Christian Public Service History
Christian Public Service is an agency of the Church of God in Christ Mennonite. This agency provides opportunities for the conscientious objector to serve their fellow men in lieu of military service.
“During the time of World War 1 (1914-1918) the conscription law had recognized religious conscientious objection to war, but left to the President and the War Department the decision of what to do with the conscientious objectors.
“The models for Alternative Service in the Historic Peace Churches (HPCs) were found in the experiences from World War I of the Quakers; from the work-camp ideas of the Swiss Quaker Pierre Ceresole during the 1920's; and from the late 19th, early 20th century experience of the Mennonites in Russia.
“By the mid-1930's a loose consensus among COs emerged around the idea of a form of alternative humanitarian service in lieu of military service. Alternative service, they believed, was more desirable than a practical demonstration of how to behave in wartime. Dan West, Brethren peace enthusiast and organizer argued for a 'relief machine that would engage in nonpartisan relief in wartime. We can earn the right to ask for exemption from military duty if we get busy. Our record will be a better argument than our intention, however sincere, without that record.'”
During and immediately after World War 1 the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was able to place several hundred relief workers in France. The workers rebuilt war-devastated housing, restored farmland for crop use and provided medical service to war-sufferers. During World War II and the years following (1942-1954) the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite worked under the committee known as the inner MCC committee. This committee functioned under the MCC committee. In the annual meeting at Michigan April 25, 1954, it was felt that it would be better to administrate a program of their own. The name was changed to Christian Public Service committee, by which it was known until they incorporated in April of 1991, then becoming Christian Public Service, Inc.
As soon as the General Conference of November 1950 resolved to sponsor its own voluntary service program, arrangements were made for such. As the drafting of soldiers to the army went on, the home tension toward the COs grew so much that soon something had to be done to move some of our brethren somewhere.
After investigating several different projects, hospital service work was considered as the most appropriate. Soon an opening took place at the Roseburg Veteran's Hospital at Roseburg, Oregon. Brother Arverd Wiggers, of Galva, Kansas volunteered to assist in hospital work and was chosen as a leader for this service. During this time Brother Laurence F. Becker was busy working with the various governmental officials, dealing with classification problems, and counselings young men where and how to report for work under the Selective Service regulations.
Later the forestry service work in Oregon and California was also looked into by the committee and Brother J. G. Loewen of Creswell, Oregon, but because of a lack of volunteers that work was shelved for the time being.
With a great need in our mission stations for an agricultural and livestock development program, several young men were sent to Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico, Camp 45, and one to Tucumcari, New Mexico for voluntary service.
At the same time, while the committee was investigating voluntary service work, or service for Christ, a great need was seen because of the prospect that our brethren would be leaving home for 1-W service for the first time. Now they would have to witness, testify, and give an account of the hope, or belief, within them, and also need to know fully what the meaning is of serving in Christ's stead. Thus the preparatory class project began in 1951.
While the whole voluntary service program sponsored by the MCC and individual Mennonite groups may have been too little and too late, yet there is every indication that it helped to open the way for a liberal alternative service law drafted by the government which finally became effective in the summer of 1952.
Currently CPS has 9 boys units and 5 girls units.