The PAX program received the Community Service Award from the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence at James Madison University on 26 April, 2015.   The Community Service Award is bestowed upon individuals or organizations whose work exemplifies the spirit of nonviolence as demonstrated through commitment to civic engagement and service. The 2015 recipient is the PAX program for their pioneering global initiative for voluntary and alternative service. The Pax program operated between 1951 and 1976. It was first imagined by Calvin Redekop and Paul Peachy, who both retired in Harrisonburg, and who worked for Mennonite Central Committee at the time, to help rebuild post-war Europe and serve as a voluntary service option to the military draft. 

Nearly 1,200 men and women, including over 40 from the Shenandoah Valley, went to 42 different countries around the world and were involved in numerous agricultural development and construction projects. PAX began in Germany where “PAXmen” helped build refugee homes, but in a short period expanded its scope of activities to other parts of Europe such as Austria, France, and Greece, and to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

General Lewis Hershey, director of US Selective Service visited the PAX site in Germany in August, 1951 to evaluate the PAX program and approved it as alternative service to the military draft.  PAX effort also was a pre-cursor and part of the inspiration for Senator Hubert Humphrey, Sargent Shriver and United States President John F. Kennedy to launch the long-running Peace Corps program.  PAX also served as a model of alternative service for other countries, such as Germany and Italy among others.

The program's ethic was non-bureaucratic and the basic philosophy was "serving to get the job done." The MCC executive committee did a focused review in 1957 and concluded that, "the PAX program has been making a unique and valuable contribution in the relief and mission outreach. Our churches and young men continue to have a strong interest in this service and new opportunities for service should be sought.” The PAX program had a deep impact on the lives of many young men, and almost all agreed that their years of service were, according to later research "the most important life changing years of [their] lives." 

The video Pax Service: An Alternative to War is an hour-long documentary produced by Mennonite Media and premiered on Hallmark Channel in Nov. 2008   Two books have been written about Pax.   In 1969 Uri Bender published Soldiers of Compassion, which provides a close look at specific projects and lists the men who served in them.  In 2001 Calvin Redekop published The Pax Story with a hopeful question about the possibility and relevance of a new International Mennonite Pax Corps—that is, to harness voluntary service as “a perfect way to combine the promotion of peace and [the] practice of service.”

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