, the agreement will be signed by Lawrence Romo, Selective Service director; Stanley Green, Mennonite Mission Network executive director; and Hugo Saucedo, director of Mennonite Voluntary Service. The signing is the culmination of years of talks and negotiations between MVS and the Selective Service.
Romo said arranging civilian alternative service for conscientious objectors is the Selective Service’s second mission.
“Few people are aware of that second mission, but we take it seriously and devote time and resources to ensuring a just and productive alternative for men sincerely opposed to war,” Romo said.
MVS is a program of Mennonite Mission Network, the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA. Since 1946, the MVS program has offered opportunities for adults of all ages to serve their country through community service alongside churches and neighborhoods across the United States. Currently, 93 MVS participants serve in 22 different U.S. cities.
MVS also has a history of coordinating alternative service opportunities for Mennonite conscientious objectors. As a program of Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Church USA, MVS is rooted in the Anabaptist faith tradition which emphasizes peace, social justice and service as important components of the Christian faith journey. Mennonites and Anabaptists have a long history of conscientious objection to war.
“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.”
Participants in the MVS program serve one- to two-year terms and live in community with other volunteers. For more information about MVS and Mennonite Mission Network, visit Service.MennoniteMission.net.
Mennonite Church USA is comprised of more than 109,000 members in 44 states. A total of 21 area conferences serve as regional offices or districts for our 939 congregations. Together all parts of Mennonite Church USA strive to bring Christ’s healing and hope to others by identifying and joining God’s work in the world.
As the mission organization of Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite Mission Network hosted more than 140 people through service programs like MVS, and more than 120 international workers in 40 countries last year. MMN relates to workers and international partners in more than 50 countries. Each year, MMN facilitates short-term and longer-term experiences for more than 3,300 Christian service participants in more than 100 locations around the United States. For more information, visit www.MennoniteMission.net.
San Antonio Mennonite Church is located at 1443 South Saint Mary’s Street in San Antonio. For more information, contact Hannah Heinzekehr at Mennonite Mission Network at 1-866-866-2872, extension 23025.
*Correction: Due to a source error, an earlier version of this story claimed MVS was the first faith-based program to be an official alternative service option through Selective Service. In fact, previous alternative service programs, including Civilian Public Service during World War II, had various arrangements with Selective Service. Before the agreement between MVS and Selective Service, no conscientious objector agreements had been signed for more than 25 years.